Saturday, May 30, 2009

I'm liking the potential for next season...and the rest of this season

I honestly think the O's could finish .500 this year, although that isn't incredibly important. What's important is that they prepare for next season to really compete from start to finish. On offense, that means developing Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold into solid hitters and getting them comfortable in the big leagues. It also might mean giving Brandon Snyder a call up to see if he could be the O's everyday first basemen next season. He's hitting .342 with 9 HRs and 38 RBI's for AA Bowie.

With Jeremy Guthrie finally starting to return to form, the Orioles need to determine who could fill out the remaining 4 spots in next year's rotation. They don't need to know exactly, but they should have 3 or 4 starters set and a good competition for the last couple spots (that means no Adam Eaton, Mark Hendrickson, John Parrish, or Brad Hennessey). The O's need to give David Hernandez, Brad Bergesen, and Jason Berken prove which of them are legit back-end starters and which need to move to the bullpen. That leaves Rich Hill and more elite prospects like Chris Tillman, who is 5-0 with a 2.13 ERA in 8 starts for AAA (44 Ks in 38 IP) to compete for the front end jobs. Tillman should earn a callup sometime after the All Star break unless the current rotation exceeds more than expected. Troy Patton (6-1, 1.75 ERA in 9 starts for AA) and Jake Arrieta (4-3, 2.98 ERA, 56 K/45 IP in 9 starts for AA), also considered higher prospects, should also get chances after the All Star break or in September.

The Orioles have to make some big decisions. Aubrey Huff's contract ends after this season. They could trade him and get a few good prospects, or if they believe they can compete, resign him. I don't see the O's keeping Melvin Mora, so they could potentially move him to 3B to make room for Snyder, or move Huff back to DH. Huff has proven to be consistent and I wouldn't mind seeing him back in an Orioles uniform.

Reimold appears to have earned the left field spot. I think he will be a .270 hitter with 20-25 home runs (think Luke Scott). He's a valuable switch hitter. Scott has also proved in this ridiculous stretch that he is a hitter. I think they should keep him as their DH. That leaves Felix Pie out of room, and I think it's time to cut him loose. He really isn't needed at this point, even if he does have potential. Lou Montanez could easily replace him as the backup outfielder when he returns from his injury.

If the O's pitching prospects live up to their hype, they may have more than 5 major league starters. That could mean moving Koji Uehara to the bullpen. I would agree with that move, as Uehara has struggled after the fifth inning. I think the rotation will look something like: Guthrie, Hill, Tillman, Patton, and a competition between Arrieta, Bergesen, Berken, and Hernandez. I think Bergesen could be an upgrade over Hendrickson as long reliever and Hernandez an upgrade over Matt Albers in the bullpen.

Jamie Walker needs to be released. He is a left handed specialist but lefties are hitting over .400 against him. All he does is come into the game and face one batter, and it's almost 50-50 whether he gets them out. This is his last year in his contract, and the O's would lose $2-3 million, but they could give his roster spot to someone who really deserves it, like Wilfrido Perez, the closer for AA. He has a 0.92 ERA in 17 games, striking out 24 in 19 2/3 innings and earning 7 saves.

Ty Wigginton should be traded, possibly to the Mets, who need a first basemen. He was signed because he normally crushed left handed hitters, but he's hitting like .210 against them with absolutely no power. He's just keeping Scott and Reimold from getting at bats. He's only worth keeping if they trade Huff.

If all goes right, I could see the O's making the playoffs next season. Even if not everything goes right, I could still see them making the playoffs. An outfield combination of Reimold, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis could have 80 HRs and 300 RBIs. Throw in Luke Scott. Add a rotation that can actually get people out. This streak might come to an end.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No, you are not mistaken

I am about to post. Why? Because there is actually stuff happening. Nolan Reimold has 4 home runs and 9 RBIs with a .264 average in 13 games compared to Felix Pie and Lou Montanez, who hit 2 home runs and 10 RBIs with a .199 AVG in a combined 53 games. And then of course Matt Wieters is coming up to replace the Gregg Zaun/Chad Moeller duo that's combined to hit .210 with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs.

Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, along with Reimold, are now making up one of the best outfields in baseball. We're also starting to see some new pitchers, like Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken, and David Hernandez, who aren't even the Orioles' elite prospects. They have done pretty well, and are a huge improvement over Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson. Rich Hill, despite his poor start today, has also been a pleasant surprise.

The Orioles have been winning some legit games lately, and although they probably won't be able to compete this year, I am starting to think that they are piecing things together. Now if they can only find a way to trade Ty "can't hit right handed or left handed pitchers" Wigginton and Jamie "only pitch to one batter" Walker, I might start blogging again. But for now, we're off to a good start.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Giving Up

Today I saw a stat on yahoo. Using some sort of statistical program, the probability that the Orioles would make the playoffs was 3.5%. That's down from 7.8% last week, and the figure has consistently dropped. Despite a nice win tonight (big time production from my Roberts-Markakis fantasy duo), the O's are sitting at 10-16 and 4-14 in their last 18. Toronto is still looking strong despite pitching injuries, the Red Sox are returning to dominant form, and New York and Tampa Bay are working their way back up.

Therefore, I have decided to officially give up on the 2009 season. That's right. I'm calling it quits. I'm actually quite concerned about their future as well. Felix Pie hasn't worked out, Lou Montanez isn't stepping it up, and Nolan Reimold is solid in AAA but no Nick Markakis. The pitching is a mess, as well as the bottom third of the lineup. They are stuck with unnecessary and underperforming veterans who are blocking the path for their prospects.

Well, I'll still plan on keeping occasional tabs and post here and there, but I can only take so much. Peace out.