Baltimore Orioles: What exactly is the root of the problem?

You’re only as good as your next day’s starter; and Chris Tillman wasn’t very good last night for the Baltimore Orioles. Tillman’s line: 1.0 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 0 K. There were times it appeared Tillman wasn’t going to make it out of the first inning, in which he surrendered five runs. Tillman’s issue last night was throwing strikes; the only pitch he was able to get in the zone was his slider. And that was always on the outer part of the plate.

What to do with Tillman is an interesting question. If you listen to some fans talk, he should be DFA’d. But that’s no easy decision to make when you’re on the hook for his salary for the season, and he’d probably end up on another team. The bullpen also remains a possibility – perhaps you swap Tillman and Mike Wright. Ultimately the O’s don’t have to decide that now, as they have an off day on Monday. In theory they could just skip Tillman next time through the rotation.

Anaheim kept the pressure on, smacking hit after hit, and drawing base runners in anyway possible. The universe seems hellbent on teaching the Orioles that putting people on base is the name of the game – not hitting home runs. The Birds had eight hits last night, but they could only get three runners home. Manny Machado and Chris Davis had RBI-singles in the sixth, and Machado also plated a run by another RBI-single in the eighth.

But what exactly is going on with this team? There were times as late as last summer where they looked unstoppable – dating back to 2012. The likes of Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, and Chris Tillman have been together for that amount of time. And there are others mixed in who have been here perhaps not quite as long but quite a few years. Again, what gives?

There are fans out there who are of the belief that we’re seeing the real Orioles now, and that they were pretenders all of that time. People have to be smart enough to realize that’s not the case. This was a good team for a great many years. Let’s put it this way; a diamond ring doesn’t turn brass overnight.

Are there problems in the clubhouse? Could be, but this is still a very tight-knit group. Part of it is injuries, which have done the Orioles no favors. Losing Jonathan Schoop (who begins a rehab assignment at double-A Bowie this weekend and could be activated on Tuesday) hurt their infield defense and their hitting. And obviously losing Zach Britton to a freak injury in the off season has affected the bullpen. And don’t underestimate the loss (both on the field and psychological) of J.J. Hardy. That plays a factor as well.

And there are other factors as well. I would submit that while signing Alex Cobb in spring training was a good move, there was also a mistake wrapped into that as well. They signed Cobb too late. He got into no games during Grapefruit League play, which has affected his play thus far early in the season. The same is true to a lesser degree with Andrew Cashner, who signed once camp had already begun.

However that aside, tried, true, and proven talent that’s regressing well beyond the mean. And it boggles the mind in a sense. This team was no-hit through five innings by a guy making his third big league start last night. Surely one would think that they could have done better than that. Yet they couldn’t. So what’s wrong with this team? Beats the heck out of me.

The O’s now head north up the California coastline to open up a three-game set in Oakland. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Daniel Mengden. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

4 Comments

Long time reader here – from Bird Watcher. I can tell you what the issue is: Buck. He thinks that his attention to detail makes him the smartest guy in the room. He’s so focused on making sure they pay close attention to detail the guys aren’t having fun and don’t want to play for him. It’s a job and they are just going through the motions. Guys on other teams go full force into walls to catch balls and keep guys off base because their managers let them have fun. And since they are having fun they play better. He needs to loosen his grip or it will only get worse.

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Jay, first off thanks for reading me all this time. I don’t know however if Buck’s the issue. He has a very deliberate way of operating, and he’s probably more educated about the game and how it ebbs and flows than 99% of the other managers out there. Guys like Chris Davis and Adam Jones have always seemed to appreciate that. Ultimately he’s not out there executing the plays, however. And I would submit that execution’s been their problem – not coaching. Thanks again for sticking with me all this time!

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Look at Davis trying to field that foul pop in the first inning last night. If he were playing looser he would have gottens to that ball.

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I’ll grant you that was a big play. But there’s also a railing there and any player has to be mindful of that because if you go head first into the dugout you’re going to get hurt.

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