Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jusssst a bit outside: the Baltimore Orioles preview

Duty calls to preview the MLB season with up to 30 things somewhat about each of the 30 teams. At bat: the Baltimore Orioles.
  1. What would Wieters do: A .500 record might not be in the offing for the O's, so the main question is what switch-hitting catcher Matt Wieters will do in his first full season after hitting .288/.340/.412 as a rookie.

  2. Over-under on wins: 74½

  3. Take the ... Over. They'll clean out enough bad teams to override suspect pitching (MLB-worst 5.15 ERA last season). An 11-win improvement is scalable.

  4. Good young pitching, but they've been burned before: Rookie left-hander Brian Matusz represents hope the way Daniel Cabrera and Adam Loewen did for a time.

  5. A fair shot: Oriole Post also wants a balanced schedule (like the one that existed from 1983-93 when the Blue Jays were winning. FanGraphs also summed up how hard it is for a non-Evil Empire team (or the Rebel Alliance down in St. Petersburg, Fla.) to make the playoffs out of the AL East:
    "(Baltimore GM Andy) MacPhail needs to continue to hit home runs on trades, have every draft pick pan out, and they need to stay completely healthy – if all those things happen, they could challenge for the AL East crown in a year or two, until their core gets so expensive that they’ll struggle to surround them with enough quality players to keep up.

    "It’s the crappiest situation in baseball, outside of Toronto, anyway."

  6. Another comparison of an ornithological variety: Twenty-eight of their first 35 games are against teams which finished above .500 last season, including 12 in a row vs. the Yankees or Red Sox. So, expect a season arc that resembles the 2008 Blue Jays, but without the manager getting replaced by the guy who was around in the glory days. That being said, a hologram of Earl Weaver in the dugout would be cool.

  7. Working class zeroes: Somewhere, late Chicago Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz is smiling, since a dispute between telecoms means basic cable subscribers have to go to the ballpark if they want to watch the Orioles live.
  8. Feb. 8, 2008: The day GM Andy McPhail traded Erik Bedard to Seattle. Including subsequent flips, netted the Orioles the good Adam Jones, a third baseman in waiting in Josh Bell and some potential arms in Kam Mickolio and Steve Johnson.

  9. That ... that doesn't make any sense: Aging Miguel Tejada is hitting cleanup in a lineup that includes DH Luke Scott (115 OPS+ last season) and the young turks, Nick Markakis (109), Nolan Reimold (117) and Jones (106).

  10. The 40-25 club: Markakis (finally learned to spell it!) is in select company, since the list of players who have had 40 doubles in a season by age 25 includes Albert Pujols and Carl Yastrzemski.

  11. Checking out: The Orioles are 25-59 after Sept. 1 during Dave Trembley's tenure. It's like they figure the Triple-A season ends on Labour Day, so theirs should too.

  12. A biography yet unwritten: Their Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Va., has a 78-year-old general manager, Dave Rosenfield. His first GM job was in 1956.

  13. Priced to move: Scott gets lumped in with the Orioles' young core, but he turns 32 this summer. Some NL team would love his right-handed bat.

  14. The method to the badness: The Orioles' sub-mediocrity has kept leadoff man Brian Roberts from being that pesky, scrappy, gritty white dude that broadcasters extol endlessly until you just wish Joe Buck was dead. It's nice to just get to appreciate Roberts as an overachiever.

  15. The law of diminishing returns: It seems to be kicking in with de facto No. 1 starter Jeremy Guthrie, who throws hard but oh-so-straight.

  16. Mispronunciation-based pun alert: Outfielder Félix Pié's name is not said the way you might think.

  17. More proof the medium is out of control: Reading a MLBTR post asking if the Orioles should give 23-year-old catcher Wieters a contract on the order of the deal Joe Mauer got from the Minnesota Twins. It is only Wieters' second season, can't that question wait?

  18. Take out that Moeller: Cutting backup catcher Chad Moeller (which has raised a ruckus) leaves the Orioles with Wieters and Craig Tatum, who have a combined 122 games' MLB experience.

  19. A story that writes itself: Discussing whether super-ute Ty Wigginton can be a power hitter again. Short answer: He's never been that good.

  20. Fondly remembered: The Orioles' first two World Series titles included the irrepressible Moe Drabowsky, who was known to slip a goldfish into the opposing team's water cooler.

  21. OK, why is Peter Angelos going to hell: He's the owner who didn't want Jon Miller as his announcer or Davey Johnson as his manager.

  22. Would you believe: Right-hander Kevin Millwood has an ERA+ of 108 for his career, which is similar to the 109 Jack Morris had at the same age, 34.

    Please use this next January when people make the same thin Hall of Fame case for Jack Morris.

  23. June 14, 1987: Yes, that's the date Newman references in the Seinfeld episode with Keith Hernandez, but it lives infamy in Orioles-Jays history. That was the date when Baltimore's present-day pitching coach Dave Schmidt, then a pitcher, threw seven-plus innings to help snap the Jays' franchise-record 11-game win streak.

  24. Small world: Manager Dave Trembley once played senior baseball for the Kingston Ponies. The coach of that team was Toronto Sun baseball writer Bob Elliott. True story.

  25. Not a coincidence: One of their celebrity fans is Joan Jett, who like her favourite team rocked in the late 1970s and early '80s and has kind of been a memory ever since.

  26. PECOTA says: 78-84, fourth AL East, 797 runs scored, 831 against.

  27. In English please: They are the No. 1 seed in an imaginary tournament between all the fourth-place teams.
Why only 27? Time is running out and it's been 27 years since their last pennant.

No comments: