Thursday, April 10, 2008

Know Thy Enemy: Baltimore Orioles

It's never too late to jump back into our season previews. OK, perhaps the All-Star break would be pushing it, but for now we venture on. Today we look at a team that nearly every human projects to finish last in the American League East. Buoyed by a hot start to the 2008 season, Jon Fletcher gives his take on the Baltimore Orioles.

Lawyer jokes were created for Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Ten years too late, he has decided its time to blow up the O’s and rebuild. It seems the Birds finally have themselves a competent GM in Andy McPhail, as he got a quite a haul of young talent in dealing both fan favorites Bedard and Tejada in the off-season. Brian Roberts will likely be dealt before the all-star break if Petey doesn’t block a deal as he has often been known to do. The Orioles would love to finish 4th in the AL East again this year even though they have ended up there 8 of the last 9 years. That said odds are this is a 100 loss team. If there is a bright spot it’s that there is finally some young talent to look forward to in years to come. And fans still have the Crab Shuffle and Boog’s Bar-B-Q to distract them from the on the field product, in what still remains as one of the best stadiums in MLB, Camden Yards. O’s skipper Dave Trembley plans to use more situational hitting this year As of this writing the Birds are currently the best team in baseball at 6-1, and I had to put that in ink considering it probably won’t be said again as long as Angelos is alive. Let the Natty Boh flow, and ain’t the Beer cold!

The Lineup
Brian Roberts 2B
Melvin Mora 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Kevin Millar 1B
Ramon Hernandez C
Aubrey Huff DH
Luke Scott/Jay Payton LF
Adam Jones CF
Luis Hernandez SS

Millar keeps telling the media that this is a World Series team. Kevin has a wonderful sense of humor as Sawks fans know. Scott and Jones should post respectable numbers even though expectations are tempered. Millar in the clean up spot has worked out thus far (7 games in). Orioles’ fans dream of the future of a Markakis, Jones, and prospect Nolan Reimold OF. With any luck Reimold will possess what Jay Gibbons didn’t, a consistent power bat with good plate discipline. Scott Moore had an impressive spring and should see some playing time at 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base. Huff needs to improve drastically from last year.

The Rotation
Jeremy Guthrie
Daniel Cabrera
Steve Trachsel
Adam Loewen
Brian Burres

Along with the Nats, Rangers and Royals this is probably the worst rotation in the bigs. O’s fans gotta keep believin’ that this will be the year that Cabrera will gain control of his filthy stuff. One can dare to dream. Loewen has yet to show much improvement and I would still call him a project. Jeremy Guthrie the Indians throw away is the ace of this staff. I cringed wiring that.

The Pen
Randor Bierd
Matt Albers
Dennis Safarte
Chad Bradford
Jamie Walker
Greg Aquino
George Sherrill

The lefty Sherrill brought over from the M’s in the Bedard trade has never closed before. He will be given a long leash but if he falters look for Aquino to step into that role. Bradford (R) and Walker (L) are the pens top setup men. Safarte who came over in the Tejada deal, has control issues but looks to be the long reliever. The coaching staff is high on Albers who throws gas in the upper 90’s. The bullpen thus far has been the strength of the team and looks much improved over last season. Fatigue could be an issue as the starters will seldom go deep into games.

Jon Fletcher fondly recalls the days of Chuck Thompson, EBW, and the 1983 World Series champs. As a youngin’ he fondly remembers hearing Phils LF Gary Mathews being called words he never heard before in the bleachers of Memorial Stadium. He currently coaches his nephew’s machine pitch Astros squad but refuses to wear the cap still protesting the 1991 deal for Glenn Davis.

1 comment:

Bryan said...