Monday, March 14, 2011

MLB 30 in 30: Baltimore Orioles

After Dave Trembley didn't quite pan out for the Orioles, they brought in Buck Showalter. And oh what a difference that made. The O's went 57-34 with Buck, and the Orioles are hoping for the same kind of success in 2011. But, will the tough division be the biggest detriment?

What they Have: They have a good young core of players. The youth is exemplified in both the rotation and starting lineup.  The lineup is lead by C Matt Wieters, who although highly touted, had some struggles last season and needs to regain form.  Also, the outfield has 2 great young talents in RF Nick Markakis and CF Adam Jones, who both had struggles last year but can hit and defend really well. Look for DH Luke Scott to hit plenty also. 75% of the projected starting infield is new, lead by 3B Mark Reynolds from Arizona. He strikes out a ton, but can hit plenty of homers, and being in a hitter's park helps. SS J.J Hardy came over from Minnesota, and if he can stay healthy, he can be a good clubhouse leader for this young team. And finally, 1B Derrek Lee came over from Atlanta and he'll be the incumbent at 1B. The lineup has more veterans than young guys, but that's not the case with the rotation. Jeremy Guthrie leads the rotation, but he's not the focus. The focus is on guys like Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, and Chris Tillman. All of those guys are the group that will comprise the Orioles rotation of the future. All of them are young, but all have very high ceilings. The bullpen has some bright spots, lead by closer Koji Uehara, and also some youth is thrown in with guys like prospect Zach Britton, and Jeremy Accardo, newly acquired from the Blue Jays.

What they Don't Have: The bullpen isn't very good. The staff has good pitchers, but the Orioles pen was a major problem this year, and it doesn't look to be too much better this time around. The issue with the 'pen is that they may not hold leads for the young guys, and that can hurt the young pitchers confidence. Also, the lineup has good talent, but many guys like Nick Markakis and Adam Jones are coming off sub-par years, and they need to hit well in order for the O's to at least make some noise in the AL East.

Any Help Coming? SS Manny Machado is a great young prospect for the O'S, and he could be a big power hitting SS, a la Hanley Ramirez. OF Xavier Avery has plenty of speed, but added some power to the mix, and he could be an all around great outfielder. 2B L.J Hoes has good power potential, but doesn't quite have Avery's speed.

Outlook: Bright. But this year may not be so bright. The Orioles have a good batch of young talent at the major league level, and soon more will be coming. The division they play in won't help any, but this team has the talent to be successful down the road, and maybe make some noise this season.

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