Monday, June 15, 2009

The Future...Is Now?

Over the last couple of weeks, the Orioles have proven that they cannot even manage to beat the dregs of the American League and find themselves in last place with the worst record in the league and the third worst record in baseball. Coming into Saturday's game, the Orioles had only managed to score a measly 1.7 runs per game for the month of June and it is reflected in the record. This offense was supposed to be decent this season but an anemic offense with the woeful pitching staff makes for a long summer in Baltimore. Does the recent outburst against Atlanta mean the slump is over? I'll believe it when they start doing it against the American League; facing NL hurlers is akin to playing AAA teams.

Instead of whining about the present, let's look to the Orioles' brighter future. There are more important issues than the standings for the Orioles and most of these players won't be here when Baltimore starts winning. How are the players under age 26playing?

Adam Jones:

The last couple weeks have seen Jones flailing and missing with 11 strikeouts and only 1 walk. The slump has worsened as he posted just a .100/.136/.250 line last week.

Jones has broken out this year, now he has to show he can continue to make adjustments.

Nick Markakis:

Since May 15th, Nick Markakis has put up a .211/.262/.307 line for a .569 OPS with only one home run.

That is easily the worst stretch of games for Nick since the first month of his rookie season. Is he injured? Let's hope not. I picked Markakis for a big breakout this season but so far he's gone the other direction. Sometimes, it's hard to remember that Markakis and Reimold are both 25.

Nolan Reimold:

For a guy who was considered a fringy prospect (I don't remember seeing him on anyone's Top 100 list except for Keith Law in recent years), Reimold has been a revelation the last two years. He stayed healthy and dominated the Carolina League last year and didn't miss a step when he showed up at Norfolk this year. Since coming to Baltimore, he is getting on base at a .356 clip (always a concern for him in the minors), has hit 7 home runs in his first 28 games and posted a .316/.435/.526 line last week alone. He appears to be getting better as the weeks go along. The future in the Oriole outfield is bright indeed.

Robert Andino:

I don't think that Robert Andino is ever going to hit well enough to be a starter in the Majors but his glove is giving me enough reason to think I may not hate the Hayden Penn trade in a couple years. A true great glove at short, Andino could be a valuable bench player/utility infielder for the next few years. The bat is Izturis-esque but so is the glove. He's actually played a better short than Izturis in his limited opportunities.

Matt Wieters:

"Matt Wieters Can And Does Assume The Double Play."

In his short professional career, Wieters has shown the ability to move up a level, struggle for a period of time, make adjustments and then destroy opposing pitchers. It looks like he's starting to do that in Baltimore.

Wieters hit .400/.438/.467 last week. He still doesn't have a home run and he still doesn't have an RBI but the signs are there that he's starting to adjust. No offense to Gregg Zaun but he's already a better hitter as he scuffles along.

Brad Bergesen:

When you have a trio of second tier pitching prospects like Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez and Jason Berken, (as opposed to top tier prospects like Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta) you really have to feel lucky if just one of them works out as a starter and truly blessed if another of them ends up as a quality reliever.

The Orioles look to be lucky so far as Brad Bergesen is making his way to being a solid 3rd or 4th guy in a major league rotation. His stuff is not great, he's a sinker/slider pitcher who doesn't look like he's going to strike a bunch of guys out but he seems to be learning how to get the best out of his stuff and let the defense behind him do the heavy lifting.

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