Thursday, August 7, 2008

Free Kicks

Yes, so Windsor is STILL on vacation, so y’all are getting your Free Kicks a day early this week. Though I think with Chris Waters and Luis Montanez up with the club, y’all are getting enough prospect reports for the week just by watching the games- that is, if you could bear to watch the first 4 innings of yesterday's game. However, the O’s may have even bigger problems than that 9-4 disaster… let’s line up for the kick.

“Center” Stage

As you may be aware, Adam Jones is going on the DL with a foot injury that could keep him out for the rest of the season. There have been thoughts about bringing him back for the last few weeks of the season, but what would be the point? By that time the Orioles will have the expanded roster and will be trying out a whole host of players, the team might as well give Adam the longest possible time frame to heal. Besides, Jones is one of the cornerstones of the Orioles of the future; there is no reason to risk any aggravation of that injury just to have him play in a few meaningless games.

However, I think it is being understated the impact his absence will have. Jay Payton is not an everyday center fielder, and even Luis (Lou) Montanez is a corner outfielder. Having to put Payton in the lineup everyday with his .241 batting average and .277 on base percentage will only drag down the Orioles offense even more. With the exception of Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts and Aubrey Huff, this team is not hitting consistently (before you shout about Luke Scott, note the word “consistently”). With the Orioles struggling to get back to .500, Jones’ absence will likely derail any attempt to get back to that point this season. Late season swoon? Probably not. But .500? No way.

Back on Top- For Now

I’m not quite obsessive enough about the minors to put together a solid prospect report like Windsor, but now we find ourselves with Montanez likely with the club for a long look and something must be noted about him. Drafted with the 3rd overall pick in 2000, Luis (apparently he goes by Lou so that is what we are sticking with here), never quite lived up to his potential with the Chicago Cubs- but then again, up until this year, who did? A shrewd and overlooked move at the time, Montanez came to the Orioles via a Rule 5 pick acquired in the Sammy Sosa deal. Before the Orioles brought him up, Lou was going for the Eastern League Triple Crown at Bowie, with 26 home runs, 97 RBI, and a .334 batting average, at long last displaying the skills that made him such a top rated prospect. So perhaps after all these years the Orioles may finally get the power bat they were looking for out of that deal.

Yesterday, Montanez hit a home run in his first ever major league at-bat, the lone bright spot in the 9-4 debacle at the hands of the Angels. In the bottom of that inning, he committed his first error. Has that ever happened before? Bonus points to anyone who can figure out whether a player has ever homered in his first major league at-bat AND committed an error in the same inning.


Who is Garrett Olson? I won’t rehash it because I have said it too much before, but if his problems are mental they needs to be dealt with and if they are physical, well, it isn’t physical. I can’t help but scratch my head after he has batters looking foolish one night and then serves up multiple home runs with a side of shame in his next start. Even if he delivers a gem like last week’s every once in a while, his 6.06 ERA is not going to cut it. It isn’t as though the Orioles have any choice this season; they have to put him out there every 5th night and hope things work out and that he gets his head under control.

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