Today I’m starting my preseason previews of each team in the majors. Today’s team is the Baltimore Orioles.
|C||Matt Wieters||SP 1||Kevin Millwood|
|1B||Garrett Atkins||SP 2||Jeremy Guthrie|
|2B||Brian Roberts||SP 3||Brian Matusz|
|3B||Miguel Tejada||SP 4||Brad Bergesen|
|SS||Cesar Izturis||SP 5||Chris Tillman|
|CF||Adam Jones||CL||Mike Gonzalez|
|RF||Nick Markakis||RP||Jim Johnson|
|DH||Luke Scott||RP||Kam Mickolio|
|IF||Ty Wigginton||RP||Cla Meredith|
|OF||Felix Pie||RP||Mark Hendrickson|
Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.
|Key Additions||Key Losses|
|SP||Kevin Millwood||Trade (TEX)||RP||Chris Ray||Trade (TEX)|
|CL||Mike Gonzalez||Free Agency||3B||Melvin Mora||Free Agency|
|1B/3B||Garrett Atkins||Free Agency||RP||Danys Baez||Free Agency|
|3B/SS||Miguel Tejada||Free Agency|
Top Prospects: Brian Matusz (P), Jake Arrieta (P), Zach Britton (P), Josh Bell (3B)
The 2009 Orioles finished 64-98, 39 games out of first place in the American League East. I wanted to write that the Orioles finished strong last year, ending on a 4 game winning streak. However, that’s kind of cancelled out by the fact that they lost the 13 games prior to that. The Orioles got excellent performances from veterans Brian Roberts (.283, 16 HR, 30 SB), Nick Markakis (.293, 18 HR, 101 RBI), and second-year player Adam Jones (.277, 19 HR, 77 RBI, 10 SB).
The biggest story of 2009 for the Orioles was the number of rookies who came up and performed well. The majority of the hype was surrounding uber-prospect Matt Wieters. Wieters was called up at the end of May, and never looked back, posting a respectable .288 batting average with 9 homers in 96 games. However, his interaction with the young pitching staff will have a larger impact going forward. Rookies Brad Bergesen (7-5, 3.43), Chris Tillman (2-5, 5.40), and Brian Matusz (5-2, 4.63) all provided solid campaigns to the rotation. OF Nolan Reimold also helped to provide some much-needed pop, with 15 HR, 45 RBI, and 8 stolen bases. None of the players mentioned received votes for Rookie of the Year, but Matusz is still eligible for the 2010 award.
Team Outlook for 2010
I think that the Orioles are going to improve this year. The acquisitions of Kevin Millwood and Miguel Tejada will help to stabilize the clubhouse with some strong veteran presences. Millwood specifically will be looked to help further develop the pitching staff, as he’s had success in the major leagues. The signing of Mike Gonzalez was a bit confusing to me at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. One of the things that can be debilitating to a young pitcher is to watch his bullpen cough up the lead he left them with. Bringing in Gonzalez helps to stabilize the back end of the bullpen, and put pitchers like Uehara and Mickolio into roles that they are currently better suited for. Also, by having a lot of solid pitchers out in the bullpen, the younger starters won’t feel like they will be expected to go 7-8 innings every time they take the mound.
The hard part for the Orioles remains the same as every other year. The American League East isn’t getting any easier to win, with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays all expected to be very good teams as well. Even the Blue Jays aren’t expected to be slouches, which means that essentially half of their schedule will be against division opponents who will be difficult to beat on a consistent basis. I don’t think that the Orioles compete for the division title this season, but could see an improvement of potentially 5-10 wins in spite of this.
Fantasy Outlook for 2010
Key players from a fantasy standpoint include C Matt Wieters, 2B Brian Roberts, OF Nick Markakis and Adam Jones, and CL Mike Gonzalez. All of the Orioles’ starting pitchers should have some good games, but the only player I might take a risk on would be SP Brian Matusz, as he has the potential to be the leader of this rotation by the end of the season. Deeper leagues could see 3B Miguel Tejada, OF Nolan Reimold, and DH Luke Scott also have some solid value.
Prediction for 2010
I don’t use any particular statistical process or procedures to come to my predictions of win-loss record. It’s really just a gut feeling for me, after looking at their roster, briefly looking at their schedule, and previous performance.
70-92, 5th in the AL East