Let’s take a look today at some issues the Orioles and their brass will have to deal with - some sooner, some later. We’ll even rank them from least important to most.
No. 5 - How to continue to satisfy fans during the rebuild?: Yeah, good luck with that strategy because there is no miracle marketing plan or idea that solves this one.
I’ve said numerous times that I am impressed how many fans understand what the Orioles are going through and are showing patience. The percentage I hear or read that from is larger than I ever thought we’d see. Venting is at a minimum for a team with 223 losses over two seasons. Winning excites fans and better fills the park. That is the best marketing strategy. As we know, for the Orioles, when that happens and even if it will are matters no one has a date on.
No. 4 - Adding coaches for the majors and minors: The coaches can only do so much, but the major league staff supports manager Brandon Hyde and the minor league staff tries to help produce future major leaguers. In that sense, the minor league coaches are pretty important. Fans are counting on them to help build the “elite talent pipeline” general manager Mike Elias envisions.
No. 3 - How do you improve the pitching?: I rank this one this low because the Orioles seem likely to pursue players on one-year deals and minor league contracts. They won’t be playing in the deep end of the pool until the rebuild yields more wins. Their bullpen could be better next year as talented young arms like Hunter Harvey and Dillon Tate get more time on the roster. One aspect of the starting rotation is waiting to see if the Double-A Bowie pitchers from this year’s team and guys like Keegan Akin can help. Will any impact the roster in 2020? It seems likely. In and around that, the Orioles will add some pitchers, but no true difference makers are expected.
No. 2 - How to handle the current arbitration-eligible players: The Orioles have seven players eligible. I can foresee six getting tendered, with Jonathan Villar being the toughest decision. He is slated to get $10.4 million per an MLBTradeRumors.com projection. They also project $5.7 million for both Trey Mancini and Dylan Bundy, $3.2 million for Mychal Givens, $1.9 million for Hanser Alberto, $1.2 million for Miguel Castro and $1.1 million for Richard Bleier. Maybe there is a surprise non-tender in there somewhere.
No. 1: The Chris Davis contract: The Davis deal continues to hang over the organization. There was no doubt Davis was not good in 2019 and hasn’t been for a while. But it sure appeared he was also well received by the big league staff and players. Both can be true.
If the Orioles are destined to lose a lot of games again next year, he’s not really blocking anyone on a contender. Yet. But if he can’t begin to produce more - and that seems a real longshot - the Orioles would be likely be better served for their future to just cut ties. That’s big money to have to eat but the meal is going to be served anyway. Will this day be coming in 2020? Not at the start based on Elias’ previous comments. We’ll see what happens after that.
How do you see some of these issues resolving themselves? What other issues not mention will be important for the club?