After the Orioles avoided a sweep and beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 on Sunday, I’m wondering about a few topics and want to hear about them from Birdland today.
Why all the trade talk about Trey Mancini?: Fans are not in a hurry to move this guy out of here, are they? On my postgame radio show, one of the most frequently asked questions is “Will the Orioles trade Mancini, and if so, what could they get for him?” Are fans just excited by trade talks?
Mancini, believe it or not, is not even arbitration-eligible until after this season. He can’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season. Now, I get that a player under team control brings more back via a trade than does a free agent. Some fans also seem to feel that anyone should be tradeable on a team that might not contend for several seasons.
But Mancini is batting .318/.366/.547 with 13 doubles, seven homers and 16 RBIs. He leads the team in batting average, hits, doubles and runs. He’s become a leader in the clubhouse and he is always making some impact in the community. He seems like the kind of player to build around and not trade. But in the O’s situation, yes, they should have no untouchables and must be willing to listen to all offers. That is just doing due diligence.
But Mancini is impressive in so many ways. In Minnesota, he got hit in the finger with a pitch and stayed in the game until he could bloop a single into center field one-handed. The other night he drove in the first run against Chris Sale and came within inches of winning the game on a walk-off homer. That might have been the Orioles’ biggest win of the year had they pulled it off.
Keep Mancini and maybe even begin long-term contract talks. That seems like a solid play for the Orioles right now.
Can John Means keep this up?: He’s been pretty special so far. Means held the Angels to four hits and one run over six innings Sunday and is 5-3 with a 2.33 ERA. He is four outs shy of qualifying for the list of American League statistical leaders through 40 games. His ERA would rank third-best in the AL right now.
Hoping that will continue is a big ask, but maybe he’s got some staying power, as he has become a three- and four-pitch pitcher in recent games and not just a fastball-changeup guy. Yesterday Means threw more sliders (26) than changeups (22). He beat an Angels team that had scored 15 runs in the first two games of the series.
He has faced Boston twice, allowing two runs over 12 innings and the Red Sox have hit just .175 against him. They got a second look at him and still couldn’t do much versus Means. This season the trio of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Mookie Betts is 1-for-12 against him. Although Mike Trout did get him for a homer yesterday.
We’re hearing a lot less about Chris Davis lately: When Davis was in the midst of that hitless stretch, it seemed every call on sports-talk radio and many of our comments here were about Davis. There was no other O’s topic, it seemed. But we are hearing much less now that his bat has become productive again.
Is that because there is less to gripe about now?
Since he ended that hitless stretch on April 13, Davis has played in 21 games. He is batting .290 (18-for-62) with three doubles, five homers and 15 RBIs. He is nowhere near the player that tore it up in 2013 and 2015 but he’s also hitting much, much better than the player we saw in 2018.
Criticism of Davis previously was, of course, justified, but it just went on and on and on. Have to come up for air sometime, right? During that home series against Oakland from April 8-11, the Camden Yards crowds started cheering Davis. Two days later, he broke the hitless run, and he’s been pretty solid ever since. His defense continues to be solid.
He’s much less of a topic now, it seems, that his bat is productive again.
Speaking of topics, the Orioles are now 25 percent into this season and are 14-26. That projects to a final record of 57 and 105 with their current .350 winning percentage. That would be 10 more wins than the 2018 club had. Will the O’s do that or better in 2019?