MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

Look, I watched the baseball game on Tuesday, and I, too, am delighted to say that, yes, it’s a very giddy time for anyone who roots for the Baltimore Orioles. But, please … let’s keep some perspective. Let’s not forget who we are.

We see silly things on social media, we know that, and we see silly and shortsighted notions as well. One of those notions being seen with more frequency has been coming from well-meaning but overeager Orioles fans, as spring training winds down just eight days shy of Opening Day.

After Tuesday’s thumping of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles are now 19-5-2, the top record in the Grapefruit League, which technically means nothing, but has been pretty exciting because of how they’ve arrived to this point – with the lights-out play by most of the Orioles’ heralded young prospects from what is, for the fourth season in a row, the No. 1 farm system in all of baseball.

Corner infielder Coby Mayo has an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of over 1.000, has knocked in 11 runs and has done well defensively, while second baseman Connor Norby is hitting over .300 with another home run yesterday.

In the outfield, Colton Cowser has an OPS of over 1.200, hitting .365 with five home runs, including one that traveled 462 feet on Tuesday, while Kyle Stowers was tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ electrifying Oneil Cruz for the Grapefruit League lead in home runs with seven, four of them coming off left handers

Heston Kjersted, on the other hand, hasn’t had a great spring numbers-wise, but, as he did last year during his regular-season callup, has shown tremendous power.

Meanwhile, back in the infield, Jordan Westburg, who reminds some of us a great deal of Bobby Grich, has had a solid spring and seems to be a lock to be on the Opening Day roster to play second and third, while Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball, has been hitting .300 and has done well playing second base as well as shortstop.

Holliday, who crushed another homer yesterday, has shown he’s ready for the big leagues. Whether he is on the Opening Day roster or not will be decided by the Orioles, but he’s certainly shown he’s going to be there soon enough.

Still, with all of this young talent spreading its wings, so to speak, silly notions are bound to follow. Which brings us back to the Orioles outfield.

I have more than once seen speculation on social media that due to the stockpile of major talent in the Orioles farm system. the Orioles’ starting outfielders for the past three years – left fielder Austin Hays, center fielder Cedric Mullins and right fielder Anthony Santander – could be in danger of being traded by the Orioles should they get off to slow starts to begin the season.

So while I understand the fans’ excitement surrounding the great potential of the young players in the Orioles system, what do you say we all just hold our horses here for a moment.

Trade Hays, Mullins and/or Santander just like that just for the sake of making room for today’s latest thing, even though the latest thing is not yet established in the big leagues?

This isn’t how Major League Baseball works, and it’s not how smart, conditioned and well-schooled baseball decision-makers, which the Orioles clearly have, run their teams if they expect to keep winning.

There is no hurry here; I repeat, there is no hurry. While I believe Westburg and Cowser are locks for the Opening Day roster, and that Holliday clearly seems ready to be, Mayo, Norby, Stowers, Kjerstad (or even Holliday) aren’t going anywhere. If they’re not in Baltimore next week, they’ll be safe in Triple A Norfolk, but before you know it, will be in Baltimore.

In the words of the great Annie Savoy, “It’s a long season, and you gotta trust it.”

They’ll all get their shots. They’ll all be in Baltimore before you know it, because they will all be needed at some point of those 162 games. So keep your shirt on, will ya?

The trick here – and it’s been so long, Orioles fans have forgotten the trick – is to use your rising young stars while they are still rising and young, which now-established vets Hays, Mullins and Santander still are.

Don’t be hasty to cast off these fellows. They’re at the heart of where the Orioles are, since with them as the starting outfield, the club has won 184 games in the past two seasons. These guys toiled through the very worst of times, and their talent and perseverance has helped lift the Orioles to the cusp of the very best of times.

They remain the present and the future, both of which are remarkably bright when one considers where Orioles baseball stood just four short years ago.

For that matter, so do Jorge Mateo, who is invaluable because of his speed and his defensive versatility, and Ramon Urias, who is just a solid pro and winner, which all contending teams need to have on their rosters.

The younger guys? They’ll be up soon enough. Their time is coming, but there’s no need to rush it when you already have young, proven commodities on hand at the big-league level, who had a big hand in bringing this winning to Baltimore to begin with.

Trades will eventually come, but you need a steady hand because sometimes a team can trade too quickly, such as when the Orioles traded Hall of Famer Frank Robinson one year too early to make room for baseball’s No. 2 prospect Don Baylor prior to the 1972 season.

The following offseason, the Orioles traded second baseman Dave Johnson to Atlanta to make the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball, the great Bobby Grich, the starter; and even though Johnson would hit 43 home runs for the Braves in 1973, that was a trade worth making.

Some of them work. Some of them don’t. Making room for Bobby Grich worked. Giving the bum’s rush to Frank Robinson, the man who taught the Orioles organization how to win, did not work, particularly one year before the designated hitter was made the rule in the American League.

So just relax, Orioles fans. Enjoy the show; enjoy the ride. Let general manager Mike Elias do the heavy lifting. He’s done a pretty fair job up to this point, right?

Or do we want to trade him, too?

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT