Managers love the quote, "Baseball games are won with pitching and defense." While that may be true, a team can't win without scoring some runs, especially in the American League East. During the current eight-game losing streak, the Orioles have scored just 2.5 runs per game, a dismal fact considering the upgrades made to the middle of the order in the offseason.
By the way, of the three homers hit by the Orioles in Monday's game against the Twins, none came from the middle of the order.
I believe in players' track records. You can usually look at career numbers and have a good idea where a player will be at the end of the season regardless of streaks. According to the numbers, this year's lineup is underachieving, especially in the three, four, and five spots.
Vladimir Guerrero alone has 10 seasons with 100-plus RBIs in his career. Mark Reynolds hit 32 home runs last year in what was considered an off year. Derrek Lee knows why he was brought to Baltimore: to drive in runs.
I sat down with Lee at Camden Yards on Monday. You can catch the full interview Wednesday on "The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report" on MASN at 5:30 p.m.
Lee believes the right pieces are in place and the offensive issues are not for lack of ability.
"You look at that first week and I think that was an indication about this lineup," said Lee. "That's what we are capable of - getting the timely hits when we need them. I think right now we are missing that timely hit. Maybe a big double, give our pitchers some breathing room. It's going to happen. Too many guys in this lineup have track records and I can't wait until the day when we all start clicking. "
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail probably can't wait either. Lack of power and run production was supposedly a major hole filled this offseason. MacPhail didn't acquire heavy hitters like Lee, Guerrero and Reynolds because he needed singles hitters. The lack of a big bopper has been the Orioles Achilles heel for several seasons.
Theoretically, based on last year's statistics, the addition of Lee, Guerrero and Reynolds should equate to 80 additional home runs and 280 additional RBIs for the Orioles this season. Over the past eight games, the trio has put up goose eggs in the home run department and has knocked in just three runs. That's just a tad bit off pace.
Lee is taking responsibility.
"I pride myself on driving in runs, hitting balls out of the ballpark, being on base for the guys behind me," he said. "Obviously I haven't done that yet, but it's going to happen. I've been through it, it's a long season. You always want it now, you want it yesterday, but you have to be patient, continue to work and not get frustrated."
Do you agree with Lee? Do you have faith that the O's who make up the middle of the lineup will produce?