Allegany Communications Sports
They finally went through with it, the Orioles did. On Monday afternoon they traded Trey Mancini to the Houston Astros in a three-team deal that landed Baltimore two Class A pitching prospects.
THE GOOD: The Orioles, who have the top-rated minor-league system in baseball, still need more organizational pitching depth and, in time, the two pitchers they received, top-10 prospects in the Houston and Tampa Bay organizations, should provide that. But don’t expect to hear about either one of them anytime soon. Which is why, as a service to witness protection, I will not be using their names here.
Okay, they are right-hander Chayce McDermott, Houston’s sixth-ranked prospect according to Baseball America, and right-hander Seth Johnson, who ranked as Tampa Bay’s No. 9 prospect.
As for Mancini, he’s going to a team that could very well win the World Series this season; and given the dimensions of his new home ballpark, he will likely begin to hit a lot more home runs for the remainder of this, his free-agent year.
On top of everything else, he no longer has to answer to or worry about the trade speculation he’s lived with for the past two-plus seasons, which is why one sensed in watching his media session on Monday that he is happy and relieved by that and is poised to move on.
And he’ll do just fine, thank you. Just watch.
THE BAD: Trey Mancini, the face of the franchise is gone. For now. He’s a free agent at the end of the year, so …
Nobody wanted to see Mancini traded, beginning with Mancini and his Orioles teammates. Orioles fans love him, Baltimore loves him, everybody loves him. And who couldn’t with all he’s been through and has fought through the past three years; and who couldn’t in light of his kindness and good grace as well as his track record of being one heck of a fine ballplayer, but an even better person?
THE PRACTICAL: It had to be done, because it was going to be done.
The Orioles were not going to pay him yet, for starters, though general manager Mike Elias did say on Monday he is hopeful their paths will cross during the free-agent period.
While that is a nice thought as a parting gift, don’t hold your breath. Mancini’s age (30 going on 31) and his lack of a solid defensive position just doesn’t fit with what the Orioles are doing here. And let’s be frank (semi-spoiler alert), he’s not the type of mega-player that you make an exception for in your rebuild template.
The truth is, the Orioles, despite their surprisingly good season so far, still have too much to learn about their younger players – the younger players on the big-league roster and the younger players in the minor leagues who are ready to have their opportunity at the big-league level.
The Orioles have to find out about these players. It is what this rebuild has been about from the beginning. They know about Trey Mancini.
In some small respects (see semi-spoiler alert teaser) this trade is remindful of the Orioles trading Frank Robinson to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1972, even though, God love him, on his best day Trey Mancini is no Frank Robinson. Only Frank Robinson was Frank Robinson.
That the Orioles trade of Robinson was a mistake in retrospect, because nobody knew the designated hitter rule would go into effect in 1973, the Orioles had to make room for their Triple-A two-time MVP Don Baylor, because in baseball, even in those days, every player is on a clock.
It’s impossible to know what will happen next, as the Major League trade deadline strikes at 6 p.m. today. The feeling here is the Orioles are not through making trades that fans are not going to like or care for – most definitely in the short term – because of the success this young, exciting club has provided this season.
They really are a lot of fun to watch. They pitch, they play defense, they have timely hitting, they play hard through the final out every night and every day, and for that we credit Manager Brandon Hyde.
Yet going into this, we were warned: Don’t get too attached.
Well, because these young Orioles tricked us and forced us to become attached, the day of reckoning is today, and the moment of reckoning is 6 o’clock.
So be prepared to be ticked, angry, whatever; but mostly sad, because we’ve grown to really like these guys.
Then be prepared to move on.
In time, we’ll get over it.
Go the distance.
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] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT