Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Orioles 2012: Bottom of the 5th
Jim Thome is a sure fire, first ballot Hall of Famer and one of the most under-appreciated power hitters in Major League history. Have 600+ home runs ever been hit so quietly? At 41, he is still plenty good enough to make solid offensive contributions every night. I have nothing but the highest respect for him as an athlete.
Photo via Baseball Nation
And yet, I wonder at the wisdom of my Orioles trading away a couple of prospects for him a couple weeks back. At the time, the Birds were clinging desperately to a playoff position and I can understand wanting to beef up a lineup overrun with injuries. But is this really the best way for a team on the rise to spend its resources? His .364 on-base percentage since joining the team is respectable, though the .297 slugging percentage is not exactly up to his usual lofty standards. Unquantifiable, of course, is his value as a clubhouse presence. It certainly can't hurt to have a player of his caliber and experience around to set an example for the Birds' talented, though still frightfully young team.
Meanwhile, Baltimore's playoff prospects seem to be slipping away. The downward spiral continues as the O's have only won two of the past nine games. In that stretch, they have struggled against contenders (Angels, Tigers) and doormats (Twins) alike. One hopes that they can at least pull things together in time to salvage their first winning season since the Clinton administration.
Photo via Lansing State Journal
One of the best stories of the past week for the Orioles was the extra-inning heroics of Taylor Teagarden on July 14th. Called up as a backup catcher from the minors, Teagarden made his first appearance as a defensive sub after Matt Wieters was pulled for a pinch runner in the tenth against the Tigers. The game carried on to the 13th when, in just his second Major League at-bat of the season, Teagarden hit a walk-off, 2-run homer. Unfortunately, he's had no hits in his three at-bats since.
Photo via WWMX-FM
On July 7th, Joe Mahoney had his Major League debut, starting at first base against the Angels. He went 0-for-3 and was sent back to the minors soon afterwards. He was the organizations' minor league player of the year in 2010.