It was disappointing to see the O's lose a winnable game, but I also don't think the defensive issues that cost them the victory last night are going to be a long-term problem.
Then again, perhaps it is a noteworthy issue, since the club's principal struggle (besides an almost total lack of capable starting pitchers) seems to be putting all of the parts of the game together. For the most part, they get terrible pitching when they score enough runs to win, or fail to score any runs when they get decent pitching,
Or in this case, make stupid defensive and base-running mistakes in close games they ought to win. My feeling is that the kind of cohesion required to correct this kind of thing can only come from an overall attitude shift—the team has to play with an awareness of its youthful potential. I'm not saying that won't come soon enough--but it ain't here yet.
A thornier question might be whether or not Dave Trembley is the right manager to bring about such a large-scale emotional sea-change. Not that Trembley isn't a capable manager—I think he does an extraordinary job with young players, providing them with patience and support rather than pressuring them into feeling like their jobs are on the line every second of every game.
At the same time, he made the right call with Felix Pie, who couldn't get the job done when Reimold did, and was accordingly benched. He also seems capable of managing the egos of his veterans. Both Luke Scott and Ty Wigginton have complained in print about certain team decisions this year, but it doesn't seem to have infected the team dynamic or adversely affected either players on-field performance.
His recent lineup-tinkering, batting Markakis second and Jones third against lefties, is both strategically shrewd and well-timed. The Orioles somnambulent offense is in need of a shake-up. He has also shown himself to be extremely adept at using the bullpen to its maximum capacity without running everybody down—and that's with a starting rotation that forces him to turn to the 'pen far more than he should have to.
So we can be certain that Trembley is an excellent manager in the truest sense of the word—his ability to manage his players to play at the peak of their potential is unquestionable. However, this much is to be expected from a man who spent twenty-some seasons toiling in the minor leagues, where his principal role is to do just that—bring players along to the point where they are ready to compete at the major league level.
The thing that Trembley has never been asked to do is win. After twelve excruciating seasons, Orioles fans suddenly find themselves in the unfamiliar position of having a team that is capable of winning at least as many games as it loses. And dammit, they're ready to see what that feels like.
None of this is to say that Trembley should lose his job, necessarily. But it does seem, to this life-long O's fan at least, that Trembley may be a more ideal bench coach, whereas someone like Art Howe, say, who guided the youthful Oakland Athletics to four consecutive winning seasons and three playoff berths from 1999-2002, may be better-suited to a team like our Orioles, perched ever so precariously on the cusp of greatness, and in dire need of a kick in the ass.
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