When Dexter Fowler denied the Orioles’ request to become their everyday right fielder and leadoff man, most fans were upset, and rightfully so. Fowler’s actions seemed to do the team and fans dirty by getting our hopes up only to be left disappointed and searching for the next best guy to fill those roles. Names like Austin Jackson and Alex Rios were tossed around, none of which bring the seemingly perfect fit to the O’s lineup like Fowler would have done. But, alas, what’s done and done, and the Orioles needed to move on.
So they signed Pedro Alvarez?
Here is a name that surfaced as a possible alternative if the Chris Davis saga had not ended in the Orioles’ favor. If you’re not familiar, let me summarize. Alvarez is a left handed power bat with a subpar average at the plate. He went deep 27 times last year, all batting anywhere from 5th to 9th in the lineup (he started a few games in the two hole as well). His On Base Percentage was not shabby at .329 and his career OBP sits above .300 (*golf clap*). He plays primarily at 1B with some time on the hot corner, but no outfield experience at all. Like, not even one game at the major league level.
The question then becomes: What about Pedro Alvarez did the Orioles see to decide that he was the best option to make up for missing out on Dexter Fowler?
A theory that makes the most sense is that Buck and the O’s agreed that Mark Trumbo is a better option in RF than anybody left on the market or available via trade. Instead of giving up what few prospects they have and make a deal with a team willing to give up a player who most likely would not bring to the table what Fowler would have, the Orioles are playing their cards and making a bet. By putting Trumbo in RF, Showalter will most likely put Alvarez at the DH position as a permanent role (or, at least, unless Davis needs a day off from playing first). We are almost guaranteed to see a carousel of players seeing playing time in the corner outfield positions, including Nolan Reimold and Hyun Soo Kim, but it seems more than likely that in order to get the most bang for their buck, a lineup including Alvarez, Trumbo, and Big Money Davis will become the almost everyday norm.
What about a leadoff hitter? That will be interesting to see unfold as the well-warranted outcry from fans is that Manny deserves and needs to be in the heart of the lineup. He proved his value as one of the biggest threats at the plate in Major League Baseball last year, and keeping him in a leadoff role would do no one any favors. Buck will most likely be Buck and rotate players in and out of the leadoff spot, at least until somebody makes themselves worthy enough to nail it down.
Overall, the move solidifies one underlying thought- the Orioles need to score big runs on a consistent basis in order to win games this season. After a year of disappointment from their starting rotation, and the loss of Chen, Baltimore is looking to slug it out, gain a lead, and let the lights out bullpen come in to do the dirty work in the later innings. Will it work? If it is any indication, the Orioles scored 713 runs last year without Trumbo and Alvarez, good for seventh best in the American League (although, ironically, still 4th in the AL East, only above the Rays, who play 81 games at the very spacious Tropicana Field). As long as they can make up in runs what they will lack in defense by putting Trumbo out in RF, a one year deal to sign Pedro Alvarez is not as bad as it may initially seem.
As always, Let’s Go O’s!