The Moonshot: Adley Rutschman, woeful Tigers and Camden Yards wall speaks

Baltimore Orioles, MLB

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The FanSided MLB team is here with another edition of The Moonshot, our weekly newsletter rounding up all the joy of baseball.

Well, we believe in exit velocity, bat flips, launch angles, stealing home, the hanging curveball, Big League Chew, sausage races, and that unwritten rules of any kind are self-indulgent, overrated crap. We believe Greg Maddux was an actual wizard. We believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment protecting minor league baseball and that pitch framing is both an art and a science. We believe in the sweet spot, making WARP not war, letting your closer chase a two-inning save, and we believe love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.

Welcome to The Moonshot.

The Tigers are an absolute mess

1939. That’s the last time a Tigers team used this many starting pitchers in their first 40 games, per MLB.com’s Jason Beck. That squad used 12. This Tigers team has run 10 starters out to the bump so far, and based on Detroit’s pedestrian 14-26 record, it hasn’t gone all that well.

The 2022 Tigers are a classic case of what happens when a team in transition takes a step back. And what happens next may define an entire era of baseball in Detroit.

If the injury bug is to be believed in baseball, then the Tigers have the plague. A rotation that started the season with so much promise is down Eduardo Rodriguez, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning and more. Even the lineup — which was expected to feature top prospect Riley Greene fresh out of spring training — is missing the former fifth-overall pick due to a broken foot.

Detroit last made the playoffs in 2014, when they lost in the ALDS. Since 2017, they’ve been fully committed to a rebuild and, quite frankly, it’s been tough to watch. The last half-decade of baseball in Motown was like trying to start a car with the gas on E.

A step backward is not to be tolerated — not from this fan, or any other for that matter. After a solid foot forward last year, signs of progress must be shown. No more excuses.

— Mark Powell

Baseball, but for your ears

Adley Rutschman is everything we wanted and more

Orioles fans have been waiting a long time for Adley Rutschman. He was taken with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and in the nearly three years since he’s hit .282 with 30 homers and 110 RBIs in 650 at-bats across multiple minor league levels, while ranking each year as one of the five best prospects in baseball, according to nearly every evaluation service.

Rutschman was projected to start the year with the Orioles’ major league roster but was sidelined by a triceps injury until this weekend when he made his major league debut.

The most noteworthy highlight from his two weekend games against the Rays was this right-field triple in the seventh inning, his third Major League at-bat.

In and of itself, the play isn’t representative of anything particular about Rutshman’s considerable skill set (other than a catcher easily legging out a stand-up triple). But the electricity is palpable. You can see the energy in his run as he rounds first and realizes Brett Phillips hasn’t come up with the ball yet. You can see it in the soft and easy smile as he finally soaks in the moment, pulling off his batting gloves and realizing that his dreams are coming true.

The Orioles have an intriguing young core and they’re headed in the right direction. Rutschman is a huge infusion of talent and skill but he’s also a lightning bolt of joy for a team that has had precious little to cheer about over the past few years.

— Ian Levy

A monologue from the perspective of the Oriole’s giant, new left-field wall

Please! Stop! Why attack me? Bring no harm. Only bring doubles! And caroms! Me new in town.

Allow me reintroduce myself.

People call me “Camden Yards” but Camden Yards actually name of architect. Call me “Camden Yards’ Monster”. Left field used be closer. Now left field far. Leave me feeling emotionally distant sometimes? Me digress.

Aaron Judge mad at me. Aaron Boone mad at me. Aaron Boone should be mad at self. Famously dumb – and that coming from me, Wall.

Me cannot help. Me created in lab to destroy home runs. Me just following orders. Why not just hit ball more? Can you maybe just hit ball more?

Ahh, put bats away! Stop charging me with bats! Me don’t want to be here, either! Me never meant to exist! Me should’ve stayed loose Green Monster chunks and Berlin Wall rubble. Why they stitch me together in dead of night?!

Now, ball go far. But ball just out. No homers. Me help? Any way me can help? Can me bend? Last time tried that, crushed Michael Brantley.

Me love baseball, too. People say me not love baseball, but me love baseball. Me just cog in machine. Me much rather stand behind home plate to get better view and block view of billionaires in luxury box. Yes, me know what luxury box is. Me not born yesterday. Me born in mid-January.

But one thing me don’t understand? Love. Oh, sorry. Me read that wrong. “Glove”. Left off the G. Don’t understand glove. Will never see one. Too big for home run robberies.

Put bats AWAY, me said! Scaring me! Can we not coexist? Beast and Man, Man and beast? Beast and whiny Yankee fans, who are almost Man? Because guess what, brother? Me here for long haul. Until Rob Manfred realize how many home runs me taking away and he re-juice balls until they fly, wet and sopping, into stratosphere.

People get that wrong, too. Rob Manfred just the doctor. Rob Manfred’s Monster is game of baseball.

— Adam Weinrib

3 stories from around the MLB Division you need to read

Josh Donaldson calling Tim Anderson ‘Jackie Robinson’ is a problem regardless of intention — On Saturday, Yankees’ third baseman Josh Donaldson called White Sox outfielder Tim Anderson “Jackie” — in reference to Anderson’s calling himself “today’s Jackie Robinson” in 2019. Anderson took offense and it resulted in a benches-clearing incident. Donaldson later tried to shrug it off as an “inside joke.”

Yanks Go Yard’s Thomas Carannante explains in his piece just why what Donaldson said was wrong and why Yankees fans shouldn’t have come to his defense. “(R)egardless of his intent, there needs to be an understanding that this was wrong solely due to the troubling history black players endured in this sport. It inherently minimizes and mocks the experience of those players and people like Donaldson have never — and will never — experience in their lives.”

Albert Pujols breaks down his pitching performance — It’s been quite a week for Albert Pujols. Sunday, he smashed a pair of home runs for the Cardinals in an 18-4 victory over the Pirates. He then caught the warmup pitchers for Yadier Molina. The future Hall of Fame catcher got to take the mound for the first time in his 19-year career; he allowed four runs in the final frame. A week prior, Pujols toed the rubber himself. He, too, gave up four runs, but as Robert Murray notes it hardly matters. Pujols is happy to contribute in any way and have a little fun, too.

The Willy Adames trade proving to be one of Stearns’ best — A little more than a year ago, the Milwaukee Brewers acquired Willy Adames in a trade with the Rays. Dave Gasper of Reviewing the Brew writes that it’s one of the best trades during Brewers GM David Stearns’ seven years in the role. “You could immediately tell Adames was having a positive impact on the club,” Gasper wrote. “They immediately started winning and after acquiring him at 21-23, the Brewers went 74-44 the rest of the way, never again being below .500 on the year.” Milwaukee currently leads the NL Central with a 26-15 record, good for second-best in the NL

— Kurt Mensching

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