Monday, May 17, 2010

Moves that need to be made now

At 12-26, the Orioles are struggling to get out of the hole they dug for themselves with that abysmal 2-16 start. And while the moves I am advocating won't likely make the O's a much better team, they are moves that take the long-term into account. And really, that is what losing teams should be doing in a lost year -- seeing who can be a part of the future, and who should go.

Move #1: Justin Turner over Julio Lugo

With Brian Roberts injured, the O's have given 56 plate appearances to a 35-year old Julio Lugo, who won't be an Oriole in 2011 and may not make it to the end of the 2010 season in orange and black. Lugo used to be a decent infielder, and despite his horrid .458 OPS thus far in Baltimore, he is a career .724 OPS player. And for a SS, that is great. But let's face it, he's on his way out of baseball. Most players signed by the Orioles usually are.

Justin Turner was on the Orioles at one point in 2010, but if you blinked, you missed him. He only received 9 AB's while he was here and failed to collect a hit. He is now back in Norfolk. Turner has a career .371 OBP and with Roberts on the mend, you'd think that Turner would have been inserted into the lead-off spot. Wrong. Dave Trembley and the Orioles fumbled this chance to see what Turner can do by batting a struggling Adam Jones in the lead-off spot in a majority of the games since Roberts was injured.

Putting Turner at 2B would allow Ty Wigginton to move to 1B where Garrett Atkins is basically a hologram at the plate. Which leads me to...

Move #2 Michael Aubrey over Garrett Atkins

Much has been said about Garrett Atkins ever since Andy MacPhail signed Atkins in the offseason and then shocked O's fans even further when he said Atkins would play 1B after 4 years of decreasing numbers at the plate. On May 17th, I've run out of words to describe how much he sucks.

The O's tried Rhyne Hughes out for a couple of weeks, and got nothing out of it. Hughes is back down at Norfolk. But that doesn't mean the O's are out of options at 1B. Remember Michael Aubrey? Aubrey played 1B for the O's late last season after Aubrey Huff was traded to the Tigers. And he actually performed pretty well. Compare his 2009 numbers with Atkins' 2010 numbers and they speak for themselves...

2010 Atkins
105 PA
7 2B
0 HR
.243 AVG
.271 OBP
.311 SLG
.582 OPS

2011 Aubrey
95 PA
7 2B
4 HR
14 RBI
.289 AVG
.326 OBP
.500 SLG
.826 OPS

So in roughly the same amount of playing time, Michael Aubrey has completely outperformed Garrett Atkins. Yet Atkins is making $4.5 million in 2010 while Michael Aubrey is fighting for playing time at 1B in Norfolk with Nolan Reimold and Rhyne Hughes.

Michael Aubrey probably won't be a long-term solution in Baltimore, but he will be an instant improvement over Atkins and could become a decent bench player used as a pinch hitter. This move should be made immediately.

You may be wondering where Ty Wigginton fits into all of this, since Turner at 2B and Aubrey at 1B leaves Wigginton without a position. Of course I would like to see Wigginton at 1B over Aubrey, but in my scenario, the next move is...

Move #3 Trade Ty Wigginton

Wigginton is a free agent after the season and unlikely to be back once this career year jacks up his price tag. I like Ty, and I think he is an asset on any team in the major leagues. But as good as Wigginton has been, and he has been great thus far, he would probably help the Orioles more in a trade than playing out the year in Baltimore. And if MacPhail can get a MLB-ready SS prospect, or a decent pitching prospect in a trade for Wigginton then I would make the move.

So there you have it. If I were GM of the Orioles, these moves would be made today. But hey, I didn't sign Garrett Atkins to a $4.5 million deal, so I wouldn't have to stick with him as long as possible to prove to everyone that I didn't completely shit the bed by signing him. So in reality, Garrett Atkins is probably your 1B until Brian Roberts comes back from the DL at which point, Wigginton moves to 1B and Atkins is benched permanently or released.

Who the hell knows what happens with Lugo.

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