After 115 losses, Orioles enter offseason of uncertainty
BALTIMORE (AP) — A season filled with losses and farewells ended for the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday with an informal sendoff for five-time All-Star Adam Jones, another veteran who seemingly has no place on a rebuilding team in the process of a major reboot.
Although the endless string of defeats has mercifully ended, the goodbyes will likely extend into the offseason.
“Now that the season is over,” Jones said, “the next chapter starts.”
The 33-year-old was talking about his status as a pending free agent, but the sentiment applies to the Orioles.
The status of manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette remains up in the air, and the rookie-filled roster that struggled through September is sure to change.
Halfway into the worst season in Orioles history, Duquette began the overhaul by trading Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach for 15 minor league prospects and International signing bonus slot money.
A team-record 15 players made their major league debut this season, and all that inexperience was one of many reasons why Baltimore finished 47-115, 61 games behind AL East champion Boston.
There’s no telling when the rebuild will begin to yield victories.
“You don’t put a timetable on it. You try to do it as fast as you can,” Showalter said. “But you’ve got to do it with your nose down, and grind each day. You might be surprised where you stand when those days are behind you.”
Some things to know about the Orioles as they head into an important offseason:
NEVER SAW IT COMING
Perhaps the most depressing aspect of the season is that the Orioles thought they would be contenders.
The addition of starters Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner, along with a power-laden lineup led by Machado and Schoop, led to unfulfilled optimism.
Baltimore opened 5-14 and was 8-20 by the end of April.
“We got on a losing roll and it kind of snowballed,” pitcher Dylan Bundy said. “Then May came and it wasn’t any better. Around the First of May I realized it wasn’t going to be the year we thought it was, the year we hoped for or the year we planned for in the spring.”
DAVIS A DUD
First baseman Chris Davis, like the Orioles, had a historically awful season.
He batted .168, worst average by a qualifier in major league history, and struck out 192 times in 128 games.
The former slugger is in the midst of a $161 contract that extends through 2022. That makes him tough to trade and leaves the Orioles little option but to hope he finds his stroke.
The Astros won the World Series last year after going through a similar rebuild. The key, says Astros manager A.J. Hinch, is that you can’t rush it.
“Patience is always key,” Hinch said. “Finding great players is paramount, and continuing to form their plan, develop their plan and execute it.
“I know what it feels like when it works, and it’s worth it. But it can reach some tough moments while you’re trying to evaluate players, while you’re trying to rebuild it.”
RAY OF HOPE
Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph watched a bunch of rookies come up from the minors and was encouraged by their potential.
“There’s some young talent in this clubhouse, and if you get everybody on the same page and start working towards our specific goal you can grow a nice little franchise here with the talent that we have,” Joseph said.
Example: Rookie right-hander David Hess went 3-10, but in his final outing he pitched seven innings of three-hit ball against Houston.
“I think the experience in itself goes a really long way,” Hess said. “You always hear coming up that you can’t really mimic the big leagues at any other level. That definitely proved true.”
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