Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Luke Scott Bound for DL: What's the next move?

It hasn't been announced officially yet, but there is little doubt that Luke Scott will be headed to the 15-day disabled list very shortly after badly injuring his shoulder in Sunday's loss to the Yankees. The injury occured in a dive back to first base in which, as heard after the game, most likely hurt his rotator cuff. If that is the case, Scott will most likely be out for a long period of time, which begs the question as to what the Orioles next move is. The way I see it there are three possibilities, and I'm ranking them in order of likelihood (least likely to most likely).

3. Nolan Reimold gets called up to replace Scott -- At first glance this seems like the most logical move. After all, both play left field, Reimold has been on a tear and is still a legitimate prospect, and he's shown he has little left to gain from staying in AAA. However, I seriously doubt that this will (or should) take place for a few reasons. The most important reason is that it has been stated very plainly that Trembley does not want to bring Reimold up to be a bench player, but rather he wants Reimold to play almost every day whenever he comes to the big league club. With Felix Pie and Lou Montanez playing left field, the insertion of Reimold would re-introduce a Freel-like conundrum in which there is a logjam where noone can be happy. When Reimold is brought up will be a direct result of how Pie plays over the next few weeks. Pie showed signs of life during Sunday's game when he started for an injured Montanez, going 2-3 with a walk. Right now the team needs to evaluate Pie in left field-- Reimold's opening won't be in replacing Scott, it's in the possible replacement of Pie down the line.

2. Rich Hill takes Scott's roster spot -- Again, doubtful, but not out of the question. This move would entail the Orioles moving to 13 pitchers which, given the consistently short outings of the starters, is not unreasonable. Still, the lack of a bench earlier in the season severely limited Trembley's options late in games, and makes it much harder to get good matchups at the plate. The most sense for Rich Hill's callup is to replace Bob McCrory; McCrory still needs more work at Norfolk, and his demotion can move Hendrickson to the bullpen and allow Hill to take a rotation spot.

1. Oscar Salazar gets called up -- This is by far the most sensible option. Oscar Salazar has been just as hot (if not moreso) at the plate than Nolan Reimold, and unlike Reimold there is no issue with him being a bench player in the majors. Salazar is not considered a prospect due to his age, but does provide a significant bat off the bench (.378 avg, 6 hr in Norfolk) for a pinch hitting role. He is also capable of playing multiple infield positions to give players a day off or provide late-game flexibility. I know I'm making Oscar Salazar sound like Chuck Norris (and he isn't), but he certainly would be an ideal candidate for this situation.

We'll see later today if I'm right; Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun and Roch Kubatko of MASN have previously expressed the same opinion, but I'm more than inclined to agree with them. The real excitement though will be seeing how the Pie experiment is handled over the next couple weeks and how Rich Hill looks against the Royals on Saturday. Losing record? Who cares, it's still great theater.

No comments: