Reason #387 The Orioles are Terrible
Considering this is the team that coughed up a 30-spot against Texas, you would think this would be pitching related, but no. The single stat that reveals the depth of the Orioles' futility is this:
Jay Payton: 455 Plate Appearances.
In these 455 plate appearances, Payton has batted .254 with a .289 OBP and a .361 slugging percentage.
There are instances when such offensive totals are acceptable:
1. You're a young prospect adapting to Major League Pitching and are expected to improve. Payton is 34 years old.
2. You're a defensive wizard at a key position. Payton plays left field, and tonight he's played the Jays right back into the game with a pair of miscues.
3. You've also pitched 200 quality innings.
4. It's 1906 and you're playing in the National League.
It's simply unfathomable that this is the best the Orioles could do for a left fielder, particularly when the front office showed some creativity in snagging Jeremy Guthrie off waivers. You'd think that plucking a cheap, quality starter off the scrap heap might have inspired them to try the same with a hitter - particularly when hitters are a lot easier to find. Just ask the Devil Rays and Reds, who've managed to revive the careers of Josh Hamilton and Carlos Pena.
Hitting is a fairly resilient skill, and there are all kinds of examples of once hot prospects who resurfaced in their mid-to-late 20s and had good careers. Brandon Phillips was once written off by the Indians. He notched his 30th homer of the season for the Reds this past week. After losing his lustre as young Expo, Matt Stairs bounced back to have big seasons with the Oakland A's.
The Orioles would have been wise to take a flier on another player currently in the Jays dugout.
John-Ford Griffin is 27, a former first round pick, and he hit 28 home runs at AAA. He's no world beater, but he could be had for the asking, and wouldn't you rather hand him 450 PAs for the league minimum than to let Payton suck up outs for $4.5 million? You'd be hard pressed to find a AAA left fielder who wouldn't
be an upgrade over Payton.
The Orioles have some interesting players: a Cy Young candidate in Erik Bedard and the foundation of a decent lineup with the likes of Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis. But as long as the guy in left field is struggling to outhit John McDonald, the only race they're going to be in is with the Devil Rays to stay out of the AL East basement.