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Monday, March 22, 2010

2010 Baltimore Orioles team preivew

2009 Record: 64-98   .395

Run Differential: -135

Baltimore hasn't made the playoffs since Jeffrey Maier gave Derek Jeter a home run on what would have been a flyout.  Not unlike Pittsburgh, fans have grown weary of waiting for the next playoff appearance.  Contrary to public perception, the team hasn't even been a big spender in recent offseasons.  It seems apparent that owner Peter Angelos finally realized that big spending doesn't always equal success but good drafting does.  While several players on this team are getting up there in age, the new core of players is moving into place.  Outfielders Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Nolan Reimold are young players firmly entrenched as starters.  Markakis and Jones have already made an All-Star team and last year's #1 prospect Matt Wieters is ready to make his impact felt this season.  Angelos has even opened up his pocketbook to keep his favorite players in town as evidenced by the long term deals signed last season by Brian Roberts and Markakis.  What made last season so brutal though, was the pitching.  When Brad Bergensen is the best hurler on the staff, you're giving up a lot of runs. But with the recent emphasis on better drafting, hope is on the horizon.

The first order of business this offseason was trading over priced and injury prone reliever Chris Ray to Texas for overpaid starter Kevin Millwood.   While this move isn't expected to bring the team to contention, Millwood is a good bet to pitch a ton of innings and could be a good influence on the younger arms.  I say younger arms because two stud pitching prospects are penciled into the rotation to begin the season.  Chris Tillman--included with Adam Jones in what was a ridiculously lopsided trade for Erik Bedard--and number one prospect Brian Matusz will be better than any two pitchers Baltimore used regularly last year.  The team hopes Jeremy Guthrie can return closer to form from 2008 while Bergensen maintains what he accomplished last year.  The bullpen is still a work in progress but that's fine as it's usually the last piece to come together for a rebuilding team.  With the aforementioned offensive core rounding into place and the younger pitchers pushing the league average innings munchers out of the rotation, maybe all this team needs is experience before it's ready to compete.  It won't be in 2010 but 2012 could be interesting in the AL East.  

Get used to this face, Oriole fans because he's going
to be the best player to wear Orange since Ripken.

Likely Opening Day Roster:
My Two Cents
Matt Wieters
Let the debate for best AL catcher begin.
Craig Tatum
Might play once a week on this team -- if he's lucky
Garrett Atkins
Couldn't hit in  Colorado. Not sure why Bal thinks a move to the AL East will work.
Brian Roberts
Became only fourth player ever with three career seasons of 50+ doubles
Miguel Tejada
A move to the tougher league + a new position = Miguel Tejada proving doubters wrong again
Cesar Izturis
Best defensive SS in the AL last season. Good thing too because that .622 OPS stinks.
Nolan Reimold
Not a good defensive OFer but should put up 20 HR seasons
Adam Jones
Gets a little better each year.  Soon he'll be a superstar
Nick Markakis
Looks to rebound from worst year yet offensively and defensively
Ty Wigginton
Can't really play defense anymore and doesn't really hit righties. Will likely platoon.
Robert Andino
Worst player on the team. Plays OK defense but can't hit at all
Felix Pie
Lost starting job in May but was team's hottest hitter in August. Still plays great defense
Luke Scott
Hates playing DH. Will probably be starting at 1b once team tires of Atkins
Kevin Millwood
O's have good OF defense but hitters park likely spells doom for this guy
Jeremy Guthrie
Since shoulder injury in '08 has been awful
Brad Bergensen
 Team's best pitcher last season. Likely an overachiever meaning a regression is in the air
Brian Matusz
Unless he gets hurt, will likely be the best Oriole pitcher since Mussina 
Chris Tillman
Only 22, expect him to shave a run off last season's 5.40 rookie ERA 
Mike Gonzalez
One of the most effective RPs there is but is a constant injury risk 
Koji  Uehara
Doesn't throw hard but has impeccable command on all pitches. Could return to SP
Jim Johnson
Only 8 of 12 on Save Opp but had a 3.12 ERA as set-up man
Cla Meredith
Declining K rate shows his tricks are so tricky anymore
Will Ohman
Excellent vs. lefties. Will try win spot in roster during Spring Training. 
Matt Albers
Mediocre reliever on a team with a bad bullpen. Obviously not a long-term option
Mark Hendrickson
3.44 ERA as a reliever last year.

Say Hello To: Miguel Tejada, Mike Gonzalez, Garrett Atkins, Kevin Millwood, Will Ohman, Jeff Salazar, Craig Tatum

Wave Goodbye: Melvin Mora, Chris Ray, Danys Baez, Brian Bass, Rich Hill, Sean Henn, Jamie Walker, Radhames Liz

Rookies: Brian Matusz - Spent one full year in the minors before being promoted to the bigs last season. Struck out 38 in 44 innings. I'd say he's ready.

Potential Breakout: Matt Wieters - Last year's expectations were unreasonable but he did hit .308 after the first month.  He could hit 25 home runs this year and if he does that he'll already be a star.

Welcome to Earth:  Kevin Millwood - Had a mini renaissance year last season but was it for real?  Camden Yards is a hitter friendly park so he will be tested.

Likely to Rebound: Nick Markakis - Not convinced he'll ever be a star but he's a very good player.  The biggest concern from last year was his regression on defense. I think he'll revert back to 2008 form.

Top 3 players: Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Brian Roberts

Top Prospect: Brian Matusz - Oh yeah, I forgot to mention his minor league ERA was under 2.00 last year.

Prediction: 76-86  4th place AL East
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