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Thin ranks, fallow farm system mean sad ending

By Staff | Jul 21, 2017

Where have all the players gone? Does the minor league system have even one player at Norfolk or Bowie?

A starting pitching rotation of Wade Miley, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman and Dylan Bundy?

A middle relief corps that has been tried and found wanting. About 10 pitchers have worn thin the transactions wire between Norfolk and Camden Yards . . . and none of them can get people out at the big league level.

Without J.J. Hardy (a .215 hitter), there is no shortstop, unless Jonathan Schoop moves there and opens second base to another player best suited for the Norfolk Tides or Bowie Baysox.

Having statistic-barren seasons are Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Chris Davis, Hyun Soo Kim, Welington Castillo, Darren ODay and Mark Trumbo. Having seasons less than they achieved in 2016 are Adam Jones, Brad Brach and Mychal Givens.

There was a 20-game stretch of mostly futility where the Baltimore pitchers surrendered at least five runs per game.

The Orioles can’t make a trade of any significance because they have no prospects at the Class AAA level. Even Pedro Alvarez, who clubbed more than 20 homers in Baltimore last season, is hitting about .229 with the Tides.

No contender in either league has to frown night after night like Baltimore when Miley, Gausman, Jimenez, Tillman and Bundy go out to tackle the opposition. Can Baltimore acquire a starting pitcher with any chance of winning two out of three starts when trade partners want decent prospects in return?

Without Trey Mancini and Schoop, the Orioles couldn’t have found an All-Star even if the rule calls for at least one for every team.

Pennant and wild card contenders such as Boston and New York can acquire help because their minor league systems have players trade pardners will accept.

With their pitching woes, how do the Orioles even get back to the .500 mark? Will that figure be accomplished with the likes of Alec Asher, Tyler Wilson, Gabriel Ynoa, Daniel Alvarez, Logan Verrette, Jason Aquino, Vidal Nuno, Jimmy Yacabonis, Jason Wheeler, Stephan Crichton, Richard Bleier and Miguel Castro?

Machado could become productive. So could Davis. If Castillo can stay healthy, his statistics could also become useful.

But with Ruben Tejada at shortstop, Joey Rickard being used against left-handers and utility players like Johnny Giavotella and here today-gone tomorrow Paul Janish even a third-place finish in the division seems the hope of an eternal optimist who believes in the return of John Lowenstein, Ken Singleton and Cal Ripken, Jr. from 1979.

Orioles magic? Buckle up? Ubaldo the Bad? Wade the Wonderful? A third win for Tillman by September 30?

Find even one serviceable player at Norfolk.

The days of summer they fade away. And Baltimore still has the worst team ERA in all of the major leagues.

No ninth-inning comebacks at our “big old ball park,” Chuck Thompson. A school bus may be yellow and Miss Agnes may still be at war . . . but the beer ain’t so cold in the Oriole clubhouse after another 7-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics.