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Orioles Lose Again. Let’s Talk Rookies.

rookies are youngThe word on the last six weeks of the season remains what it has been: focus not on wins and losses, revel in development.

Tonight’s game encapsulates that perfectly.

Chris Tillman took his first major league loss, but in doing so turned in a a decent road start. He went six innings giving up seven hits and three runs (all on solo homers). He walked two and struck out three while throwing 64 strikes in 101 pitches. If the offense steps up, he probably gets the win he deserved.

Matt Wieters had a great moment where he came up throwing on a pitch that might have been ball four. The ump called strike three, and Wieters caught the runner for the double play. It was a solid move, worthy of a veteran and a glimpse of things to come.

Nolan Reimold batted second and only went 1-4, but I can see him in that role going forward. Ideally with Jones hitting third, a big bat fourth, and Markakis fifth. Or something close to that. The seeds of a potent lineup are slowly taking root.

All of which goes to say: these guys are figuring things out.

I’ve heard and read some critiques lately that run along this line: the young talent we’ve all been talking about is here, so why aren’t they performing better?

I get that, and I get the frustration that spawns it. But let’s be real. The starting rotation features four rookies, and the best starter on the team (this year) is another rookie who’s currently on the DL. The left fielder is a rookie. The star center fielder is in his second full year.

These things take time.

It’s not that losing is OK, because it isn’t. It’s not that changes won’t be necessary in the offseason, because they will. And it’s hard to maintain enthusiasm, especially when the overall record stands now at 48-72 (alarmingly bad). But damn it, I’m telling you — casual readers, regular commenters, random passersby — that there is something brewing here, and it’s good. These kids are working out the kinks, and whether you realize it or not you’re glad they’re doing it sooner than later.

10 comments to Orioles Lose Again. Let’s Talk Rookies.

  • What really concerns me is Tillman’s Hungry Hungry Gopher.

    He won’t succeed at this level if he’s going to be Bruce Chen, Part II: They Still Call Me Bruce.

  • Look, the losing sucks and it’s discouraging, but it’s almost gotten to the point where it’s so bad this year that it hurts less. In the past, the Orioles would tantalize us with three to four months of competitive baseball and then just get murdered in pathetic fashion for the remainder of the year. This is different. They weren’t in contention at any point this season, and dropped from below-average to just plain poor (W-L wise). But the way they’re losing is just not the same. These are close, skin-of-the-teeth games that are turning on a bad hop here, a GIDP there. They’re a competitive losing team if that makes sense. We’re not collapsing under the weight of injuries and a lack of depth and running out joke lineups with Brandon Fahey at SS and Tike Redman in CF and Victor Zambrano on the mound. Like you said Neal, we’re losing while our young guns get the valuable on-job training they need.

    BTW, I’m foolish enough to follow WNST on Twitter, and last night, Nestor said: ” Aren’t you a little worried that all of #Orioles best prospects are surrounded by a dark cloud of losing? Where’s the leader?”

    Yeah, kind of like how the young Tigers lost 119 games in 2003 and were so devastated that it took them three whole years after that to make it to the World Series. You’ll forgive me if I don’t believe that a couple months of losing baseball against the very best teams in MLB will break the fragile spirits of kids with the kind of mental and physical makeup that Matusz, Wieters, et. al. supposedly have.

    Whew. I hope some of that actually made sense.

  • Andrew

    I’m worried because I – and those of you who know me know that I’m as die-hard as they come and frequently get called an apologist, which I think is wrong, but that’s neither here nor there – I don’t want to watch this train-wreck. I really don’t. At the beginning of the season it’s always fun to get caught up in the baseball and really feel a palpable need to see every pitch…but now it’s just…

    Ugh. I really can’t bring myself to watch more than a few innings in the background.

    So I’m worried. Because who is watching?

  • Andrew

    h/t to mlbtraderumors.com

    The Orioles have picked up a 26 year old right hander from the Tigers’ AAA team with respectable numbers in Chris Lambert. It’s a depth move, and not particularly sexy, but not a bad acquisition at all.

    I’m pondering what direction the Warehouse takes this winter today. What do you all think?

  • Greg

    I haven’t watched or listened to any baseball in at least two weeks, and maybe 2 games in the past month. It’s hard when the team is suddenly only capable of winning on Tuesdays and Fridays.

  • Andrew

    An update on pitching limitations (going on the 25-inning Verducci Rule):

    Chris Tillman has 34 innings left
    Brian Matusz has roughly 25 innings left
    Jason Berken has 56.2 innings left
    Brad Bergesen has 56 innings left
    David Hernandez has 40.1 innings left
    Jake Arrieta has 3.1 (!!!) innings left

    I can’t stress enough how angry I would be if any of these guys go past their limits as I have stated them. Obviously in a few cases the Orioles will be in the tough position of needing to shut them down before the season ends, and I don’t know who replaces them. I suspect that Bergesen and Berken are fine to finish the season, and that all of the Big Three would probably be best served by being shut down soon (especially, apparently, Arrieta) and Hernandez might be okay, too.

  • neal s

    @Andrew – That’s a great question. I think I’ll incorporate it into a main page post later tonight, if you don’t mind.

    As far as watch/don’t watch, I can’t criticize anybody who’s tuning out. These are dark times and I’m watching less than I was, as well. But nobody can make a claim that there aren’t good things happening. Well, let me rephrase: nobody who wants to maintain a hint of credibility can claim that there aren’t good things happening.

  • neal s

    @Andrew – The six-man rotation should go a long way towards helping out, wouldn’t you say?

    If you’re right about Matusz and Tillman needing to sit, though (and I suspect you are), we could be looking at guys like David Pauley and Andy Mitchell in September. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing Mitchell, but I can’t imagine tuning in for a Pauley start. No thanks.

  • the true colors of the organization will be known this offseason … if they go out and sign some good players to come in and make the team competitive, then they are committed to winning. if not, they are the pirates of the AL basically

  • Andrew

    @the Wayward O – I completely agree. Not that my fandom is in any specific jeopardy, but what they do in the offseason will be somewhat critical for me. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I just don’t know if I can take one more press conference with the words “short term pain” in it.