With the All-Star game rapidly approaching, and the season nearly halfway over, I think it’s safe to conclude that thus far, 2011 has been a disappointment. If you’re a fellow Orioles diehard, then you know all too well that the Os seem to excel at concocting nuanced definitions of the word.
Five years ago, they couldn’t win because they didn’t have the right players in their system and made ill-advised free agent signings. Remember Jamie Walker? Three years ago, they did have some talented young players, but they weren’t quite ready for the spotlight. Now that they finally do seem to have a quorum of talented young players, they seem not be able to avoid injuries, or total talent regression.
The inconsistency of the starting pitching, injuries, and a lack of timely hitting have all contributed to a subpar performance for the 2011 team. Still, there are some signs of hope. JJ Hardy has demonstrated himself to be an excellent shortstop, maybe the best in the American League so far this year. Adam Jones is having a big season, and seems to have greatly improved his approach and strike zone discipline.
Although it’s tempting to only look at the negatives, the question that most interests me is this: how can we get better? How can the Orioles take what they’ve learned so far this year, process it, and come up with a roadmap that means the future will be better? To my mind, failure is only worthless if you don’t learn anything from it. Based on what we’ve seen so far this season, here are 3 things that I think the Orioles MUST do, to avoid sacrificing the glacial progress they’ve been able to realize over the past couple of years.