Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Training Updates: Week 4

Things are wrapping up in Sarasota. With a week to go until Opening Day, decisions will need to be made this week. Let's see where things stand.

Before the season I listed 5 things to watch:

1. Pie versus Reimold - Heading into the final week, Felix Pie is hitting .229/.240/.333 with a homer, two doubles, a walk and two strikeouts. Nolan Reimold is hitting .298/.431/.489 with 2 homers, 3 doubles, 10 walks and 7 strikeouts. It all depends on what the Orioles value at this point...Reimold's superior bat or Pie glove and defensive versatility.

Derrek Lee may not be ready for Opening Day. But he will be soon and the Orioles will have to make a tough choice since Pie has no more options.

2. Chris Tillman versus Jake Arrieta - Arreita has a 5.79 ERA, Tillman has a 3.55 ERA. However, Tillman's peripherals no longer are better (0 HR, 7 K, 5BB) than Arrieta's (3 HR, 14 K, 7 BB). You have to give the nod to Arrieta, ERA's aside. Justin Duchscherer is now slated to return on April 21st at the earliest. Tillman and Arrieta should both start the season in the rotation although Baltimore won't need a 5th starter until April 10th.

3. Brian Roberts Rebound - He's back and he looks good. Keep your fingers crossed that he stays that way.

4. The Battle for the Backup Backstop - Unless Buck Showalter doesn't think Jake Fox can catch well enough, this battle is over. Fox is hitting .328/.339/.836 and leading all of baseball with 8 homers this spring. Predictably, he has cooled a bit lately but should still make the club

There is still talk that the team may keep Fox and Tatum on the roster but I find that unlikely. With Roberts' injury concerns, I would imagine that the Orioles would carry and extra middle infielder rather than a catcher. And if you're going to keep an extraneous player on the roster, I;d rather see Pie and Reimold on the bench than Tatum and Fox.

5. Who's the Backup Middle Infielder? - Cesar Izturis still probably has the job by default at this point giventhe contract the Orioles gave him. I don't think that it will happen but Brendan Harris and Robert Andino have hit well enough lately that they could release Izzy and give one of them the job. Probably not but it is conceivable.

Further developments: Jeremy Guthrie has been named the Opening Day starter...Zach Britton continues to be impressive and he remains in major league camp after the most recent round of cuts...RP Pat Egan has been returned to the Orioles from the Brewers and will be assigned to Norfolk. Egan was selected by the Brewers in the Rule 5 draft. I like Egan and think he will appear out of the Baltimore bullpen sometime this season...Rule 5 pick Adrian Rosario was returned to the Brewers...I like what I'm seeing out of Matt Wieters at the plate. He seems less tentative and has a plan for each at bat. When he's taking, he's taking, when he's swinging he's being aggressive and swinging hard...Looks like the bullpen will consist of Mike Gonzalez, Jim Johnson, Jason Berken, Kevin Gregg, Jeremy Accardo, Mark Hendrickson and Josh Rupe. But that's just my guess...Josh Bell was sent to minor league camp and told the team wants him to play third everyday...RHP Pedro Beato has a 3.72 ERA for the Mets this spring and the word is that he will make the team.


The Oriole Way said...

I think the Pie/Reimold decision is a really intriguing one, and could give some important insights into the front office's decision making process. My preference: Pie makes the Opening Day roster while Reimold goes to Norfolk and plays everyday until the inevitable injury to one of Vlad, Lee, Scott, or Jones.

1) Pie is out of options. I think it is certain that he would be claimed by another team if exposed to waivers.
2) Pie is an ideal fourth outfielder since he can play excellent defense in centerfield, so I would prefer that the Orioles not lose him for nothing.
3) Reimold was awful last year. I completely agree with your thesis that he was hurt and will bounce back nicely in 2011, but 57 spring plate appearances is a pretty small sample size.

It really is a shame that one of these guys won't make the roster just because the Orioles decided to pay Vlad $8mm this year.

DempseysArmy said...

Yeah. I like Reimold MUCH more than Pie but Felix would be a really nice 4th outfielder. Some speed, good D, a little's a nice piece to have, would hate to lose it.

Reimold, small sample size and all, looks like his old self. Controlling the strike zone, driving the ball and running well.

And yes, it is a shame. And I would still bet that Reimold outhits Vlad this year when he make it back to Baltimore...

The Oriole Way said...

At the end of the day, depth is nice. I just hope the O's don't make a roster decision that eliminates it.

Adam Jones has yet to play more than 149 games in a year, so a back-up centerfielder is an important thing for this club.