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Friday, February 11, 2011

MLB Preview: Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have not been "good" for quite awhile now. We all know that. I blame Tony Tarasco.

I lied. I blame Derek Jeter, aka, the worst human being on the face of the earth.

Anyway, presenting your 2011 Baltimore Orioles.

C Matt Wieters
1B Derrek Lee
2B Brian Roberts
3B Mark Reynolds
SS JJ Hardy
LF Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
DH Vladimir Guerrero
SP Jeremy Guthrie
SP Brian Matusz
SP Justin Duchscherer
SP Jake Arrieta
SP Brad Bergesen
RP Koji Uehara
RP Kevin Gregg

Key players: Felix Pie, Nolan Reimold, Cesar Izturis

Well, its official, the Orioles have retooled, and have a lineup that has some dangerous potential. Jones (.284, 19 HR, 69 RBI), Markakis (.297, 12 HR, 60 RBI), and Wieters(.249, 11 HR, 55 RBI), provide a nice nucleus of talent. All three had poor showings in 2010, but could easily turn it around. Hardy (.268, 6 HR, 38 RBI) and Roberts (.278, 4 HR, 15 RBI) are solid veterans in the middle infield, and I think Roberts is one of the most underrated second basemen in the majors. Scott (.284, 27 HR, 72 RBI) had a monster second half in 2010, but can the gun enthusiast keep it up?

Then, they went out and spent some money. Guerrero (.300, 29 HR, 115 RBI), Lee (.260, 19 HR, 80 RBI), and Reynolds (.198, 32 HR, 85 RBI) are three big bats with which the Orioles hope to reshape the lineup and take the pressure off the younger guys. I dislike Mark Reynolds, he strikes out way too much. Guerrero and Lee have to stay healthy. The Orioles were 11th in the league in sluggling last year, 10th in home runs, and 13th in RBIs.... this should help. They were also 8th in average, and Reynolds will not help things.

The major issue with the Orioles is that the pitching will have to be there all season for them to be competitive. Guthrie (11-14, 3.83) was mostly effective last year, but after that, there are a lot of young guys who are unproven. Matusz (10-12, 4.30) and Arrieta(6-6, 4.18) and Bergesen (8-12, 4.98) and Tillman (2-5, 5.87) have potential, but have not quite yet proven it. Duchscherer needs to show he can be healthy. Take a gander at all of those stats..... they aren't "good". But, all those guys are young and could very much improve with the extra year of experience under their belts.

Best case scenario:
The lineup gels and becomes one of the best in baseball. After initially struggling, the starting rotation finds consistency. Arrieta and Matusz prove they belong in the majors. Duchscherer stays healthy and has another All-Star season. Uehara, Gregg, and Gonzalez combine to be a strong bullpen. They play strong the entire season, and are one of the main reasons that the Wildcard does not come from the east, as the Yankees and Orioles finish just behind the Sawks. The Orioles build some momentum and become a relevant team once again.

Worst case scenario:
Age and youth without much proven in between fails miserably. Guerrero and Lee go down hurt. Reynolds strikes out enough to set a new single season record and creates enough windpower to fuel Baltimore for a month. Wieters and Jones continue to struggle. Angelos reminds everyone how beautiful Camden Yards is, but still no one comes. After 3 Cy Young caliber starts, Duchscherer hurts his hip again. The rest of the youthful rotation struggle to last in games, tiring out the bullpen as the Orioles fall 20 games under .500 by the break. Guerrero and Lee get traded to the Tigers and Cubs, respectively. Markakis is shipped to the Angels, who desperately need another outfielder after Wells, Abreu, and Hunter all have to check into the nursing ward. The Orioles then fall into obscurity once again, with AA pitcher after AA pitcher getting swatted by professional teams.

There you have it. Stay tuned for the Astros

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