Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Rest of the East: Baltimore Orioles

Let's say it like it is. The Baltimore Orioles are... not good. They have spent their last several seasons as the doormat of the AL East after Tampa Bay started to compete.

The Baltimore Orioles have the chance to be a decent team in a division that doesn't include the Yankees and the Red Sox. They have good offensive players in Adam Jones and Nick Markakis. Their pitching staff could use some work, but they have some young guys who have a chance to shine. Zach Britton, Brian Matusz have shown that they can be dominant pitchers in the starting rotation. Matusz had a promising 2010 season, while Britton showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie season. Jim Johnson is a flame throwing right hander who is making the transition to the starting rotation this season. He served as a one inning setup man in the 2011 season, but his pitches have enough life and enough of a difference in speed that he will be better served as a starting pitcher.

Kevin Gregg was a good closer in Toronto before he signed with Baltimore and struggled in his first season with the birds. Expect a bounce back season from Gregg. The starting rotation is young and inexperienced. The youth on this team leaves me to believe that their inexperience will play against them in the beast of the east.

They have some guys in the lineup who can contribute offensively and defensively. Nick Markakis has one hell of an arm and hits for power. A change of scenery can make him shine in right field. Matt Wieters had a great season in 2011. He is a powerful force at the plate and behind the plate. He is a special catcher. J.J.  Hardy provides a veteran presence in the clubhouse and can be a valuable asset to a team filled with youth.

This team has many players who have a chance to shine, but their youth and inexperience make it difficult for me to give them a chance in the AL East. Buck Showalter has shown his fiery personality and is a presence in the clubhouse. He needs a few more pieces, including a proven starting pitcher, to even approach .500 baseball.

I don't see the Orioles winning more than 71 games this season.

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