Orioles’ hitting coach, Jim Presley was one of the guests on WBAL’s “Hot Stove Baseball” show last night and during that interview he told me all I needed to know about the Orioles’ offense this season. Most of it should make Orioles fans cringe, as it made me cringe when I heard it.
1. Team OBP is going to be an issue this year, again.
I wrote about this earlier, but Presley basically confirmed it. When host Jim Hunter talked about OBP and what the team might have to give up to achieve it, Presley gave Adam Jones as an example.
Paraphrasing, he basically said, that Adam Jones could be a hitter that hits only 17-20 HRs with 70-80 RBI and has a .350 OBP but he wanted him to be a hitter that hits 30 HR and has 100 RBI.
Ugh. I think we all would be willing to have Jones sacrifice some HRs and RBI if it meant he took some more walks, because baseball is a team sport, and Jones doesn’t have to be the guy every night. Just look at Mike Trout – he’s not quite a 30 HR/100 RBI guy and he’s the most valuable player in baseball. And if a player like Jones gets on base, well that’s more runs that can be driven in. Not to mention working the count for walks and getting on base, tires out pitchers faster, leading to more mistakes they make and more runs they ultimately give up.
It’s obvious Presley cares only about runs scored, and not how you get them, and he prefers HRs to OBP in terms of how you get them.
Don’t expect anybody like David Lough to have help from Presley improving his OBP.
2. Matt Wieters is not going to reach his offensive potential as an Oriole.
This was probably one of the most aggravating things to hear. When asked about Wieters regaining his offensive skills, Presley basically let him off the hook saying that his game preparation was much more important to the team, calling him the best catcher in baseball, which we know isn’t true.
Presley admitted Wieters’ RH swing was superior to his LH swing and said that he’d be a much better hitter if he concentrated more on that part of his game. However, the Orioles are content on getting his 20+ HRs and what he gives behind the plate as the offense comes second to that.
OK, so we are going to take the guy that had one of the best seasons in MiLB history and just let that potential go to waste because of his perceived superior catching skills? Yeah the guy has an arm, but his defense is highly overrated. And how many ERA titles have the Orioles won because of him behind the plate? His framing of pitches is known to be poor.
If Wieters were to either give up switch hitting, or concentrate more on his hitting, perhaps you could unlock some of that potential. Since Wieters is going to be squatting behind the plate every night for Buck Showalter and that is the most important part of his game, Orioles fans will never see his true offensive ability.
If he’s still got his health, the next team to acquire Wieters is going to bring that out in him, guaranteed. I hope he’s traded sooner than later, because his defensive skills aren’t going to last and his batting skills are rotting in Baltimore.
3. Expect to see Julio Borbon and Quintin Berry in Baltmore in 2014.
Presley mentioned Borbon and Berry numerous times in the interview, citing their on-base ability, saying that they were both going to help the team win.
Both Borbon and Berry have had shots at the MLB level and haven’t stuck. For both, this is their third team and both are getting old to be in the minors. Berry was on the World Series roster for the Tigers in 2012 and the Red Sox last year so he’s got that going for him but he only owns a career .353 OBP in the minors. Borbon has bounced around from the Rangers to the Cubs and really besides his rookie season hasn’t shown much. His career MiLB OBP is .357.
I’m not sure why .350 is viewed by the Orioles such a good OBP at the minor league level, because it doesn’t translate to MLB on a 1 to 1 basis.
I’ve proven this when comparing Nate McLouth and David Lough, who interestingly enough, Presley didn’t mention last night even though he’s in camp.
4. Duquette may be working to acquire a hitter or two.
Presley kind of mentioned this in passing but it is important, because they do need to improve their OBP, and it’s not going to happen working with this hitting coach. Instead the Orioles will need the proven OBP talent at the MLB level and there are trade opportunities with Ike Davis, Justin Smoak and Andre Ethier out there and on the block that could improve the club. I just hope they don’t bring in Kendrys Morales, who I’ve proved is declining, and won’t be worth the cost.
So needless to say, with the lack of importance put on OBP by the hitting coach, the failure to have Wieters do something major to improve his offense, and the Orioles thinking a .350 MiLB OBP is impressive, we as fans are in for a long, frustrating season if Duquette can’t get more OBP for the offense.
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