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Early Orioles Roster Predictions

former Orioles reliever Chad BradfordFirst, in case you missed it: former Oriole Chad Bradford had elbow surgery and will be on the shelf for three to four months. It kind of makes that whole “player to be named, whose name is cash” fiasco a little less…fiascoish.

Now, remember that Orioles spring training preview I did last year? I got invited to do it again for ’09 and turned in my report tonight. It was, as you might imagine, not easy.

I’ll link the whole piece when it goes live, but in the meantime I thought I’d post my predictions for the Opening Day roster. I can already feel the fault lines.

Rotation (in order): Guthrie, Uehara, Hill, Waters, Penn
Bullpen: Hendrickson (long man); Sarfate, Johnson, Walker, Parrish (middle); Sherrill and Ray (8th and 9th)
Lineup/Batting Order: Roberts, Mora, Markakis, Scott (DH), Huff (1B), Jones, Zaun, Pie, Izturis
Bench: Freel, Gomez, Wigginton, backup catcher TBD

I had to make some tough decisions here, and it’s admittedly a lot of educated guessing. Before a single pitch is thrown, though, this feels to me like the best 25.

A few notes:

1. It wouldn’t surprise me to see either Penn or Waters in the bullpen.
2. I can see Jamie Walker failing to make the team altogether, but my gut says he gets in.
3. Wigginton will get plenty of time, and I know that.
4. We don’t really know what we’ll get out of Ray, but I’m assuming he’s back to pre-injury form.

The debate will rage on, for sure. No time like the present to get started.

(photo via)

11 comments to Early Orioles Roster Predictions

  • Tomás

    What about Baez? Don’t they still owe him money or do you think they’ll cut him off ala Gibbons if he (along with Walker) fails to make the lineup? And isn’t Pauley, and I think one other, out of options so they can’t send them down to the minors? Just curious.

  • neal s

    You’re right on both counts, Tomás. I’m guessing that Baez gets cut, and that Pauley just gets beaten out. I’d imagine they’ll try to pass him through wavers at that point.

    That said, it wouldn’t really surprise me if both Pauley and Baez make the team. Although I’d be a little worried then because it would mean that better pitchers failed to perform.

    The other pitcher (at least the big one) who’s out of options is Penn.

  • random dude

    As for the lineup, I would put Jones in the 2 hole. I know he isn’t a typical #2 hitter right now, but he’s one of our future pieces that we’re building around. I want him hitting in between our two best batters so he sees the best pitches. It would also force some discipline on him since I’m sure he’d be getting the take sign quite a lot to let Roberts run more. It might not be the best for run production THIS year, but I think it would help Jones mature more quickly, and wouldn’t be that big of a dropoff.

    Roberts, Jones, Markakis, Huff, Scott/Wiggington, Mora, Wieters (Zaun would bat 9th and slide the last two up), Izturis, Pie/Freel

  • rick

    Neal, your lineup, and the subsequent comments all have great measures of sense and rationale.

    Naturally, the great unknown is the quality of our starting pitching. The rotation as listed is really iffy. However, ya’ never know. The young guys all have excellent potential, so here’s hoping they can put it all together and turn in consistently excellent outings.

  • sci

    I really hesitate to say this for fear of it all blowing up in my face, but I’m getting very optimistic about the future of this team. There are two more development years for this team, I think. This year is obviously a place-holder year for the rotation. You can’t expect a whole lot from that bunch, but I bet we find that at least one of the group A (for convenience) of Hennessey, Pauley, Hill, Penn, Waters, and Liz is legit. Meaning a totally solid 4 or 5. We’ll find that Uehara is a decent #3 or 4, and that Guthrie is confirmed as a real #2.

    Then next year at least two of the group AA of Patton, Arrieta, Matusz, Tillman, and Spoone (with perhaps a few others) will establish themselves as legit (with some growing pains of course). This means that the 2011 rotation is (potentially) Guthrie, two from group AA, Uehara (or similar veteran), and one from group A. Total guesswork, but you get my point. A legit rotation. The bullpen will be fine, b/c any young pitcher who doesn’t totally work in the rotation can go there.

    Then in terms of position players, the outfield is potentially golden for years. Catcher is set. Infield is still a problem, but I say sign Roberts long-term, and then we really start drafting there and/or trading some surplus pitching (which we will def have) for infield prospects. We make one or two big free agent signings in the infield in 2010/11, and presto – a playoff contender.

    Wow. Am I being too optimistic?

  • @sci – You are NOT being optimistic. I am trying to find the best “long odds” on the Orioles making the playoffs so I can cash IN.

    @ Neal – your predictions seem pretty dead on. I see the O’s giving Penn the 5th spot in a “yours to lose” situation before they would consider Hendrickson or Pauley.

    As for the five year old tainted piss, I don’t “feel bad” for these slumdog millionaire ball players, but I do feel like their celebrity status is leading to some very shady ‘witch hunt’ elements to this whole story.

  • Andrew

    If I were in charge of the roster/lineup/rotation composition, I would try to keep Pauley around. I mean, no sense in just letting him go play for the Padres or whoever if we don’t give him at least a real, honest-to-goodness shot at pitching.

    Anyway, my best guess at the final spots:

    Guthrie-Uehara-Hill-Pauley-Waters

    Although Pauley and Penn are interchangable, as are Hennessey and Waters, and I’m just praying that Hill doesn’t explode in Spring Training or something, otherwise we’ll have to switch him and Henrickson.

    Hendrickson-Johnson-Walker-Penn-Sarfate-Ray-Sherrill

    I can’t picture Parrish making the team, honestly. I assume he’ll be up soon enough, but out of Spring Training? I’m guessing no.

    Roberts-Jones-Markakis-Huff-Scott/Wigginton-Mora-Pie-Zaun-Izturis.

    Hopefully it’s Roberts-Jones-Markakis-Huff-Scott/Wigginton-Wieters-Mora-Pie-Izturis before June.

    And that’s a damn good bench constructed there. Too bad benches don’t really set the tone for seasons.

  • dan the man

    One x-factor to consider is the fact that MacPhail himself made mention of the fact that the club is going to get a look at Wigginton and Freel at shortstop in ST. It’s a long shot that they decide either of them are capable of playing the position (though why wouldn’t Freel be able to, considering his speed and arm strength), but if they do you have an extra pitching spot.

    I agree with Andrew’s rotation, although I’m not completely convinced on Waters, seeing as he has options. But I do think Penn will be in the bullpen, Baez will be cut, and Parrish will be the first called up if one of Waters, Hendrickson, or Walker fail.

    The guy of course that’s being left out for now is Matt Albers. He’s better than most of the guys we just named, but it seems everyone has the same idea that either his shoulder explodes or if not, he’ll get innings at AAA for awhile to see what’s up.

  • dan the man

    Speaking of Baez, doesn’t it kind of seem like MacPhail is trying to purge the roster of The Overpaid Three? He sells Bradford, who promptly gets injured. Walker is a tentative roster spot at best, and he’s been injured. And Baez was injured and ineffective. Baez’s and Walker’s days are numbered, I think.

  • neal s

    @sci – You’re definitely not being overly optimistic. The Plan is right where it should be right now, and we’re still on track to contend either next year or in 2011. A lot can happen, obviously, but so far, so good.

    And as I noted in that email, this group of guys figures to be a fun one to watch this year. I’m not going to go so far as to predict a winning season, but at the very least I don’t think they’ll make us suffer.