Friday, March 28, 2008

Baltimore Orioles Preview

2007 Record: 69-93 4th in the AL East

The O's have been the perennial 4th fiddle in the AL East for the majority of this decade, and last year was no exception. Their record in 2007 wasn't pretty, even with power pitcher Eric Bedard breaking out in a big way. This season, it appears that the bottom could fall out as they have been surpassed in the talent department by the Rays, especially considering their 2 most popular players both got traded.

Key Additions
Adam Jones OF
Luke Scott OF
George Sherrill RP
Troy Patton SP
Matt Albers SP

Key Losses
Eric Bedard SP
Miguel Tejada SS
Corey Patterson OF

Projected Line-up
1) Brian Roberts 2B
2) Melvin Mora 3B
3) Nick Markakis RF
4) Aubrey Huff DH
5) Luke Scott LF
6) Ramon Hernandez C
7) Kevin Millar 1B
8) Adam Jones CF
9) Luis Hernandez SS

Offensive Grade: C...Losing Tejada can't be considered a positive, but he was on the decline. This line-up still has some bright spots espcially at the 1 and 3 spots. Roberts is a top 5 second basemen in the game who stole 50 bases last year. Markakis is one of the rising Outfielders in the game. A 30/30 isn't out of the possibility if he continues his growth rate. Ramon Hernandez looked like he was ready to become a premier Catcher a couple years ago, but he has tailed off considerably in the offensive department. Adam Jones is primed for a breakout year if he can stay consistent. He actually benefitted from the Bedard trade because now he's out of a crowded Outfield and into a lineup where there's no pressure. Look for this supreme talent to become an elite OF both with the bat and the glove over the next couple of years. Overall though, this lineup can't compete the other teams in their own division.

Projected Rotation
1) Jeremy Guthrie
2) Daniel Cabrera
3) Adam Loewen
4) Garrett Olson
5) Troy Patton
CL) George Sherrill

Pitching Grade: D...I was gonna go with a D-, but George Sherrill proved to be one of the more consistent relievers in the AL last year, setting up for J.J. Putz in Seattle. The Starting pitching is a model of inconsistency though. Losing Bedard was a monster blow for this rotation. Now they are left with a hodge podge of C-listers. Cabrera has been a trendy breakout candidate for a couple years now, but he's more wild than a party at the Lohan house. Jeremy Guthrie actually looked very good for the first half of '07, but burned out a little down the stretch. If he can keep it together for a whole year, he could be a serviceable ace (relative term) for this staff. Loewen and Olson are both highly touted prospects, but neither look to be ready for the big leagues yet.

Projected Outlook
I feel bad for O's fans. They became accustomed to winning when Cal Ripken was there, but things look least in the present. Even down the road though, it's tough for the Orioles (and the Rays/Jays for that matter) to be optimistic about the playoffs when the Yanks and BoSox have already pretty much cemented their way in the top 2 spots every year. If I were Andy MacPhail or another member of the Baltimore management, I would pray for a divisional realignment in the near future. Until that happens, though, it's hard to imagine the Black and Orange Uni's in the postseason.

2008 Predicted Record: 60-102

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