Orioles’ management has recently made several poor decisions regarding the team’s chances to reach the playoffs this year. Management has given up on these upstart Orioles. It is unworthy of the fans and of the player’s efforts.
The American League East, our division, is arguably the toughest division in baseball. Nearly every team is playing near .500 ball or better and that competitiveness is present year after year. It appears inevitable that the only way the Oriole’s will get into a World Series is via the wild card. There are just too many good teams to win the division outright especially as some competitors are spending 4 or 5 times the payroll of the Orioles, the lowest payroll in baseball, which just dropped by $3 million by trading Trey Mancini.
Some would argue that only 4 wild card teams have won the World Series so it is a long shot. But the wild card started in 1994 with one team from each league and recently, it expanded to 3 wild cards from each league and it may go to 4 in the near future. Any chance at winning the World Series is a long shot but the first step requires the team to make the playoffs. Whenever there is a chance of getting a wild card, it is foolish to ignore it as O’s management has done this year.
I don’t think the O’s should have been big buyers at the trade deadline but why would the Orioles trade their waiver wire pickup and all star closer Jorge Lopez and Trey Mancini when they have a shot at the wild card? Management is effectively telling the team that they are not good enough to advance. Why didn’t Mr. Elias know the O’s would do so well this year? No one predicted that the O’s would be in contention for a playoff spot this late in the year so don’t tell me Mr. Elias knows what the results would be if the O’s got in as a wild card.
In 1988 the O’s lost 21 games to start a terrible year. Who predicted the Why Not team in 1989? No one did.
I have lived long enough to see the Orioles in the World Series 6 times. When they were underdogs in the series, the O’s won. As favorites, they lost. So predictions are meaningless. When there is a chance at the ring, go for it.
It was foolish to trade Trey Mancini at a time when the O’s could make a run. For most of Trey’s years in Baltimore, everyone from Mark Trumbo to Chris Davis to Ryan Mountcastle have been playing in Mancini’s position at first base. He was forced to play outfield, a position he was uncomfortable playing. If he had been at first base through many of those Davis years, he would easily have become an All-Star. He was a team player and he did everything the team asked of him. What did the team do for Mr. Mancini? They gave his position to Mountcastle and shipped him off to Houston to save money on baseball’s lowest payroll. That was shabby. What did they get for Mancini? Not much.
The Sporting News recently commented on the prospects the O’s received in the Trey Mancini trade:
Those prospects, right-handed pitchers Seth Johnson and Chayce McDermott, are perfectly capable High-A pitchers. But Johnson is 24 and slated to get Tommy John surgery. McDermott will be 24 in three weeks and has struggled, gotten roughed up at times in High-A ball.
That’s a fairly underwhelming return, especially for a player who has been a cornerstone to your franchise like Mancini.
Elias doesn’t think the Orioles are a playoff team. Literally. He even said it.
The previous paragraph really sums up the problem. Logically, the Orioles may not go far in the playoffs but no one, including Mr. Elias, knows how far they will go. It’s a game. Despite all the analytics in the world, it is very unpredictable. In 1966 the Orioles were heavily favored to lose against the mighty Dodgers and the 1969 Orioles were heavily favored to win against the Mets. The Curse of the Bambino, that long drought of 86 years without a World Series title in Boston, was finally broken in 2004 by a wild card team.
It is strange when the players and fans believe in the team and the team’s management does not. Fans know what we have here. A bunch of guys playing over their heads. But we will never know how this team would have finished out the year with Lopez and Mancini because management gave up on their own team in the middle of a pennant race.
Dudley Thompson lives in Girdletree, MD., population 106. He was born, raised, and lived most of his life in Baltimore. He worked for the News-American on the advertising side until it closed in ‘86. His second career was teaching in juvenile jails for the Maryland State Department of Education. He holds a Masters in Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University, ‘77, and a B.A from the University of Maryland,’74.