Tuesday, April 6, 2010

5 Reasons Why Watching the Orioles in 2010 Will Be Better Than 2009

Disaster. Disaster seemed to strike at every turn last season and the team was so thin that every injury, failure or error was exacerbated by the fact that holes could not be plugged when guys got hurt or washed out. I am thinking that this is the main reason that 2010 will be better than 2009; the depth. It's not an incredibly deep organization yet but it's getting better.

There's the general reason, here are the specifics.

1. The Rotation

Last season's Opening Day rotation consisted of Jeremy Guthrie, Mark Hendrickson, Alfredo Simon, Adam Eaton, Koji Uehara and then Rich Hill as a backup. Outside of Guthrie, those starters combined for only 46 starts and an ERA north of 6.00. This forced Jason Berken, David Hernandez and Brian Matusz into the rotation before they were ready with mixed results.

This season, the rotation to start the season is Guthrie, Kevin Millwood, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz and David Hernandez. Guthrie and Millwood aren't All-Stars but are good bets to be league average pitchers and start 28+ games. Bergesen and Hernandez are battle-tested sophomores and, as a combo, are also good bets to produce league average ERA. Brian Matusz is a candidate for AL Rookie of the Year.

There are clearly flaws with the rotation but it doesn't look like it will be an unmitigated disaster like 2009.

2. The Outfield

Going into 2009, the Oriole outfield was a big strength and loaded with potential Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Felix Pie and Luke Scott. In 2010, it's even better.

Nick Markakis has a down year by his standards but looks to rebound nicely as the Orioles want him to hit second in the lineup this year, a position that plays to his strengths at the plate. Adam Jones broke out offensively in 2009 and is, by definition, a Gold Glove caliber centerfielder. Pie, after a shaky start in the field and at the plate, looks to be coming into his own as he starts the season in left. Nolan Reimold was an afterthought in 2009 but barring a late season injury probably would have been ROY. And there's still Scott who can still play left and has led the team in slugging for the past two seasons.

It is the deepest area on the team and it's depth that even the Yankees can't boast.

3. Matt Wieters

Bold prediction: Matt Wieters is ready to take the title of "Best Catcher in the AL Not Named Mauer".

But I am not alone. ESPN's Keith Law has picked him as a breakout candidate and expects him to hit well over .300 with 20-25 homeruns. Can't wait to see what he does this year.

4. The Bench

I wasn't crazy about the signing of Garrett Atkins but if it pushes Ty Wigginton to the bench with Julio Lugo, Craig Tatum and whoever the 5th outfielder is that day, that's a pretty good bench.

OK, Tatum is more of a catch and throw guy. But Lugo, Wigginton and Reimold/Pie/Scott? That's not bad at all. Decent bats, some decent speed...no more having to watch the like of Robert Andino or Ryan Freel taking weak hacks.

5. Norfolk

Norfolk helped provide the cavalry last season and looks poised to do so again. Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Brandon Erbe, Kam Mickolio, Jim Miller Denis Sarfate, Josh Perrault, Brandon Snyder, Josh Bell and Justin Turner are all (possibly) ready to step in in case of injury or ineffectiveness on the big club. And even Troy Patton, Scott Moore, Ryne Hughes or Lou Montanez may be able to help in 2010.

The bottom line is, although the minors graduated a lot of talent to Baltimore last season, there is still more (of varying degrees) to come. And that's a good thing.


Sean said...

Well, numbers 1-3 proved themselves today...

Unknown said...

Notice that I never claimed the bullpen would be better... :-)

erotik liseli said...
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