This is now the sixth part of my multi-part series, "Around the Diamond," as today we look over to left field.
I decided to stay the course and not get lazy, so I'm going to hit every outfield position instead of just grouping them all together.
Last offseason, the Orioles had one primary left fielder, Jay Payton. After several deals were completed and the season came and went in a flash, the Orioles were stuck with two left fielders.
We could add another this year if you'd like.
After the Houston trade, the O's brought in left-handed slugger Luke Scott to add some "pop" to the position that had been previously referred to as "weak." Scott did his job, hitting for a .257 batting average, with 23 home runs, 65 RBI, and 67 runs scored.
Scott not only brings a power bat to the lineup, but he also brings an explosive arm. Formerly known as a right fielder with the Astros, Scott came into Baltimore filling in the final outfield spot available. With his acquisition, the O's were left with three cannon arms at each outfield spot, something that they had lacked in previous years with Jay Payton in left field and Corey Patterson in center.
Though Scott is a force in the batting order, one thing that may get him is his age. He is now 30 years old, as he now begins to hit the midpoint in his career. Some people may say, "He is only 30, he probably has some good years left in him." I say that this is true; however, you also have to look to the future.
The future of the left field spot currently lies in the hands of youngsters Lou Montanez and Nolan Reimold.
Lou Montanez got his opportunity to shine at the end of last year, and he did not disappoint. In only 112 at-bats, Lou hit for a .295 average, with three homeruns, 14 RBI, and 18 runs scored. Not too shabby for a prospect who wasn't even on the radar coming into the season.
Montanez and Scott will most likely compete for the starting job come spring training, unless a deal was to occur between now and then (which, at the moment, seems favorable).
Now to Reimold.
Last season with the AA Bowie Baysox, Reimold hit for a .284 average, with 25 home runs, 84 RBI, and 87 runs scored. Multiple injuries have slowed his progression into a Major League player, but many (including myself) believe that he will get his chance at some point during the '09 season.
There is one more option that the O's may have at the left field spot, but where is he?
Let me give you a few hints: he's not on the O's big league roster, he's not in the farm system, and he's not a free agent.
To find him we have to look to a completely different division, the National League Central. We must look at the Cubs.
Recently, Baltimore has been rumored to be involved in a three-way deal between the O's, Cubs, and Padres. In the deal, the Orioles would be sending youngster Garrett Olson (SP) to the Cubs for outfielder Felix Pie.
Pie is one of the Cubs' most highly touted prospect, but he did not show it in 2008. While in the pros, he hit for a .241 average, with one home run, 10 RBI, and nine runs scored. He is mostly known for his speed, yet he has a strong arm and he is a potential 20+ homer threat.
So what's my take on the deal?
I don't like it. That is as simple as I can put it. I just believe that the Orioles should be looking to grab Cubs' backup shortstop Ronny Cedeno instead of looking at a position where the Birds are stacked. I'm not Andy MacPhail, though, so my word counts as nothing. Besides, as I said before, it is just a rumor, so don't get your hopes up just yet.
So, for now, the Orioles' left field position looks crowded, yet talented. With veterans and rookies alike, the outfield seems to be shaping up better than ever, with more talented prospects coming up each year.
So who's really the next guy to start at the position?
Even Felix Pie?
I'm sure I'll be hitting on this subject again after the winter meetings conclude.