• Alex Remington of Yahoo! Sports writes that Mark Reynolds' big drop in Ks might not be a good thing.
If Babe Ruth invented the home run, then Mark Reynolds invented the strikeout. He's the only man to ever strike out 200 times in a season, and he's done it three years running, all while hitting 104 homers in the thin desert air. But the 2010 Diamondbacks set an all-time team record for strikeouts, and new general manager Kevin Towers identified Reynolds as the personification of the problem -- which of course he was, if you believe that strikeouts are a problem -- and Towers shipped his hot corner star out to Baltimore for a couple of relievers.
But a funny thing happened now that Reynolds has arrived at Camden Yards: He has started striking out less. It's weird to even type this, but Reynolds isn't even in the top 15 in strikeouts this year. He's actually tied for 18th, with 30 in 30 games, well beyond Detroit Tigers teammates Austin Jackson and Ryan Raburn (who have 43 and 41, respectively). Last year, Reynolds struck out in 35.4 percent of his plate appearances; this year he's striking out in 25.9 percent, a major decrease. Likewise, last year, 31 percent of his strikeouts were swinging strikes; this year, it's down to just 25 percent. That's still much higher than the league average of 15 percent, but it's a substantial drop for him.
The trouble is, that's not the only thing that's dropped. • Larry Stone of The Seattle Times looked back on the trade that sent Erik Bedard to Seattle.
It's hard not to arrive in Baltimore, see that Chris Tillman is scheduled to pitch tonight against Felix Hernandez, and not reflect on the most controversial Mariners trade of the last decade.
No, I'm not talking about Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez.
You know the one: Bill Bavasi, going all-in for the 2008 season, sent outfielder Adam Jones, and pitchers George Sherrill, Kam Mickolio, Tony Butler and Tillman, to the Orioles for Erik Bedard, a deal announced on Feb. 8, 2008. It was actually Jan. 27 when Jones was sent home from his winter league team in Venezuela and told a reporter there, "[Bavasi] called me [Saturday] and told me the news. I've got to go to Baltimore [this] morning and handle things there. I'm the centerpiece of the deal on the Mariners' side. It's an honor to get traded for such a highly talented pitcher as Bedard is."
There ensued a furious debate about the wisdom of the trade, with some people, including myself, believing it was a gamble worth taking (though mindful of the risk), and others -- the majority, I'd say -- believing Bavasi had given up way, way too much.
• Stan Charles of PressBox wonders where the Orioles' homegrown talent has been since Cal Ripken Jr.
The Orioles developed Cal Ripken Jr. from 1978 until he came up in the big leagues for good in 1982. The next everyday player developed from scratch to become a serious contributor for the Orioles was Brian Roberts, who made his major-league debut in 2001 -- nearly 20 years after Ripken came to Baltimore. Nick Markakis followed Roberts just five years later.
Next has come Matt Wieters, and after that the developmental cupboard is pretty bare -- save Manny Machado, who is at least two full seasons away.
There are four positional players at Triple-A Norfolk with major-league talents: Nolan Reimold, Ryan Adams, Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder. The only one with a solid taste of the big leagues is Reimold, who is fast becoming a more modern version of Floyd Rayford, who parlayed a great second half of 1985 into expectations dashed in 86. Reimold had that eye-opening second half of 2009, and then, like Rayford, a deflating follow-up in 2010.
It would be relatively shocking to see any impact from the other three. And there is the rub with our baseball team -- fans hear the oft-repeated MacPhail mantra of "growing the arms and buying the bats," but why is it seemingly impossible for this club to develop any type of consistent talent in the pipeline?
• CSN Baltimore's John Eisenberg writes that Orioles manager Buck Showalter is facing his first true test.
The Orioles went down with a whimper over the weekend, losing three games to the Tampa Bay Rays without ever holding a lead. Their starters didn't pitch well. Their hitters continued not to hit. They were as lifeless as the small crowds that quietly watched them go down at Camden Yards.
With 18 losses in their last 26 games, they're back in an oh-so-familiar place, last place in the American League East, having successfully killed off the modest buzz they generated in early April.
All of which means Buck Showalter's tenure as the club's manager is really just beginning.
• John McGrath of The Olympian explores whether Orioles outfielder Felix Pie defused disaster -- or just avoided a bruise -- by apologizing for Tuesday's altercation with Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak.
There wasn't a sequel to a strange incident that cleared the benches Tuesday, when the Orioles' Pie tried to juke Smoak, then took objection to the first baseman's emphatic tag. No punches were exchanged, only words and the sense that Pie could be a target for a follow-up appointment with Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez.
Those eagerly anticipating Part II -- here's thinking of you, Norm [Charlton] -- had to be disappointed that Pie deflated a potentially tense night with an apology. But Pie's decision to take the high road was for the best.
Hernandez didn't need to be embroiled in somebody else's feud. Had he administered payback to Pie, the Orioles likely answer by throwing at Smoak, one of the few productive hitters in a lineup that's less interesting than a side dish of plain rice.
And then there's the ensuing brawl, which would've been reminiscent of a memorable fight between the same teams, on the same field. Three Orioles and five Mariners -- including manager Lou Piniella and, of course, Charlton -- were ejected on June 6, 1993, after a 20-minute showdown instigated by Mike Mussina's plunking of Seattle catcher Bill Haselman.
[Compiled by Matt Vensel]