2012 AL East preview: Baltimore Orioles

15 Jan

The Baltimore orioles outlook in 2012 is better than it was last year, but that doesn’t mean that this is “the year” or that the team has been overhauled enough to compete in the beast that is the east. What can be said for Baltimore is that they are going to be a bit more exciting. While this roster, as it stands now, is not going to do much more than fight to stay out of the basement in the east, they are going to have the ability to ripoff three or four of those 6-7 game winning streaks. They really are good enough to do that. The problem is they will likely hit a few more skids than that which negate those strong pushes. Overall, Baltimore looks like a 71 win team – and that is really being optimistic.

Pitching: D+

I’m hesitant to call the conglomeration of throwers on the roster a rotation or a bullpen. As harsh as that sounds, it’s fairly accurate. A big part of why I can’t bump Baltimore up is that they are loaded with throwers and not pitchers. They have guys floating around in a seriously murky limbo of undefined roles. Even their top of the line pitchers, of which they have some talent, is not really capable of delivering yet. Arrieta, O’Day and Hunter… It sounds good on paper. Arietta will develop and continue to get better. Hunter and O’Day won in Texas, but Camden Yards is a bandbox and they will have to adjust to that – and less run support. After that I’d have to guess it’s Britton and Eveland. What is aggravating is these are all guys that can pitch to a better than .500 tune – in Baltimore, they just don’t seem to do it. it’s like pitchers go to Baltimore to die or something. In all actuality, I project these guys to be a near .500 staff – the problem is the bullpen.

The Orioles bullpen is a wasteland. Kevin Gregg is closing…I respect the job he has done, but the phrase “Kevin Gregg is closing” is not comforting. I guess Rapada will be in the pen somewhere. Otherwise I have no idea what they really plan to do which makes it tough to prognosticate. There are maybe….15 guys that are legitimately competing for a job in the pen. Any bullpen starting out that wide open is  problem. I see the pen blowing a lot of games this year. It’s sad, but this is the weakest part of the team.

The Infield: C+

You have to guess Wieters is the starting catcher, but Teagarden can push him for time. I can’t even say that Matt has the gig nailed down. I’d consider moving him to first but he doesn’t hit enough for a corner infield position. Add to that, Reynolds, Markakis and Chris Davis all play first as well. And for that fact they play third too, except Markakis who can but is better off not trying. The only thing in the infield that is 100% settled is Brian Roberts at 2nd and JJ Hardy at short. Defensively, this is a passable infield. They will make errors on a regular basis. They will also hit fairly well, but Reynolds will strike out beyond any pace that even Dave Kingman could touch. There will be a few steals but nothing to get excited about. The speed portion of most of these guy’s game is gone or never existed.

The OF: D+

The only reason the outfield gets a D+ is Adam Jones. Without him, this is an F. maybe an F+. Jones is the outfield. Endy Chavez is a nice reserve. Nolan Reimold is okayish. Just okay. He cannot carry the outfield much less a team. Angle and Miller… they can catch the ball. That is the best I can say about them. There is nothing to get hyped over aside from Jones, and you have to wonder how much longer he can stay with the Orioles before it sucks the life out of him and turns him into – well – Endy Chavez.

Orioles pitching will carry them now and then. Guys will get hot on a cycle and go nuts so that just a little offense is enough. Unfortunately they can’t do it all and pitch this team to .500. I would not be surprised to see Baltimore move a piece or two for big prospects. This is another rebuilding year in a long string of them.

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