Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Baltimore Orioles preview

Not a good year last year, but they’re on the way up. The AL East isn’t as strong as it has been in the past, and this might be their chance to start moving. It will still be at least 3 years, but there is hope. Unless they keep up this recent trend of acquiring overpriced veterans at the expense of the young kids. It didn’t work in Kansas City, and it won’t work here in Baltimore.


Matt Wieters. Not quite the second coming of Bill Dickey, he’s not hurting the team. He’s just not he superstar he was supposed to be by now. He’s okay defensively, and the bat will get better. It won’t be long before the Red Sox and Dodgers come calling. Better pitch selection and more power as he gets older will keep him employed for a long time.

Upside:  starts living up to the hype

Downside:  retains his humanity

Score:  0

First base:

Derek Lee. A good pickup for this team, and he could make a big difference. I believe in the veteran influence when it’s someone like Lee, and he’ll help the team. His first go around in the American League at this age might not be the best idea, but he’s as good as what they had last year. His defense is still good, and he should still be able to show some power, if he’s finally healthy. I look for him to have a big year.

Upside:  rebound year, and everyone is happy

Downside:  still not healthy and can’t swing the bat

Score:  + 1

Second base:

Brian Roberts. He’s a good one, and if he’s healthy this year, he’s going to have a good year. He doesn’t get on base quite as much as a top-of-the-order guy should, but he does counter that with a lot of doubles and stolen bases. When he gets on, he gets to scoring position. Defensively, he’s slowing down, but he’s really not out there for his glove. He does need to cut down on his strike outs.

Upside:  puts up a typical year

Downside:  strikes out too often and isn’t on base

Score:  + 1

Third base:

Mark Reynolds. Feast or famine, he’s an interesting guy. A threat to hit 60 homeruns and strike out 300 times. The team can’t really rely on him to be a big factor. He’ll help, a lot, and hurt quite a bit. His defensive isn’t great, and he’s the heir apparent to first or designated hitter, but not just yet. No telling what he’ll do this year, but it will get a lot of media attention, whatever it is.

Upside:  goes back to 2009

Downside:  gets stuck in a perpetual loop of Mike Schmidt’s rookie season

Score:  0

Short stop:

J.J. Hardy. Should be a help defensively, between Roberts and Reynolds. Might hit, might not. Maybe a steady job and lower expectations from this team will get him back on track. He doesn’t have to hit for power, though it would be nice. He just needs to get on base regularly, field his position and stabilize the infield. ‘nuff said. And not be Caesar Izturis.

Upside:  becomes the reincarnation of Mark Belanger with a better bat

Downside:  becomes the reincarnation of Mark Belanger with a worse glove

Score:  0

Left field:

Luke Scott. A  Manny clone, he’ll hit. Maybe not quite as well, but he will. He’ll also field better, but mostly because he’ll make the effort. He’ll get some good pitches to hit with all the sluggers behind him. If that makes a difference. If it doesn’t, he’ll still get some good pitches to hit. Might lose some at bats because he’s replaced defensively.

Upside:  keeps rakin’ and the defense won’t really matter

Downside:  becomes John Lowenstein without the moustache

Score:  + 1


Adam Jones. Only 24 and I still think he’s a star in the making. He’s getting better, or at least, not getting worse, and he’ll start getting more power. He can field the position well. I see him as an Andruw Jones-type player, and if he lays off the post-game buffet, he should be a regular longer. Having all these veterans around him might let him relax a little.

Upside: hits his stride and breaks out

Downside:  still trying to put it all together

Score:  + 1

Right field:

Nick Markakis. He’s the guy that nobody talks about all of the time. So underrated that no one would know who he was if it wasn’t for 10,000 sports writers and bloggers telling us every day that no one knows who he is. Mr Consistent. No one true break out season yet, but five really good ones. He’ll get lost in the shuffle of everyone else’s great, or disappointing, season, and no one would even know he was on the team if we weren’t told everyday that he’s so good that no one knows who he is. Or something like that.

Upside:  keeps hitting like he does and someone finally knows who he is

Downside:  finally gets the attention he deserves and stops hitting

Score:  + 2

Designated hitter:

Vladimir Guerrero. A good pick-up in that any team always needs a good bat, and he’ll fit into this line-up. This will balance out the power in the line-up. The main problem with it is that Luke Scott will now be the primary left fielder. But this team isn’t going to stop you by playing small ball. They’re going to hit a lot of home runs, and need his OBP. It would have been fourth on the team last year. Might be a last hurrah there.

Upside:  just keeps hitting

Downside:  the knees go, and the bat follows

Score:  + 1

Backup catcher:

Jake Fox, according to the depth chart. This is an issue, because he’s also the back up third baseman, left fielder, and right fielder. Tom Satriano, he ain’t. Plus, he’s got all of 22 games catching in the majors on his resume. The other choice is Craig Tatum. Neither will play a lot, and neither will hit a lot. They don’t play a lot of defense either. They better hope Wieters stays healthy.

Upside:  Wieters starts all 162 games.

Downside:  let’s not think about it

Score:  - 2

Backup first baseman:

Everyone who can’t play defense at the position they are currently at. Reynolds or Scott, most likely. This won’t hurt at first, but the damage at the other positions could. Pie could play left field, but will he hit? He’ll offer better defense. Fox at third is like Fox at catcher. Someone will do it, but it remains to be seen who, or how it will affect the line-up.

Upside:  improves the defense somewhere else

Downside:  becomes a revolving door

Score:  0

Back-up infielder:

Cesar Izturis. A man for all positions, he’s not there for his bat, but he is for his glove. Has started, and could again, if needed, but hopefully not. A useful guy to have on the team if his role is known. Good for giving guys a day off, and a defensive replacement at third at lot, but you want to limit his at bats as much as possible. An injury on the infield could be very bad.

Upside:  channels Larry Milbourne

Downside:  gets 200 at bats

Score:  - 1

Back-up outfielder:

Felix Pie. Not a bad choice, if he doesn’t start. He can hit a homerun on occasion, steal a base, play all three positions well, be a defensive replacement, pinch hitter, and all around 4th outfielder. He’ll spell Scott quite a bit and make the outfield a lot better, but you’d prefer he didn’t start a lot. If something happens at first base or designated hitter, he’ll get a lot more playing time. So hope nothing happens.

Upside:  his defense will definitely help and he can hit better than some

Downside:  has to start

Score:  0

Rotation (front 3):

Jeremy Guthrie, Justin Duchscherer, and Brian Matusz. Who? To be fair, Guthrie wasn’t bad, but this is not a rotation you can plan on competing with. It’s not even a rotation you can plan on being competitive with. It would be great if they all broke out and let the Orioles have a little bit of fun this summer, but I don’t see it. I don’t think they’ll get a lot of games to the bullpen in good shape. The defense on the left side isn’t going to help Matusz get better.

Upside:  becomes average

Downside:  pitches to expectations

Score:  - 1

Rotation (back end):

Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta. Will walk as many as they strike out and give up homeruns. I wouldn’t expect either one of them to be in the rotation by June. If they are, then the rotation is either making a jackass of all of us, or the Orioles have scored 1000 runs and the pitching doesn’t really matter.

Upside:  they tank early so replacements can be found

Downside:  replacements aren’t any better

Score:  - 2


Mike Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg, Jim Johnson, Jeremy Arcardo, and someone fill in until Alfredo Simon is out of jail. Unknowns, unprovens, and older guys filling out the staff. This isn’t going to make the starters feel very confident. Gregg could have closed, but is now the set up guy for a closer they might never get to. Lots of roster moves here through the year.

Upside:  the roster moves start before spring training

Downside:  this is as good as it gets

Score:  - 2


Koji Uehera. Not quite the train wreck the rest of the staff is, this might be a saving grace for the team. If they can get a lead to him, but I don’t see it happening. Gregg can always fill in, or they can share, so this is a strength for the team. I just don’t think it will get used a lot. Mid-season trade bait? Probably both of them. Will the Orioles go inside the division to Boston?

Upside:  saves every game he gets into

Downside:  doesn’t get into a single game all year

Score:  + 1

Team speed (which includes base running):

Not a lot of it, unless Roberts gets a full year. Izturis and Pie could be stolen base threats, but the more chances they get, the more at bats they are getting. They don’t hit many doubles or triples, and they’ve filled the line-up with guys not known for speed. This won’t help them at all this year.

Upside:  anything is a bonus

Downside:  Roberts stops running

Score:  0

Team defense:

Middling. Most of the best defenders are on the bench, and the line-up is full of big strong guys who hit, but not field. Not bad up the middle, but average or worse most of the way around. The left side should give away a lot of outs, and the middle will take them back, but not enough of them. Jones will star, but no one else will.

Upside:  they hit so well defense isn’t an issue

Downside:  the glove guys play a lot

Score:  0

Team batting:

Should be a lot better. More homeruns, and some more doubles to go with it. Mostly station-to-station, and not a lot of walks. They’ll have to knock down the fences to win, but that also means pushing 1300 strikeouts. They’re going to have lots of at bats where nothing happens, and the others will come without a lot of runners on base. Good thing RBI’s don’t mean anything anymore.

Upside:  it’s a warm summer in Baltimore and the ball carries

Downside:  they’ll set a record for most bases empty homeruns

Score:  0

Team pitching:

The weakness of the team, and no help in sight. They’ll have to deal with a lot of extra outs and not much run support. The ones that are good just won’t be able to get it done, and there will be lots of movement. Average seasons by all of them could mean 75 wins, but it’s going to be hard.

Upside:  they can’t be any worse

Downside:  they are

Score:  - 1

Total score:    - 1

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