This might be a blatant overreaction based on a small sample size, but if I'm the Orioles, I'm putting in a call to shortstop J.J. Hardy's agent and seeing if he has any interest in discussing a two-year contract extension. Hardy, 28, is a free agent after the season. His injury history has to be a concern and he's already missed one month this season with the oblique issue. However, when he's been in there, he's been solid, both with the glove and the bat. The Orioles obviously don't have anybody in their system that will be ready to start at that position next season, and steady two-way shortstops are hard to find. Why not see if Hardy has an interest in sticking around and bridging the gap to the Manny Machado era, which will probably start in 2013?
I feel like this is as good of a time as any to point out that much-maligned third baseman Mark Reynolds currently leads the Orioles in homers (10), extra-base hits (22), doubles (12) and walks (32, Luke Scott is next with 19). He is tied with Adam Jones for the team lead in RBIs (32), and second to Jones in runs scored (27). He is also third in steals (four). I'm not sure what my point is other than to point out as low as Reynolds' average is, the Orioles have far bigger problems offensively right now than the guy playing third base.
That May 16th game at Boston sure took a toll on both the Orioles and Red Sox. Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts still hasn't played since he started experiencing concussion-like symptoms after sliding headfirst into first base for an infield single to start the game. Orioles first baseman Derrek Lee strained an oblique in that game and missed nearly three weeks. Now comes word that Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia hurt his right knee in a fall while fielding that Roberts' ball, which deflected off Daisuke Matsuzaka's chest. Surgery is reportedly an option for Pedroia.
Somebody should make sure that the organization's young pitchers watch video of Chris Jakubauskas' five scoreless innings against Oakland on Tuesday. Look, Jakubauskas isn't going to wow anybody with his stuff, and if he was facing the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees Tuesday, it probably would have been a different story. However, albeit against a bad offensive team, Jakubauskas threw strikes, especially with his fastball, moved the ball around and got ahead in counts. As many young Oriole starters have already found out, pitching in the majors isn't easy. But you at least give yourself a chance by commanding your fastball and not consistently getting behind.
You know what would probably excite Oriole officials? Their affiliates going a full day without losing a prospect to an injury. Last night, Single-A Frederick lost outfielder Trent Mummey and first baseman Tyler Townsend, who has been of the system's most productive hitters, to hamstring injuries. A night earlier, Steve Johnson, who has been very good lately for Double-A Bowie, was forced out of the game after he was hit by a comebacker. Top prospect Manny Machado, a shortstop for Single-A Delmarva, just returned this week after missing about a month with a dislocated kneecap. Top pitching prospect Dan Klein, who has been dominant at Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie, is still experiencing right shoulder soreness and will have an MRI Monday. Pitching prospects Ryan Berry, Matt Hobgood and Luis Lebron are still in throwing programs and rehabbing injuries, while Brandon Erbe recently had a setback in his quest to return from shoulder surgery. First baseman Joe Mahoney, the organization's minor league player of the year last season, has played in just 10 games this season because of a variety of injuries. I'm sure I'm missing a couple of guys too, but the point is that it's tough for your farm system to make any progress when its top players can't get or stay on the field.
There was some good news for Triple-A Norfolk last night as Brad Bergesen, in his second start for the Tides, threw a complete-game shutout, limiting Pawtucket to four hits and one walk while striking out eight. He has allowed one earned run in 15 innings since his demotion, though he did walk six guys in his first start. Now, it's Chris Tillman's turn to start putting together some dominant starts.
We wrote this is in our notebook in today's paper, but the Orioles will likely call up a utility infielder in time for Friday's game with Lee going on the bereavement list. Norfolk first baseman Brandon Snyder makes the most sense, but I'm told Josh Bell is getting consideration as well. Luke Scott will probably play first base in two of the three games against Tampa Bay, but I doubt they run him out there on Saturday against lefty David Price.
Orioles minor league pitching coordinator Alan Dunn is in Baton Rouge today to interview for the pitching coach job at Louisiana State University. Dunn is expected to get and accept the job on Paul Mainieri's staff, replacing Tigers pitching coach and recruiting coordinator David Grewe. Dunn, 49, has been in the Orioles organization since late in the 2007 season when then manager Dave Trembley hired him to be the team's bullpen coach. Before that, Dunn spent 15 seasons in the Chicago Cubs organization. Mainieri has extensive ties with the Cubs organization, and that obviously helped Dunn's cause. This is a great opportunity for Dunn, who is an Alabama native. He's a class act and I wish him well.
I assume everybody is pretty sick of talking about the amateur draft. However, one more point I think needs to be made: Don't expect the Orioles to sign as many of their draft picks as they did the past couple of years. Sure, Director of Amateur Scouting Joe Jordan will want to sign all of his early picks, but some of the later-round guys will probably be out of luck if they dream of starting their pro careers immediately. After getting rid of their team in Rookie League Bluefield and also dumping one of their Dominican Summer League teams, the Orioles simply don't have places for all these guys to play unless they plan to release about 30 guys currently in the system. So I'm sure Jordan and his scouts will target the guys that they want to sign the most and plan accordingly.
Interesting note today courtesy of Elias: The Orioles' three-game sweep of Oakland - in which they won by scores of 4-2, 4-0 and 3-2 - marked the first time in nine years that the Orioles have won three consecutive games despite scoring four or fewer runs in each of them. The Orioles three starting pitchers the last time that happened in June 2002 were Travis Driskill, Jason Johnson and Sidney Ponson.