Buck Showalter took over a dreadful 32-73 team and managed them to a 34-23 record down the stretch last season, creating some optimism among Orioles fans for the first time in a long time.
So much for that.
This season the Orioles have the AL’s worst record at 42-63, which is a .400 winning percentage that ranks as the team’s second-worst during the past 10 years, and as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun writes “the honeymoon with Showalter seems to be over now, with some fans routinely criticizing Showalter’s lineup and bullpen decisions.”
That’s what happens when raised expectations are met with the league’s worst record, but Showalter has now managed exactly one full season in Baltimore and his 76-86 record would be the team’s best since 2004. He’s not a miracle-worker, but for the Orioles a .469 winning percentage is pretty close and Connolly is full of praise while noting that Showalter has “had to count on guys who probably shouldn’t be in the majors” and “has been handcuffed by the lack of talent on the 25-man roster.”
Reading between the lines, that sure seems to suggest that Orioles fans should be reconsidering the length of their honeymoon with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.
The Brewers reportedly signed third baseman Mike Moustakas to a one-year, $10 million contract on Sunday. While the deal is not yet official, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers plan to give Moustakas a look at second base during spring training. If all goes well, he will be the primary second baseman and Travis Shaw will stay at third base.
The initial thought was that Moustakas would simply take over at third base for the more versatile Shaw. Moustakas has spent 8,035 of his career defensive innings at third base, 35 innings at first base, and none at second. In fact, he has never played second base as a pro player. Shaw, meanwhile, has spent 268 of his 4,073 1/3 defensive innings in the majors at second base and played there as recently as October.
This is certainly an interesting wrinkle to signing Moustakas, who is a decent third baseman. He was victimized by another slow free agent market, not signing until March last year on a $6.5 million deal with a $15 million mutual option for this season. That option was declined, obviously, and he ended up signing for $5 million cheaper here in February as the Brewers waited him out. Notably, Moustakas did not have qualifying offer compensation attached to him this time around.
Last season, between the Royals and Brewers, the 30-year-old Moustakas hit .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 635 plate appearances.