First off, I'm a big Corey Patterson fan. I think he is a great guy, and while his free-swinging ways are maddening at times, I think he'd be a good addition to the Orioles' bench because of his defensive abilities and what he brings with his speed/bunting ability, etc. But all the talk about Patterson coming up and being a huge part of an offensive turnaround is a little much. Patterson has been in six different organizations since 2005, and this is his second go-around with the Orioles. He is a career .252 hitter with a career .290 on-base percentage. No disrespect to Patterson, but neither he nor anybody else the Orioles could summon from the minors is going to save the offense. That will only happen when Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold and Luke Scott remember what they were doing in the first half last year to be successful and Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis mix in a few homers with all those singles and a handful of doubles. Offensive contributions by Garrett Atkins, Cesar Izturis and Julio Lugo would go a long way as well.I think those being dismissive of Andy MacPhail's threat that if some of the position players don't start hitting they're heading to Triple-A Norfolk are missing the point by focusing on whom the Orioles would call up to replace some of the underperformers. Regardless of how badly guys like Reimold and Jones are struggling, they remain a key part of the organization's future. If MacPhail was to demote one of them, he'd do it either because that player needed a wake-up call or he felt that the player needed to go down to the minors to aid his long-term development. It also sends a message to the rest of the big league club, similar to the ones received by Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen. Now, I know I'm going to be reminded that this year is supposed to be about wins and losses and not development. But the Orioles are already 9-23. If MacPhail feels that two weeks in Norfolk would help Reimold both later this season and in the future, he'll replace him with Patterson or Jeff Salazar and deal with the results.
Speaking of Reimold, I don't know whether he still lacks confidence as a result of the Achilles surgery or his bad start has totally wrecked his psyche, but he doesn't look like himself at all. Reimold went through some ups and downs during his rookie season, but he almost always put forth a solid at-bat and did the right things in the field. That hasn't always been the case this year, and Sunday was another example. Playing left field, Reimold picked up Denard Span's single in the fourth inning and double-clutched, ruining any chance of getting Alexi Casilla at home. He then overthrew cutoff man Miguel Tejada, allowing Span to get to second base. Span later scored. It was not a good sequence for Reimold, who doesn't outwardly show much frustration, but it's clear that he's searching for answers right now.
Today's a day off for the Orioles, meaning there will be plenty of speculation that this is the day manager Dave Trembley will be fired. I have nothing much to add to this, other than the fact that I was told yesterday -- and continue to be told -- that the club has no imminent plans to make a managerial change. Now, I guess anything can happen overnight -- there are certainly enough decision-makers who are ticked with how the team is playing -- but I'm not counting on it. If a 2-16 start didn't force a change, then a 7-9 stretch against the Yankees, Red Sox and Twins, which I reckon most people would have settled for before the season began, probably won't do it either. I will say a winning homestand is probably critical. The Orioles play the Mariners, Indians, Royals -- three teams with a combined 34-58 record.
I understand why some people are up in arms about Jim Johnson pitching through an elbow injury. And I know I'm going to get skewered in writing this, but I really have a hard time crushing a guy who pitched through pain because he didn't want to abandon a struggling team and a decimated bullpen, and he had the confidence in himself that he was healthy enough to be part of the solution. Johnson had an epiphany when he reported to Norfolk, realizing that any chance he had of returning to the big leagues and helping the Orioles was contingent on getting his elbow fixed or rested. There was a reason he wasn't throwing his sinker as much, after all. He was getting treatment on his elbow since Day Two of the season, the one game Johnson told Trembley that he couldn't pitch. So it's not like the club was totally in the dark. However, day after day, Johnson said he felt well enough to take the ball later that night. He admits now that he erred in judgment and learned a valuable lesson.
The Orioles' offense, featuring only four regulars with an average over .250 and not a single .300 hitter, has no excuses for how poorly it has performed. It is quite remarkable, however, the quality of pitchers the Orioles have faced so far this season: Matt Garza, John Lackey, Jeff Niemann, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett twice each; Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester, James Shields, Shawn Marcum, David Price, Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, Francisco Liriano, Josh Beckett, Andy Pettitte, Brett Anderson, Phil Hughes, and "Mr. Perfect Game" Dallas Braden all once. It's a pretty impressive list, but the Orioles have also been shut out this season by Dana Eveland and Nick Blackburn, and held to two runs or fewer by Jason Vargas, Doug Fister and Carl Pavano. So I'm not sure it really matters a whole lot. They'll get Cliff Lee on Tuesday and King Felix again Thursday. And it appears reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke will be on the Camden Yards mound for the Royals next Tuesday.