Thursday, July 10, 2008


Well it's happened.

The Orioles are a game back under .500 for the first time since June 12th and look night-and-day different than the O's team that stayed competitive for much of the first half.

They're blowing leads and they're unable to come back from deficits they came back from earlier in the season.

Where "O" Where has Oriole Magic gone?

It's disappeared with the Matt Albers, Adam Loewen and Alex Cintron injuries, relegating the likes of Ryan Bukvich, Alberto Castillo and Brandon Fahey to major league fill-ins.

It's disappeared with Brian Burres, Garrett Olson, and Radhames Liz's early season success evaporating like a summer morning fog.

We've seen what a 162-game season can do to pitchers. They break down, they get injured, they struggle and they get overworked.

And then maybe they're not as good as we thought.

Any doubters of the Brian Matusz draft pick should be silenced by now, after seeing what has happened to that "pitching depth."

True, there are still some good arms down on the farm. David Hernandez and Brad Bergeson could see some time in Baltimore this year, but both of them are only at AA-level Bowie, and GM Andy MacPhail has said he's not going to rush players through the minors. 20-year-old pitching phenom Chris Tillman has succeeded at Bowie as well, but struggles to go more than 5 IP, and could be dealing with arm soreness.

So get used to the AAA-fodder we're seeing get called up to Baltimore. There's likely to be more of it.

As for the rest of this season, the only thing that can salvage it from a fan's interest standpoint is trades.

Players like Aubrey Huff and Brian Roberts would fetch a nice return, as they are both playing great ball right now and are both still under contract through 2009. And as we've seen, pitching depth can get shallow fast. Trades involving Huff and Roberts could add to the pitching depth while filling in some of the positional depth that this organization sorely lacks beyond Matt Wieters.

Players like Payton, Hernandez, Walker and Bradford don't fit into this team's long-term plans. They barely fit into this team's present plans. All of them should be traded as well.

As the dog-days of summer kick in, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see the O's stay under .500 for the rest of the season. After all there is still one more game to play in Toronto before traveling to Boston for three games with the Red Sox.

The question remains. Will Andy MacPhail stay the course he started down when he traded Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada? Or will his rigidness in trades hurt this franchise?

That's about the only thing 2008 has left going for it.

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