And you know what that means.
It means the Orioles' best baseball is behind them and the summer will get hot and long at the Yard as the Orioles continue to show their true colors.
If losing the first 3 games of a 4-game series with Boston is indicative of anything, it's that the O's have a long way to go before they can hang with the big dogs.
So now that the usual two-month run of decent baseball to start the season is over, it's time the Orioles started acting like a team that is in rebuilding mode.
And that means getting rid of some dead weight.
First and foremost, Steve Trachsel.
Trachsel was skipped in the rotation when off days allowed the O's to do it and in his last start Trachsel gave up 9 ER in 1.2 IP against the Rays.
It's clear the Orioles don't have faith in Trachsel getting them quality innings and no one can blame them. Steve Trachsel has a huge fork sticking out of his back.
When Loewen becomes healthy, Trachsel is as good as gone, but why not reward reliever Jim Johnson with a start or two before Loewen is back to get rid of Trachsel a little earlier?
Trachsel may be a good leader for the younger pitchers, but he'd have to be Albert Einstein with them in order to justify keeping him in the rotation at this point.
So it's time for Trax to make some tracks. Away from Baltimore.
Next up is Jay Payton.
Plain and simple, Payton doesn't fit on this team anymore. As a matter of fact, he never did. He was the prototypical dollars-for-mediocrity Flanagan-era signing and his contract is now an albatross hanging across the neck of this team.
It's time to get the most value out of Jay Payton and that is paying him to not be on the team.
He's old, his contract expires at the end of the year, and he's a terrible defender. Plus, he's being mis-used. He still hits LHP at a .805 OPS clip, but he's got more AB's against RHP so far and his .557 OPS against RHP is horrid.
Leave it to the O's to platoon two players the wrong way.
Why Luke Scott and his .887 OPS against RHP is ever sitting against a non-southpaw is baffling to me. Used in the right role on a contending team, Payton can still be a useful player at 35. But at his salary, and with Luis Terrero (.895 OPS in Norfolk) and AA prospect Nolan Reimold on the verge, Jay Payton has never been more expendable.
Andy MacPhail made the right move in releasing Jay Gibbons before the season began, and he should do the same thing with Payton in order to get a good look at Terrero and Reimold.
Next. Why all of Cintron, Bynum and Luis Hernandez are still on the team is ming-boggling. It's time to release Hernandez and give Scott Moore a shot. Yes, he's been slumping in Norfolk, but his career MiL numbers are solid and he plays as many positions as Hernandez. Even in a slump Moore could outhit Hernandez.
And as much as I love Kevin Millar for being a great clubhouse guy and getting the occasional clutch hit, I just don't know why he is still a starter. And while there is no one else on the roster or on the farm to take his place, as soon as a promising career MiL player is put on waivers, the Orioles should snatch them up and hand them a starting gig. Someone like Jason Botts or Josh Phelps would fit the bill. And ironically, the Orioles had their chance to have both of those guys and missed their chance.
Millar is another guy who isn't going to be in Baltimore next year and it's time to start running through the usual suspects who could be. Yes, that may include watching a guy like Botts flail away at everything thrown to him at the plate, but it'd be no worse than Millar at this point.
That's not to take away from Millar. Like I said, he is huge to the chemistry of this team (if there is such a thing -- I bet we'll hear less and less about chemistry the more the O's lose) and his defense is still solid at 1B. But it's time to find the next Kevin Millar. The next 26 year old Kevin Millar that is.
That, along with making solid trades and drafting well is rebuilding, after all.