Rebuilding The Magic
For the past 2 seasons, the Orioles have been relevant in the playoff run, first time since 1997 with consecutive 80+ wins seasons. In 2012, the O's made an unbelievable run that was very unexpected, not only for the fans of the Orioles but the entire MLB, winning 91 games and making it to the ALDS. Last season the magic was still there but unfortunately they missed the postseason. The Orioles won 85 games last season but went 38-41 in the 2nd half of the season. In 2012, the Orioles were 29-9 in 1 run games and 16-2 in extra innings compared to 2013 where they were 20-31 in 1 run games and 8-9 in extra innings. That was the biggest difference between 2012 and 2013, along with the best players on the team not showing up at the biggest moments. Chris Davis had an outstanding 2013 campaign with 53 bombs, breaking Brady Anderson's single season home run record, but in September he batted .216 with 37 strikeouts and only 6 home runs and 13 walks. With opening day only 1 months away, its time to rebuild and bring back the magic.
This will be manger Buck Showalter's 4th year with the O's and the significant thing about that is he has never spent more than 4 seasons with the teams he has manged in the past, Yankees (1992-1995), Diamondbacks (1998-2000), Rangers (2003-2006). Buck has changed the culture of this team tremendously, bringing a winning baseball back into this city. This is what he does though, his first season with the Diamondbacks they went 65-97, the following season they went 100-62. His first season with the Rangers they were 71-91, next season they finished 89-73 barley missing the postseason. I would love for Buck to come back for another season but GM Dan Duquette must get him some more players.
- signed CF Quintin Berry - played with Red Sox, Tigers, and Royals in 2013. In 1 season Berry was 29-29 on stolen base attempts including postseason.
- signed P Liam Hendricks - p[layed with Twins in 2013. 1-3 6.85 ERA in 10 games (8 starts)
- Traded DH Danny Valencia to Royals for OF David Lough
- P Ryan Webb - played with Marlins 2013. 2-6 2.91 ERA in 66 games
- Traded Jim Johnson to Oakland A's for 2B Jemile Weeks
The Orioles were never known for spending money in the off-season but when you build an expectation with your fan base and they want to win now, big acquisitions will keep them happy. Right now, fans are very frustrated with the Orioles because they have missed on opportunities to better the squad . I don't mind the O's not spending crazy bread but I do want them to go after some notable players, mainly pitchers. The O's starting pitching rotation is real spotty right now. The only two reliable starters are Wei Yen Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, combined, both have an ERA of 3.91 and 18-15 record in 51 starts. These are average numbers for the top of your rotation and if the O's want to really make a push for the pennant they will need another solid starter. Buck has done a good enough job with a sub-par staff, basically doing it by committee with no bonafide Ace to rely on but without closer Jim Johnson, I think another starter will be needed BADLY. So far the O's has made attempts at Bronson Arroyo but he decided to sign a 2 year 23.5 million dollar deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arryo would have been a good pickup, adding experience to a some what young staff but he choose to go to the spacious stadiums of the NL West. There are a few good starting pitchers remaining in the free agent pool that the O's can go after, AJ Burnett, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Barry Zito are still on the market, all three I feel can help the starting rotation.
The O's lost a major piece this off-season when they traded away closer Jim Johnson. They had a chance to get another all-star closer in Grant Balfour but he failed his physical, O's eventually backed off the deal. O's still have a great young nucleus to build around with Chris Davis, Adam Jones, and Manny Machado. The O's have one of the best lineups in the league, 1st in the league in home runs last season, 5th in RBIs, and 10th in batting average. The downfall to having the best hitting team in the league is sometimes they swing for the fences too much. In the final stretch of the season, the O's really struggled to bring in runs. I can't count how many times they had the bases loaded and would end up with no runs. That's one thing I hope the O's work on this spring training because hitting home runs are great but when you manufacture runs you can end up like the Red Sox, who didn't have a great staff or lineup. O's also need to work on the infield defense that was some what lackluster at times, mainly having issues at the 2nd base position. No matter what though, I think the O's will be a contender come September.
Potential Opening Day Lineup:
1b - Chris Davis
2b- Jemile Weeks
3b - Ryan Flaherty
SS - JJ Hardy
LF - David Lough
CF - Adam Jones
RF - Nick Markakis
C - Matt Weiters
P - Wei Yen Chen
- Manny Machado, who injured his left knee last September running to 1st base, has been cleared for baseball activities and has been getting stronger during Spring Training, yet I don't think he will return until May.