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Insider

Orioles' outfield woes get worse

5/12/2010

For those of you waiting on Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold to start playing well, the team made a transaction Wednesday that sums things up better than I ever could: The Orioles demoted him to Triple-A Norfolk to call up ... Corey Patterson!

Look, I've made silly predictions on Patterson in the past, and I won't be doing so here. Patterson was hitting .368 for the Tides with three stolen bases and a .910 OPS. He's still only 30 years old. Back in 2004, he hit 24 home runs and stole 32 bases for the Chicago Cubs. As recently as 2007, Patterson stole 37 bases and hit a good-enough .269. Ugh ... won't ... get ... fooled ... ever ... again. Enough!

Ignore Patterson in fantasy. The fact he's slated to lead off Wednesday night, when he was never a particularly good leadoff hitter (career .290 OBP!) speaks volumes about the options the Orioles have these days. You don't want Patterson.

Let's focus on the fact the Orioles' outfield, other than the somewhat disappointing Nick Markakis, hasn't produced. Baltimore's left fielders have the worst OPS in the AL. The center fielders, thanks mainly to Adam Jones, have a .593 OPS, with 12 runs scored. Markakis seems to have lost all of his power and speed, but with a .304 batting average and .853 OPS, he's the Albert Pujols of this outfield. He's certainly worth owning, but trade for him with care. He's not the 2008 version.

Reimold is owned in 36.7 percent of ESPN 10-team standard mixed leagues, a whopping total considering he's hitting .205 with only two home runs. Reimold probably isn't 100 percent after offseason surgery on a torn Achilles tendon, so I'm a bit surprised the team didn't place him on the disabled list weeks ago, but there's no telling when he regains his health. I wrote in an April 20 blog about Orioles outfielders that Reimold was unownable for standard leagues. He did raise his batting average 40 points from that day, but watch him hit, he's not the same guy who burst on the scene last year. Move on. Among the outfielders owned in fewer than 10 percent of leagues who are more appealing are Fred Lewis, Nate Schierholtz, Angel Pagan, Jonny Gomes and Brennan Boesch.

Jones is a far tougher guy to give up on. I personally didn't draft him in any leagues, thinking his status as a top-20 outfielder was a bit generous, but nobody expected this. Remember, Jones was awful in the second half of 2009, after a scorching first two months of .344 batting average, 11 home runs and 36 RBIs landed him an All-Star spot. After that, he did very little.

Jones is hitting .230 with three home runs and one stolen base, and the most disconcerting number is the four walks -- in 32 games! -- against 29 strikeouts. I don't think Jones needs to go to the minor leagues, but something clearly is wrong. He's owned in 89.7 percent of leagues and dropping; a week ago he was owned in 96.1 percent of leagues. Is it possible Jones is hurt as well? He was scratched from a recent game with a hip strain. I can't say I'd cut him -- bench him, yes -- in a 10-team league, but then again, among the outfielders owned in 50-80 percent of leagues I like more are Josh Willingham, Kosuke Fukudome, Hunter Pence, J.D. Drew and Cody Ross.