Luke Scott made a potentially troubling appearance on the Home Plate station on XM radio last night. I have stated before that I believe the current roster construction is going to leave a few players quite unhappy with their role. Luke Scott had never been shy about voicing his opinions, and he appears to be the first one speaking out. Luke first spoke about the recent restriction on firearms in the locker room. I think this picture will explain his stance:
Luke has never been shy on his thoughts on firearms, or about his faith. We don’t cover these sort of topics on here because they aren’t baseball related and they aren’t THAT funny. Luke’s comments about the Orioles were much more concerning. Luke made it known once again that he is not happy at all as a primary DH. Luke made similar comments before the start of last season, but this year he seemed much more adamant. Luke also says that last year the Orioles promised him that he would still get half of his at bats as an outfielder. That obviously did not happen and he did not seem very happy about it. Luke wants to play the outfield and doesn’t see himself as a defensive liability. Well Luke, that’s because you aren’t.
Advanced defensive metrics such as UZR will tell you that Luke is an average to slightly above average defensive corner outfielder for his career. The Orioles have a cluttered outfield situation right now and it is going to be next to impossible to get him much playing time in the outfield without injuries. He appears to be 5th on the depth chart as it currently stands with Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis slated to get the lions share of the playing time. The Orioles had a very brief experiment of playing Luke at first base last season where he did not embarrass himself in my opinion. It seemed worth a longer tryout to me as it seemed that could be the best way to solve this situation. Luke has played first base before in his college days and briefly in the minor leagues, it is not a completely foreign position to him and let’s also not pretend it is an extremely difficult position to play in general. I think with a little experience there it would have been very likely that Luke could have been a more valuable first baseman than Garrett Atkins will be, by a good margin. Atkins defensive ability there is certainly not established and while he used to be able to hit, he has real potential to be a 4.5 million dollar disaster at the plate.
For me, the ideal situation would have been to go into the season with Luke as the starting first baseman with Brandon Snyder waiting for the call if he falters. With Scott at first, that would free up left field for more playing time for Felix Pie who proved he deserved in the second half of ’09. This would put our best defensive outfielder (Pie) on the field and relegate our worst defensive outfielder (Reimold) to the DH role. Everyone wins in this situation, our best players are on the field and Luke is happy playing defense (He did say he was open to playing first regularly). As it currently stands, Luke will probably be treated a lot like he was last year, DH vs right handers and a lot of sitting vs lefties. Luke was also our best hitter vs left handed pitching last year despite his platoon reputation and he splits aren’t as drastic as you would think for his career. Sure, he is streaky and he isn’t a superstar, but Luke is a solid corner outfielder and probably deserves a better fate than the Orioles have planned for him. At this point, it seems obvious they intend to let him try to establish some value with a good start and then move him somewhere where he has a better opportunity, and I hope for his sake that is the plan.
This is not a problem that will be uncommon for this years team with reasonable health. There doesn’t seem to be adequate playing time for Scott, Wigginton, or Pie in what appears to be the teams roster/lineup plans. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more events like this occurring in the near future, stay tuned for more pissed off O’s…