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Orioles Need A Game Plan For '22

Clock at Orioles Park at Camden Yards.
Clock at Orioles Park at Camden Yards. Photo by Michelle via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

With baseball’s All-Star Game now safely in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look to the Orioles’ future, to what 2022 will look like around Camden Yards in April.

What’s that, you say? There’s still two more months to go in the 2021 season and there’s plenty of winning baseball to be played?

Yes, those are true statements in the same way that any of us could hit the lottery or win an Oscar. Anything is possible, but some things just aren’t bloody likely.

Truth is, the Birds will have to scramble to avoid a third 100-loss season in the past four years.

At this point, the best that will come out of this season is another top-five draft pick in the amateur draft next year who, combined with other prospects, might be part of a promising future, words that don’t have to be oxymoronic for Baltimore baseball fans.

There might be reasons for folks to come to Oriole Park the rest of the way this year provided the front office is willing to make a few moves.

Admittedly, some of these may be perceived as window dressing, but this club needs as many face-saving steps as possible to let the long-suffering fans know that someone is listening.

In the immediate, Orioles general manager Mike Elias needs to declare in the strongest possible terms that the team will not deal Trey Mancini before next week’s trade deadline.

Mancini finished second in last week’s Home Run Derby, but the story of his return to baseball from colon cancer was a winner during the All-Star Break.

A trade could bring back some prospects, but Mancini has earned the right to stay and be part of a bright Orioles future, after slogging through so much misery, professional and personal. And God bless him, Mancini says he wants to stay.

The club should also ensure that Brandon Hyde remains as manager into 2022 and beyond. Hyde, who came here in 2019, has yet to sniff a winning record, but that’s not his fault.

The truth is, the Orioles’ roster has been so horrid during Hyde’s tenure that it’s been impossible to assess his acumen as a leader. Elias should give him through the 2023 season to show what he can do and give him some players to do it with.

That brings us to the next step. The Orioles’ 2021 payroll of $58 million is third-lowest among the 30 Major League teams. Even if you doubled it, it would still be almost $15 million below the average of $130 million.

In other words, it’s high time the front office went out and signed some talent, starting preferably with starting pitching to surround ace John Means.

And speaking of the front office, with Camden Yards about to turn 30 years old next year, John Angelos, the Orioles’ chairman and CEO, should tear up the two-year lease extension he signed earlier this year and commit this team to at least a 30-year stay here.

After all they’ve endured the past few decades, Baltimore baseball fans deserve a future with a club committed to both consistent improvement and to being here in the long term for them to see it happen.

And that’s how I see it for this week.

Get in touch:

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @SportsAtLarge

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.