Well, it could be worse for the Orioles. At least they didn’t have one teammate attack another in the dugout and choke him. Pitcher Jonathan Papelbon has not exactly been the addition the Washington Nationals had hoped for. After throwing at the head of one of the game’s best young stars on Wednesday, he physically went after another yesterday in Bryce Harper.
If Papelbon was irritated that Harper didn’t run out a fly ball, it must be a new development. I never saw him go after David Ortiz who routinely dogged it on flyouts and ground balls when they played together with Boston. Four days after Papelbon threw two pitches near the head of Manny Machado and got suspended, he went after Harper in full view of the cameras.
Papelbon has pretty much been a disaster for the Nationals. They must wish now they could have a do-over on that late July trade. They’ve already picked up his option for next year.
Meanwhile, back to problems closer to the team we cover here. I can seldom remember seeing the Orioles look so good in one series, as they did against Washington, and so bad in the very next one. They were shut out in three straight games by Boston, batting .129 with 12 hits in that series at Fenway Park. Even the faintest playoff hopes are pretty much dashed now.
They seemed to play with passion and fire in Washington, and seemed to have none of that in Boston. The Orioles have been a low-key team over the last few years and maybe they were just out of character at Nats Park. Yet the passion and fire seemed to help them and spur them to hit those late-inning homers to pull out the last two games.
At this point, barring a real baseball miracle, the Orioles are playing out the string. I still think posting a winning record for the fourth straight season would have some meaning. They have to go 6-1 to do that. Now even a winning season may be out of the question.
Speaking of questions, the offseason questions are coming soon for the Orioles. Who can they re-sign, how much will they spend and how will they look to rebuild their roster for the 2016 season?
Now that list may be down to two in Davis and Chen. I would think the Orioles are unlikely to make Wieters a qualifying offer and may be preparing to move on without him in 2016. They could have a platoon of Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger for a small fraction of $15-$16 million qualifying offer.
Can Wieters still get a lucrative multi-year contract as a free agent after a year with a .686 OPS and one where he may not be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery?
If the O’s let Wieters go, they run the risk that he used this year to get back to health and that he cold have a big season in 2016 when fully healthy. There also is the possibility Wieters could sign a one-year deal with a team, try to show the industry he is back to full health, have a solid season and cash in after the 2016 season.
But signing Wieters to a long-term deal, or even making him a qualifying offer, has now become more risky than it seemed several months ago. Does Wieters have a future in Baltimore?