May 27, 2009
The words Orioles fans have been waiting for all season were uttered last night in a surprise admission from president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail during last night’s game broadcast:”It’s time.”
He was referring to calling up top prospect Matt Wieters, touted as one of the best minor league players in the nation — and a catcher to boot — who has torn through the O’s minor league teams during the past year notching five home runs, a .504 slugging percentage and .305 batting average this year with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.
Most predictions had Wieters coming to town in mid-June for the home series in two weeks against the Atlanta Braves. But from a business standpoint, the sooner the highly touted prospect gets here, the better.
O’s fans are officially nuts for this guy: one blog called “Matt Wieters Facts” invites readers to submit Wieters “facts” (like “Matt Wieters Is So Important That When He Gets Called Up, Peter Schmuck Will Stop Wearing Hawaiian Shirts And Wear Suits Instead”).
Local and national news outlets all have stories evaluating everything from Wieters’ ability to cope with the pressure to his potential impact to what he ate last night for dinner.For a 20-26 team sitting in the basement of the AL East and drawing an average 21,473 fans a game, the Wieters-mania is nothing to sneeze at.
The attention will undoubtedly boost the Orioles’ national exposure and put more butts in the seats at least in the short term. But how long can it last? And is calling up Wieters early a good move in the long term or is it more about generating the buzz now?