Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Who's no longer on first, Who's in left field

Aside from the question of which of the many arms in O's camp will survive long enough to make the parent club, one of the most intriguing Spring Training story lines offers a unique take on the classic Abbott and Costello routine - Who's no longer on first, Who's in left field.

Steve DeClue of The Examiner thinks the Birds should trade Luke Scott to free up room for Felix Pie, backed by Lou Montanez, Ryan Freel, and/or Nolan Reimold.
"While Scott played well in his first season in Baltimore, because of his age, he should be the odd man out in what has become an incredibly crowded outfield situation.
Nick Markakis and Adam Jones are already cornerstones of the franchise, and the team traded for both Felix Pie and Ryan Freel this offseason. While Freel doesn't figure into the long-term plans, Pie most certainly does. He's had plenty of success in Triple-A, so he needs to be an everyday player and show what he can do at the big league level.

The Orioles also have Lou Montanez, another former Cub who really shined in limited time at the end of last season. Then there is Nolan Reimold, one of the team's top position prospects. He will be 25-years old and needs to be playing in the major leagues.

I know the team plans to use Scott almost exclusively as a designated hitter, but they would be better off clearing some roster space and letting Reimold get some action. Obviously, the team wants to win games this year, but the goal is to be a contender in 2010 and beyond."
Heath, of Dempsey's Army, disagrees.
"Who’s going to DH? Ty Wigginton? Scott is a legitimate offensive threat, even if he should be platooned from time to time. And I’d like to have a deep bench going into the season for a change. Having Scott on the team gives Dave Trembley a lot of options. On off days, Scott makes an imposing pinch hitter.

DeClue also mentions Lou Montanez and Nolan Reimold….let’s just set all this straight right now.

I like Montanez. Like him. I don’t love him. I would have been fine with him starting the season as the fourth outfielder. But the fact that he probably won’t be makes this team better. He was an average hitter at best and was a poor fielder by almost any measure you want to use. He’s 27 this season. He may get better but not that much better. Like him. Don’t get the fascination some fans have with the guy.

I like Reimold a lot but last season was the first year that he’s been healthy and produced. And it was at AA. I’d like to see him have some success in Norfolk before promoting him to the big club. Hardly a reason to trade Scott right now.

If the O’s decide to move Scott at the trading deadline this season, I’m all for it. But let’s take a look at this lineup as currently constructed before trading every veteran who’s not nailed down."

Meanwhile, back in mid-March, Weaver's Tantrum made a common-sense argument against trading Luke Scott by asking the following: What are you going to get in return?
"The O's never traded Roberts because they never got the right offer. I think the same is true of Scott. There isn't a market for him. To make a deal worthwhile for Baltimore, a trading partner would have to give up a prospect with significant potential, hopefully a pitcher or infielder. Maybe a young but proven back-end starter. Who would give that up when Griffey Jr. and Jim Edmonds are both available without giving up so much as a draft pick? Edmonds does exactly what Scott does. He hits righties well and plays solid defense. Depending on exactly what teams are looking for, Nomar, Luis Gonzales, and Garrett Anderson are also available, possibly for nothing but a minor league contract with ST invite. Also, the Yankees, Angels, and A's all have gluts in their outfields and might be willing to trade younger outfielders than Scott. Its a buyers market. I don't see us getting a great deal for Luke. Anything could happen by the trade deadline, but I don't see it right now.


I don't want to see him go unless MacPhail can fleece someone."
Lawrence Barreca, of Bleacher Report, runs through five options in left for the O's, including Justin Christian, and concludes that Pie and Scott will share time in the outfield.

"There is one position on the field, though, that truly remains up for grabs. That spot is in the Orioles' left field.

Let's count everyone who is fighting for the job:

1) Felix Pie
2) Lou Montanez
3) Nolan Reimold
4) Justin Christian
5) Luke Scott

Five, yes five, players that will battle throughout the spring in order to win the job.


Come opening day, I can see Felix Pie and Luke Scott sharing time in left, with Reimold, Montanez, and Christian each sharing the outfield down at Triple-A.

I'm sure we will see glimpses of all five players from time-to-time, but for now, each still must fight to the death for that starting role.

Who knows, someone else may join the mix before it is all said and done."

As I see it, the Orioles traded for Felix Pie so they could play him and see if his enormous potential will finally emerge on a big-league diamond; he'll get plenty of time in left. But even with the other names in the mix, Scott will see his time as DH and as a replacement for Pie. In line with Heath and Weaver's Tantrum, Scott isn't going anywhere until at least the trade deadline, and only then if he can warrant a solid return.

Outside of the obvious positions that are claimed, the name of the game for the O's these days is flexibility, which will allow them to play some good old-fashioned Weaver ball.
And that's not a bad thing.

From Whiz Kid's Baseball Wisdom comes the wisdom of Earl Weaver.
"Weaver: 'By matching your bench-players' strengths to your starters' weaknesses, you can create a 'player' of All-Star caliber from spare parts.' Weaver was famous for his platoons, but they weren't all traditional platoons, like lefty-righty or offense-defense. He would use some unusual platoons to cover for his starters' particular problems. And he's not exaggerating about All-Star caliber, either; guys like Gary Roenicke, John Loewenstein, and Merv Rettenmund were fantastic as one-half of a productive platoon and they made relatively little money. It seems today that generic benches are created for all teams with a select few required role players. Very few managers (and executives) have the courage to build a bench that matches their particular needs, rather than just getting the same guys as everybody else."
It's fitting, then, that the O's primary platoon position this year will be left field, home of the team's most famous, not to mention successful, platoon - Roenicke, Lowenstein, and Ayala. The concern at Roar from 34 isn't as much about who will win out at the position as much as it's about who is ready to rise up and pump his fists while leaving the field on a stretcher a la Brother Lo.

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