Reporting Bob Haynie
Orioles’ pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota on February 18th and the only thing certain about this year’s club is the uncertainty.
Well, after 14 consecutive losing seasons, a last place finish in AL East may be a certainty. But I digress.
New GM Dan Duquette says the goal for the 2012 Birds is a .500 record. That sounds great until you look at the roster.
The starting rotation is a mess. When it comes to arms, the quantity is there. Is there quality? That remains to be seen. The optimist in me says yes. The pessimist (realist?) says not a lot.
Newcomers Wei-Yin Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada and Jason Hammel will figure into the mix for sure. Right-hander Tommy Hunter is predicted, by some, to be the leading candidate to start Opening Day. Youngsters Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta will get their chance to make the rotation also.
A year ago, left-hander Brian Matusz was considered by many to be the future ace of the staff. In 2012, Matusz may have a hard time making the team out of spring training.
His regression in 2011 was–to me–the story of the year for Baltimore.
In the bullpen, Jim Johnson looks to be the closer. Kevin Gregg had the job last season and lost it. He could be traded before they leave Florida.
Actually, the ‘pen doesn’t look that bad, on paper. But with this starting staff, these gentlemen may be overworked by June.
With Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds and Matt Wieters, the lineup has some pop. Second baseman Brian Roberts is still trying to recover from a concussion. Because of this, the Orioles lack a true leadoff hitter. Here’s hoping he can make it back.
RF Nick Markakis had abdominal surgery in January and hopes to ready for Opening Day. Markakis is a good ballplayer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as though he will blossom into a star.
The Orioles were the only team in the AL East to finish below .500 in 2011. Can they surprise us all and be respectable for six months? Man, I would love for that to happen.
Forgive me, however, if I don’t get my hopes up.