Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jamie Walker Needs Another Chance

After giving up two home runs in Tuesday's loss to the Mariners, Jamie Walker's job in the bullpen could be in trouble. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that Walker's time as an Oriole "may be numbered."

In the article Zrebiec quotes Dave Trembley as saying about Walker's future: "Obviously, I'd like things to be better; I'd like to see him be more effective against left-handed hitters. I'm aware of what's going on. Hopefully, it gets better."

Since he got here in 2007 from Detroit, his job has been to be a lefty-specialist, perhaps even be a setup man at times. His current line is not terrible, a 5.12 ERA with nine strikeouts and no walks. He has yet to earn a decision and has only blown one save. But opponents are batting .373 against him, and he has not been doing well in his job of getting out lefties. He was given another chance this season after struggling last year with injuries, and after starting well, he has done very poorly in the last four weeks.

But this is a little harsh to bring his way. No doubt Walker is struggling, and it is possible he is on his last legs at 38. But the Orioles will not be gaining much with losing Walker. No one will take him in a trade, and he won't go to the minors. Sure he isn't playing well, but he had a wonderful start to the season. Plus, another young arm would have to come up to replace him. The only person that could be brought up as a lefty specialist would be Alberto Castillo from Norfolk, but there is no telling that he will be any better. Chris Ray needs much more time and is not a lefty specialist, and no one else from the Tides would be a valid replacement. The only thing the team would gain by dropping Walker is salvaging a little bit of salary.

Obviously he needs to perform better or else the Orioles truly will need to release him, but for now, it is worth it to try to fix Walker's problems and keep him as an Orioles. Maybe he will be able to pitch better with more time from Matt Wieters. Maybe the pressure will get him to perform better. Give him the chance, for now.

(Photo credit: ESPN)

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