The Orioles’ first half was marked with significant disappointments. There were injuries galore, though with Wesley Wright’s removal from the 60-day disabled list and designation for assignment, only Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia remains on the DL.
Who were the most significant disappointments of the first half?
1) Bud Norris
Perhaps Norris wasn’t expected to duplicate his 15 wins from last season, but his 2-9 and 6.86 ERA in the first half was an abomination.
Norris will be a free agent this fall, and if he could have come close to replicating 2014’s stats, he could have gotten a three-year contract worth perhaps $40 million.
Now, he’ll be fortunate to get a one-year major league contract at half his current $8.8 million.
Things began going south after his first spring training start, which didn’t go well, and manager Buck Showalter suggested he needed some prodding.
Later in spring, he nearly was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire John Hirschbeck. His awful spring didn’t get any better once the regular season started and he became infected with bronchitis.
Norris’ rehab assignment went longer than expected, and eventually lost his place in the starting rotation.
He was responsible for one of the better Orioles quotes of the season. After a rehab outing at Norfolk, Norris was asked about his next move. “You tell me and I’ll let you know. This Showalter guy, he keeps all of his chess pieces close, so I have no idea,” he said.
2) Steve Pearce
One of last year’s biggest surprises is one of 2015’s biggest disappointments. Pearce hit 21 home runs last year and batted .293.
This year, he’s hitting just .228 with seven homers.
Pearce is another one of the Orioles’ seven possible free agents, and like Norris, he may be costing himself a multi-year contract.
Unlike Norris, he’s been healthy all season. His attitude and work ethic are outstanding, and he’s well-liked by his teammates. He just hasn’t produced the way the Orioles were hoping. For $3.7 million, the Orioles were expecting more.
3) Chris Tillman
The Orioles were expecting Tillman to continue as their clear No. 1 starter, but he had an awful first two months of the season.
He hasn’t lost since May, and while he’s won his last four decisions, Tillman is still 6-7 with a 5.40 ERA.
The best news for Tillman is that Matt Wieters is back, and no one knows Tillman like Wieters. In the six Tillman starts that Wieters has caught, he’s struck out 22 and walked seven, and hasn’t lost any.
Ryan Lavarnway caught him three times, and Tillman walked 11 and struck out six.
Talk of an extension has ceased, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Tillman continued trending up in the second half.
4) Alejandro De Aza
There was some chatter last fall that the Orioles weren’t going to tender De Aza a contract. In the end, they did, and they regret it.
De Aza became just the second Oriole to take the team to arbitration in Dan Duquette’s four years, and he lost, but ended up with $5 million.
He batted just .214 in 30 games before he was designated for assignment and eventually traded to Boston for minor league pitcher Joe Gunkel.
The Red Sox are paying $1 million of the $3 million owed, leaving the Orioles to pay $2 million.
While De Aza is hitting .323 in 31 games for the Red Sox, there didn’t seem to be any room for him with the Orioles.
5) Everth Cabrera
When Cabrera was signed in February, the move was heralded as insurance in case of injuries. In fact, three infielders, Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop, all spent time on the disabled list, and Cabrera was gone before all were back.
There was no demand for Cabrera, who had criminal charges in California pending yet the Orioles signed him for $2.4 million.
Cabrera made three errors in 27 games at shortstop when Hardy was hurt. He wasn’t awful in the field, but his bat was nonexistent, hitting just .208 with two extra-base hits in 29 games.
He didn’t get much of a chance to show off his speed and had just two stolen bases.
Two years ago, Cabrera was somehow a National League All-Star. A day after the All-Star Game and more than a month after his release, he’s still looking for work.
DISHONORABLE MENTION: David Lough, T.J. McFarland
Lough is one of the fastest baserunners on the team, but has managed to be thrown out in four of his five stolen base attempts. He hit a dramatic homer against Boston in April, but little else.
McFarland has a 2.70 ERA yet has averaged more than two baserunners an inning. The Orioles still have high hopes for him.