Dave Trembley’s official role in the Orioles organization is that of manager. However, recently the Orioles offensive struggles have forced Trembley into the role of chemist. Time and time again Trembley has mixed and moved nearly everyone around in the lineup in an effort to score runs.
The Orioles have been held to two runs or less a whopping 16 times and only once did they come away with a victory in those outings.
Now Trembley is running out of options with the club’s current collection of players. It hasn’t been for lack of effort, Trembley has continually moved the O’s hottest bat all year, Ty Wigginton, to allow him to drive in runs and Nick Markakis has returned to form, but so far the changes have not translated into better results.
With the loss of primary lead-off man Brian Roberts and early replacement Felix Pie the O’s batting order conundrum starts with the first batter to step foot in the box. Adam Jones, Julio Lugo, and Cesar Izturis have all seen time in the No. 1 position, but none have achieved any meaningful success in the role.
Not surprisingly the Orioles rank last in the American League in Runs and RBI from the lead-off position. Jones is clearly not the answer as he continues to struggle with a .257 on base percentage through the beginning of May and a team leading 31 strikeouts.
Lugo and Izturis are middling offensive contributors with .292 and .270 on base percentages respectively and there is no reasonable expectation for them to improve any time soon.
However, the O’s have no true alternatives in the major leagues. Nick Markakis has the average, speed, and on base percentage to flourish there, but the O’s can ill afford to move Markakis from a position where he can drive in runs. Markakis is fourth on the team in RBI and is just now starting to swing the bat up to his expectations.
The O’s offense, whenever present, has largely been fueled by Markakis, Miguel Tejada, Matt Wieters, and the aforementioned Wigginton. Wigginton with his ten home runs has driven in the lion’s share of runs with 20 RBI.
On the other hand, it is unlikely that Wigginton continues to hit homers at a record pace and that is how a considerable amount of his RBI have been generated.
Wieters continues to show improvement and the more power he displays the more potent the O’s offense will become offensively. His slugging percentage of .425 leaves something to be desired, but he is still one of the club’s most reliable offensive players in his first full season.
The best formula for the Orioles offensive success seems to be to position a mix of these four players two through five in the lineup. Then the Orioles must hope to get as many contributions from the bottom of the order as possible until Roberts can solidify the lineup one through five.
Unfortunately, the Orioles and Trembley don’t have time to waste. The losses continue to pile up and they may be forced to make some roster changes. If they continue to struggle Jones, Luke Scott, and Lou Montanez all have minor league options available.
If Trembley or Andy MacPhail feel that they can benefit from another burst of offense like they got from Rhyne Hughes it wouldn’t be shocking if one of the three is soon a member of the Norfolk Tides.