Hall of Famer Jim Palmer is known for his honest evaluation of the Orioles, so it was only a matter of time before the MASN color commentator got around to calling out Chris Davis for his inability to make the adjustments necessary to rediscover his old form.
The truth hurts sometimes, and it hurts even more when you’re mired in an interminable slump and your team is already well out of contention in late May.
The real question is whether it was constructive for Palmer to get into Davis’ head at a time when it’s already fully stocked with confusion, frustration and bruised confidence. Everyone has to know that Davis wants badly to morph back into the “Crush” persona that won two home run titles. Nobody who does what it takes to be a star-quality major league player is ever satisfied with failure.
Still, Palmer is echoing a lot of frustrated fans who, along with a lot of the media, pushed the Orioles to sign Davis to a giant contract over two years ago and now see him as the most dysfunctional component of a very broken team.
That seven-year, $161 million contract came with a ton of pressure, and Davis has failed to deal with it. Where he once was a threat to go deep to any field in any ballpark, he now is a shell of the guy who hit 53 home runs in 2013 and 47 two seasons later.
Maybe Palmer’s postgame diatribe Wednesday night will light a fire under Davis, who bristled at the suggestion that he might not have worked as much with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh during the offseason as he previously claimed.
Davis certainly hasn’t figured out why he is so vulnerable to called strikes that end up in the hot zone, and it doesn’t look like he has significantly changed his approach at the plate. There’s that saying about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, and it seems to apply here.
However, for those fans clamoring for the Orioles to acknowledge that Davis’s big contract was a mistake of historic proportions and cut him loose: That’s not going to happen, and it shouldn’t. This season is all but lost, so the O’s can afford to hunker down with Davis and try to get him straightened out in time to help them when they are Manny-less next year.
The outsized talent is still in there, and the Orioles don’t want to be paying Davis $23 million per year to rediscover it somewhere else.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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