The Baltimore Orioles, losers of 15 of their past 20 games, might buy at the trade deadline. They might sell. Management doesn’t really know what to make of this team, and Friday night’s heart-breaking loss to the Tampa Bay Rays will not make the decision approaching the trade deadline any easier.
One thing is clear, however.
Jimmy Paredes needs to be in the lineup every single day for the rest of the year. There has been some chatter that the Orioles should try and sell high on Paredes, but with the team struggling, it may be a more prescient move to hold onto him and determine if he is more than a flash in the pan.
Paredes has been a revelation in 74 games this year. In what is effectively his first real season in the Major Leagues at the age of 26, Paredes has a .289/.320/.454 line with 10 home runs and 39 RBIs. For a time, he was batting near .500 with RISP, although a recent mini-slump has dinged that number down to .368.
Paredes plays the game with a wild, unbridled passion, something that is much needed on an Orioles team that has looked mostly listless and lethargic since the season began coming off the rails at the end of June. Yes, he swings at too many first pitches and has drawn only 14 walks this season, but you can accept that hacking approach from a hitter who is batting .417 in the 48 at-bats in which he has put the first pitch into play. Paredes does chase quite a bit, and if he really is going to be an every day player at this level that will need to change.
If the Orioles so desire, they control the rights to Paredes through the 2020 season. What remains to be seen is whether or not he is the type of hitter a team can commit to penciling into the lineup day in and day out. The Orioles have still been using Paredes mostly in a platoon role. The switch hitter is batting .300 against right-handers, but just .227 against left-handers. As the 2015 edition of the team continues to fade, and fast, it’s time to see if Paredes is really able to handle more than just a platoon role.
Paredes has struggled in the month of July, batting just .186 with only two extra base hits in 59 at-bats. He went through a stretch like this in early May before finishing that month with a .291 average and three home runs. Is the July swoon just a slump, or have American League pitchers finally gotten wise to Paredes? That is something the Orioles need to find out.
With the outfield situation still up in the air, the Orioles should also consider giving Paredes a chance in the field. For a team that gave Delmon Young far too many chances to put on a fielding glove this year, there is no reason not to at least allow Paredes to try his hand at defense (For future reference, any team that allows Delmon Young to set foot in right field, let alone start 37 games there, should not expect to contend for the postseason). There is no denying the fact that he is raw defensively, but his athleticism, combined with good coaching should turn him into a more than serviceable outfielder.
Jimmy Paredes can be part of the plan for the 2016 Baltimore Orioles, but to what extent remains to be seen. It is far too early to write him in as an every day starter next year, but the Orioles have 57 games left this year to find out. For the Orioles to really grasp what they have on their hands in Jimmy Paredes, he needs to be in the lineup for as many of those 57 games as possible. If Paredes proves he can be an every day starter in 2016, great. If not, well, now is the time to find out.