2010 Baltimore Orioles Preview

2011 or 2012 Might Be The Year For the Orioles, But 2010 Won't Be [Baltimore Orioles Preview]

3/2/10 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

In 2009, the Baltimore Orioles finally started to get some positive press for the young talent that’s starting to arrive at the big club. Unfortunately, it hasn’t resulted in more wins for the O’s, who went 64-98 last year as the rookies took their lumps and the older guys showed why they were stuck with the Orioles. The young guys now have a year under their belts though. Is this the year Baltimore finally takes a step forward?

Key Additions: Kevin Millwood, Miguel Tejada, Mike Gonzalez, Garrett Atkins

Key Subtractions: Melvin Mora, Chris Ray, Danys Baez

Projected Lineup
2B Brian Roberts
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
3B Miguel Tejada
C Matt Wieters
LF Nolan Reimold
DH Luke Scott
1B Garrett Atkins
SS Cesar Izturis

Projected Rotation
Kevin Millwood
Jeremy Guthrie
Brian Matusz
Brad Bergesen
Chris Tillman

Closer: Mike Gonzalez

Strengths


The Orioles boast one of the best outfields in the game, both defensively and offensively. Adam Jones broke out to become an All-Star and Gold Glove winner (although a second half swoon and injury are both concerns). Nick Markakis continued his solid work in right, leading the league in outfield assists, while Nolan Reimold was called up May and never stopped hitting, putting up a .279/.365/.466 line. Felix Pie even picked up his hitting a bit, and should be a fine fourth outfielder, especially with the glove. Markakis and Reimold are 26, and Jones is 24, so these guys are just hitting their primes.

The Orioles appear to have average to above average bats at 7 of the 9 positions. Luke Scott will provide some decent pop at DH, while Brian Roberts will keep getting on base and raking doubles from the leadoff spot. Miguel Tejada is a bit of a question mark as he switches to third, but he did post a 109 OPS+ last year, which would be a big improvement from Melvin Mora. Finally, there’s Matt Wieters. Overall, he didn’t come close to the hype last year, posting a .753 OPS. However, in the last month of the season, Wieters raked to the tune of .333/.395/.486. Look for a breakthrough year now that Wieters has adjusted to major league pitching. The end result should be an offense that improves on their 11th place ranking last year.

Weaknesses

Starting pitching remains a big question mark. Highly touted prospects Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman made their debuts in 2009 after quick rises through the system. While they showed flashes of their promise, both pitchers struggled with consistency as they adjusted to the bigs. Baltimore traded for Kevin Millwood in hopes of stabilizing the rotation. However, Millwood only had one good year for Texas (it just happened to be last year), is 35, and homer prone. Yet he’s to be the purported “ace.” The O’s will also hope that Jeremy Guthrie rebounds from last year’s disaster, and that last year’s surprise, Brad Bergesen, isn’t a fluke despite a sub-optimal strikeout rate. It’s a better situation than last year (i.e. no Adam Eaton sightings), but it’s still a rotation full of question marks.

Honestly, I have no idea how good the bullpen will be, but it usually is bad. Mike Gonzalez signed a 2 year deal to be the closer, which he did a fine job of in Atlanta last year. After that, there are some intriguing arms (Jim Johnson) mixed in with flotsam (Mark Hendrickson, Koji Uehara). Again, the bullpen is potentially better than previous years, but still a big question mark.

For a team that does pretty well and getting offense out of the defensive positions like catcher, second base, and centerfield, the Orioles are pretty bad at finding offense at the offensive oriented position. The latest example is Garrett Atkins, starting first baseman. A few years ago, Atkins was serviceable. Then came 2008, when he posted just a 96 OPS+, and it got worse in 2009, when he hit a putrid .226/.308/.342. Keep in mind, this was at Coors Field. He’s also relatively new at first, and not that great with the glove. Atkins is probably not as bad with the bat as he was in 2009, but there’s not a lot to like here.

Dave Tremblay is considered an average manager at best, and if the Orioles struggle again, his season will likely end with a pink slip.

Players to Watch

Tillman and Matusz. If they can take a step up this season, expectations in 2011 or 2012 will increase dramatically and the hope of the O’s having a top notch 1-2 in the rotation might become reality.

Prediction

This will more than likely be the 13th straight losing season for the Orioles. However, the pieces for a future run continue to assemble and mature, and that plus the Blue Jays step back will mean a 4th place finish in the AL East and a 73-89 record.

What are your thoughts on the 2010 Baltimore Orioles?
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3/3/10   |   WhoDat12   |   2252 respect

Baltimore will be a lock....for fourth place.

3/3/10   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

daytonfly2 wrote:
The signing of Tejada hurts my mind because of his ability to get injured and out right suck at free will.  His age isnt on the Orioles side also.  No matter the sport, there are always a few teams out there that the owners screw them over because they dont want to spend too much.  Fyi, i am against the "no salary cap" because it allows players to be paid way to much for the little skill they have.  But it hurts many teams because there are the Yankees and Red Sox who spend way too much just to deny other teams.  The Orioles is a prime team to show that the MLB is lopsided.  The Angels on the other hand can win but lose their best players after only 1 season.  Back to the Orioles and their inability to draft well and pick up good free agents.  Their pitching is going to be solid in a matter of a year or 2 (agreed), but its their infield that kills them.

Tejada is a one year stopgap to prospect Josh Bell, and he's only had one below average season (2008). He's not at his peak, but he's not being paid like it either.

Admittedly, I don't understand your overall argument, but the Orioles have certainly shelled out big contracts in the Angelos era (and did go after Texieria). Since MacPhail became GM, they've gotten away from that though (save Texieria, who had local ties), as big free agents weren't going to get to that point. If and when the O's get close to contention, I could easily see them jump back in. Just because they're a mid-market team doesn't mean they're unwilling to spend.

3/3/10   |   Boski93   |   375 respect

The O's look to finally have set themselves back on the right path, after a decade plus of bad decisions. The O's finally have shored up their farm system and appear to be moving away from signing or trading for players who past their "sell buy" date. Sadly it may be another long year for the O's have to play in the AL East, which for the short term fans may see improvement, but that improvement may not necessarily show up in the W/L column.

Good write up.

3/3/10   |   daytonfly2   |   21 respect

The signing of Tejada hurts my mind because of his ability to get injured and out right suck at free will.  His age isnt on the Orioles side also.  No matter the sport, there are always a few teams out there that the owners screw them over because they dont want to spend too much.  Fyi, i am against the "no salary cap" because it allows players to be paid way to much for the little skill they have.  But it hurts many teams because there are the Yankees and Red Sox who spend way too much just to deny other teams.  The Orioles is a prime team to show that the MLB is lopsided.  The Angels on the other hand can win but lose their best players after only 1 season.  Back to the Orioles and their inability to draft well and pick up good free agents.  Their pitching is going to be solid in a matter of a year or 2 (agreed), but its their infield that kills them.

3/2/10   |   Debi_L   |   11285 respect

I'm glad you picked Tillman and Matusz as the players to watch, because they are two I think will somehow will break out and be the positives in what the O's have to offer.  Great insight by the way, on a team that definitely isn't everyone's favorite, but deserves a few more fans than they do have.

3/2/10   |   tpowell25   |   1627 respect

On paper, it looks like the O's will be sitting pretty on offense.  Like you said Eric, that pitching staff is going to kill them.  Congrats on getting Gonzalez though.  He showed last season that he is definitely back from Tommy John surgery and is throwing the ball well.

I think Millwood will do pretty good in Baltimore.  He is HR prone, but he gets in stretches where he's pretty damn good.  If he finds a consistent groove, he might put up some decent numbers this year behind that offense.