Thursday, February 24, 2005

 

2005 Season Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Today I will delve into the 2005 Baltimore Orioles. Joy...


James Baldwin, SP: Oh man, this is what happens when you only focus on Plan A. (Pavano/Delgado/all the other free agents who spurned you)

Chris Gomez, SS: Gomez signed a minor league deal and was sold to a Japanese team afterwards. Thanks guys!

Steve Kline, RP: Unhappy lefty searching for place where he is respected and wanted. He’ll do fine, adding to a Baltimore bullpen that tends to be pretty good.

Steve Reed, RP: Wouldn’t it be ironic if Reed sucked outside of Colorado? Luckily he was great in San Diego a few seasons back, so we don’t have to worry about that. One of the best at what he does with little fanfare.

BJ Surhoff, OF: Surhoff and Julio Franco should eventually fight to the death to decide who is cooler. Surhoff is only 40 at this point, but he used to catch. I say let em’ fight. Not to mention if Surhoff played against the Red Sox by himself he just might win 75% of the games. I am not going to back that up statistically, I am just going to say I love him whenever he is not playing us.

Enrique Wilson, SS/2B/General Nuisance: If the Sox still had Pedro I might be concerned. But they don’t…the Orioles do seem to like to keep players who are pains in the Sox asses though.

Acquired via trade: Not So Slammin’ Sammy Sosa! For spare parts the rest of the league was interested in for some unknown reason by the name of Jerry ‘Hi, I’m injured more often than I’m not but my dad played baseball too’ Hairston. Good move for Baltimore, since Chicago is picking up part of the tab, but its not much in the ways of earth shattering.


As far as the lineup and rotation goes...

1) Brian Roberts
2) Melvin Mora
3) Miguel Tejada
4) Sammy Sosa
5) Javier Lopez
6) Rafael Palmeiro
7) Jay Gibbons
8) Luis Matos
9) Larry Bigbie

I'm not so sure about the actual order of their lineup this year, because I am not sure if Sosa's feelings will be hurt depending on his place in it. It is a pretty good lineup though, even though Brian Roberts is not the best leadoff hitter in the world. Matos is a weak link, as is Bigbie to an extent (batting 9th, his OPS last year was .869...odd since it was .659 from the #8 spot.)

The Orioles rotation. It pains me to write about it to be honest.

1) Sidney Ponson
2) Rodrigo Lopez
3) Erik Bedard
4) Daniel Cabrera
5) Matt Riley

Baseball Prospectus projection system PECOTA has Ponson pegged for a good year, excellent when compared to last years disaster. Rodrigo Lopez should be good once again, but his strikeout rates seem very low at 6.38 (career 6.29) which makes me think he could do very well or awful. John Sickels was optimistic about Bedard and Riley last season, so I expect improvement from them. Daniel Cabrera on the other hand...

Daniel Cabrera had some awful peripheral numbers last year. His K/9 was just 4.63 and he had more Walks than K's (89 to 76). Rob Neyer said Cabrera needed some fine tuning last season and he could become a better pitcher with time, so that could happen. But those peripherals aren't promising since he was rushed to the majors (5 Double-A starts last year.)

B.J. Ryan is the better reliever between himself and Jorge Julio, and probably won the closer's job when Julio was sidelined with a forearm injury. Blessing in disguise? Not if they use Ryan, their best reliever, solely in the traditional closer's role.

I do not expect much from the Orioles this season. In time they could be good with some promising young arms in the rotation, but chances of competing with the Sox and Yanks atop the division are very very low. Tampa Bay's farm system continues to churn out talent, and the Blue Jays (even minus Delgado) have improved simply by giving their younger players playing time and aging time. If only you played in the AL Central Baltimore, you could finish in a closer to the top expensive third place.

Comments:
what happened to the white sox starters with loaiza and baldwin both having all-star seasons to then completely fall off the face of the earth in comparison...since when did the oriole bullpen become so vaunted? the reason why kline is being so warmly welcomed is because of how much he is needed, the orioles had no problem with scoring runs and of course their rotation was their most glaring weakness but it wasnt like the bullpen did not blow its fair share of leads put up by the offense, you had to beat the '04 orioles 8-6 with that softball lineup...when trades are made it is always easy to say that a change in scenery will positively effect but in the case of sammy i honestly believe sosa will striaghten up under the leadership of tejada and will have a season that you would like to associate with slammin sammy, oh and remember when dan duquette didnt trade nixon for sosa? good no trade with the paths the two careers have taken...with the oriole lineup you have to ask yourself if palmeiro can keep producing as he is now another year older and is there any way in hell that mora can come even close to the out of his mind season he had last year but with tejada, lopez, sosa you arent too bad off...ponson had a dogshit season last year but you would like to expect a strong comeback year out of the supposed ace of the staff...at least against the sox lopez appeared to be a world beater and in truth he performed well against the rest of the league as well, maybe he can take another positive step in '05...and for the rest of the staff goes if you are an orioles fan you must simply cross your fingers and hope for the best
 
The Orioles bullpen isn't vaunted, it is just that Buddy Groom was capable of getting out lefties and B.J. Ryan is capable of striking out Jesus on occasion. Their bullpen is/was more of a strength than their rotation at least, probably should have said it that way.
 
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