Bob Haynie: For The Orioles, It Is Not All Doom And Gloom
As pitchers and catchers get ready to report to Sarasota on Thursday, the Baltimore Orioles are still trying to secure that elusive veteran starting hurler. We’ve heard the names: Bronson Arroyo, A.J. Burnett, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Suk-min Yoon. Arroyo is gone to Arizona while the others are still looking for work. Will the Orioles sign one of them? If I had to guess, it would be Yoon. Of course, he has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues and has had shoulder issues in the past.
Closer Jim Johnson was shipped off to Oakland for infielder Jemile Weeks in the offseason. I still believe the Birds did not get fair compensation in that deal. After their failed attempt to sign Grant Balfour, Baltimore did not bring in a replacement for Johnson, who saved over 100 games for them over the course of the last two seasons.
Outfielder David Lough was acquired from the Kanas City Royals in the Danny Valencia trade. So far, that’s been the blockbuster transaction that the warehouse has made.
We all know that the Orioles have been relatively quiet with the big moves since the 2013 season came to an end and that has not gone over well with fans and media alike. They’ve made more news with their physicals then they’ve made with player acquisitions.
All seems lost. Right?
I’m not saying that the Birds are going to win the American League East. They will, however, be better than some will think.
Pitcher Chris Tillman, 1B Chris Davis, SS J.J. Hardy, 3B Manny Machado and CF Adam Jones were AL All-Stars in 2013. All five of them still play in Baltimore. I know it may be asking too much of Davis to duplicate 53 HR’s and 138 RBI’s but, I think 40 and 100 is very realistic. Hardy has settled into being one of the best all-around shortstops in baseball while Tillman, Machado and Jones have yet to reach their peak.
Machado, even if he misses the start of the season, will continue to blossom as a possible superstar.
I expect RF Nick Markakis to have his best season in a while and C Matt Wieters to have an All-Star campaign.
Of course, the Orioles have some big questions that still need to be answered. Will Machado be ready for Opening Day? If not, who’s on second? Who’s the DH? Can Lough and Nolan Reimold be a productive duo in LF? Can Tommy Hunter close games? Do they have five quality big league starting pitchers? Are they done making roster additions?
I’m ready to start getting the answers. Baseball is right around the corner and I think the Orioles will be fun to watch during the 2014 season.
Then again, I picked Atlanta and Houston to play in the Super Bowl and Maryland to make the NCAA men’s hoops tournament.
There is a chance I could be wrong.