Monday, May 10, 2010

Corey Patterson

Just in case you haven't been paying attention, the Orioles are bad at scoring runs.  Their 107 runs scored (3.34 runs/game) rank ahead of only the lowly Astros, Mariners and Indians, while their .305 team on-base percentage bests only the Astros.  Four players are pulling their weight offensively: Ty Wigginton (a shocking 169 OPS+), Nick Markakis (131), Matt Wieters (110), and Miguel Tejada (109).  The other regulars rank somewhere from really bad (Reimold, 76) to awful (Luke Scott, 72, and Adam Jones, 65) to execrable (Garrett Atkins, 57, and Cesar Izuturis, 43).  Unsurprisingly, Andy MacPhail isn't happy, and changes might be on the way.

There has been a strong movement over at the Sun blog and on Twitter to bring up Corey Patterson.  After all, he's hitting .367 in Norfolk, and the O's could sure use some offense, right?  The problem, of course, is that Corey Patterson can't provide any offense.  In his career, he has a .290 OBP.  Bad as he has been, Nolan Reimold has a .304 OBP this season, and even Adam Jones isn't that much lower (.257).  Yes, Patterson plays a good defensive outfield, and thus he makes more sense as a fourth outfielder than Lou Montanez; we all saw his center field "skills" on display in New York last week.  But the notion that Patterson will fix what ails the O's offense is misguided at best and delusional at worst.

Fortunately, Jeff Zrebiec clarified his stance today (emphasis mine):
I think he’d be a good addition to the Orioles’ bench because of his defensive abilities and what he brings with his speed/bunting ability, etc. But all the talk about Patterson coming up and being a huge part of an offensive turnaround is a little much. Patterson has been in six different organizations since 2005, and this is his second go-around with the Orioles. He is a career .252 hitter with a career .290 on-base percentage.
The impetus for all this backseat general managing was an article that appeared last week in which Andy MacPhail put the O's hitters "on notice."  I think (hope) that MacPhail knows there really isn't anyone better in Norfolk; Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder have both struggled this spring, and we just discussed the (de)merits of Corey Patterson.  Rather, MacPhail is rightly placing the emphasis on performance.  Reimold and Jones are likely better hitters than they have shown so far this season, but with no one pushing them from behind, they haven't lost any playing time.  If bringing up Corey Patterson and sending either Reimold and/or Jones to AAA for some low pressure at-bats is what the club thinks is best for their long-term development, do it. Just so long as we're clear that Corey Patterson isn't going to help the O's win any more games in 2010 than either of those guys.  No matter what the stated goal was prior to the season, the Orioles have to be squarely focused on getting Reimold and Jones back on track to be valuable contributors for the future.

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