Commentary

The Orioles' perception problem

While many dwell on their pitching, that's not Baltimore's biggest issue

Updated: June 16, 2011, 12:37 PM ET
By Jay Jaffe | Baseball Prospectus
Brian MatuszJeff Moffett/Icon SMIBy focusing on Brian Matusz's struggles, many folks are ignoring the Orioles' biggest problem.

The Orioles' collection of high-upside young starters -- Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, and Chris Tillman -- was supposed to be the team's ticket out of irrelevance, the prescription to help the once-model franchise end a humiliating streak of 13 consecutive losing seasons. Yet several recent headlines suggest a staff going to seed.

Matusz, the most established of the group, left his latest start after retiring only four of 13 hitters, with his average velocity down as much as 4 mph. Britton, whose arrival in the majors was accelerated by Matusz's two-month absence due to an intercostal strain, will skip a turn in an effort to limit his workload, conjuring images of the Yankees' futile machinations involving Joba Chamberlain. Finally, the club announced that pitching coach Mark Connor had resigned due to personal reasons, with bullpen coach Rick Adair taking over. Collectively, these stories paint a picture of an organization struggling mightily to develop young pitchers as the team fumbles along below .500 (30-35) and in last place in the AL East. But pitching isn't what's keeping the Orioles down.