Last year Matt Wieters came up to the big leagues and every one held their breath. They held their breath in anticipation for the one player that was going to single-handily save Baltimore baseball. Matt Wieters facts abounded, national sports writers called him “Switch-hitting Jesus” and Baltimore put the weight of its collected hopes on the broad shoulders of a young catcher. he struggled at first last year, but that was normal we all said. He then caught serious fire at the end of the 2009 campaign and we all exhaled a bit.
Virtually everyone expected Wieters to pick up right where he left off, but he hasn’t. Right now the young catcher (and once and future king of Baltimore sports) is batting .262 with a .693 OPS; he hasn’t hit a homerun since May 5 which was also the date of his last RBI. Wieters is mired in a tough stretch of late. Over his last nine games Wieters is batting only .229 with an atrocious .518 OPS, he has no extra-base hits and has struck out eight times. He has been taking bad at-bats, his swing has looked long and it just doesn’t seem like he is seeing the ball well right now.
the question needs to be asked: Is this just a slump, or should we be concerned by Wieters performance in year two?
Everyone gave Wieters a free pass when he struggled in the majors last year. The learning curve can be very steep for even the brightest talents, combine that with the need to learn and lead a young pitching staff people understood. But this year was supposed to be different, this was the year that is was “Matt’s team” and so far he is not playing like the golden child he was promised to be. Wieters is going through a complete power outage right now, he has not had an extra-base hit since May 8 and even the outs seem to be mostly weak ground balls.
What does this all mean? Does Wieters need more time off? Shoudl we take a closer look at Terry Crowley and what he is doing with these young hitters? Is this just baseball? Or, shudder to think, maybe Matt Wieters is not “Switch-hitting Jesus”?
That last one would be the hardest to swallow. Baltimore has a lot of hope wrapped up in this one guy, while he wouldn’t be the first would-be superstar to never live up to his potential in the history of major league baseball, to have him be some sort of lesser-God would be a really tough pill to swallow for this town.
Wieters had a day off yesterday while the Orioles went on to easily defeat the Nationals in DC 5-3. Helped out by the Orioles other struggling youngster Adam Jones who launched an opposite field two-run homer in the second inning. Jones would leave the game early with cramping in his legs, both he and Wieters are back in the lineup today.
Jones has been slowly and quietly coming around. He is riding an eight-game hit-streak and has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 batting .340 over that time. Hopefully that authoritative homer yesterday is a spark he needs to get back to where we all know he should be. And hopefully a day off for Wieters, nursing a bruised knee from a foul ball, will give him a little new life as well. I don’t know if the Orioles will ever really dig themselves out of the whole they have played themselves into, but I do know that if they are to make any attempt at it then Jones and Wieters need to start playing like the players we all thought they would be.
The seat underneath Dave Trembley is very hot at the moment, blowing two easily winnable games against the Indians and Royals will do that to you. The Orioles have today’s game against the Nats and the series finale tomorrow; then comes the dreaded off-day. People will say that this weekend’s games should not mean a thing in the long run. Overall, the team has played poorly and someone should be held accountable and that man is usually the manager. I wrote a month ago fully expecting Dave Trembley to be fired after that disastrous west-coast road-trip but the the Orioles swept the Red Sox. Now, if you think that didn’t have anything to do with Trembley staying on you are kidding yourself. What boggles my mind is how hitting coach Terry Crowley continues to stay on. I don’t have anything against the guy at all and have usually defended him when his name has come up in sacking talks but with so many good young hitters struggling at the same time you have to start looking in Crowley’s direction.
If the Orioles win the Nationals series or even sweep them I still think there are some managerial/ staff moves made on Monday. If the Orioles lose the series, I would guarantee it.