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Lessons From Spring Training 2010

Not Much (In Many Ways)

With a couple of (frustrating) games between us and the end of Spring Training, we can look back with a nostalgic eye for the days when we were gnawing our teeth about the  struggles of some key players like Matt Wieters, Kevin Millwood, Brad Bergesen, Nolan Reimold, Jeremy Guthrie, and Nick Markakis. Markakis in particular got some venom for his appalling zero walks…but then showed us how foolish we all were by taking three already in the first two games. And once again we learn the important chronic lesson that Spring Training obviously counts for nothing.

We Might Have a Roberts Problem

Players with Brian Roberts’ composition generally don’t age the way you wish they would, and with Brian starting a big contract at 32 I was moderately concerned. That was before Roberts was sidelined with a back injury which he reportedly still hasn’t completely healed from. There’s no way to know how it’s going to affect Roberts in the short or long term, but the risk in his big contract (not to mention the risk of losing his production) just crashed through the roof.

Felix Pie’s Growing Up

The position player who looked by far the best in Spring was none other than the same guy who once forgot to throw the ball back into the infield. Yes, no matter who you ask everyone seems to think that Pie just looks like a baseball player ready to start to meet some of his great potential this season. With Nolan Reimold gimpy and not playing the best left field at the moment, Pie has the opportunity to put a deathgrip on the everyday job. Now, if only he could stay healthy and start to hit left-handers…

Brian Matusz is the AL’s It Boy

He doesn’t quite have the hype of Jason Heyward or Matt Wieters, but the national story about the Orioles was Matusz’s absolutely sensational spring, putting him into the unlikely positional of AL East pitcher as Rookie of the Year favorite. He certainly has me eating crow about opposing his promotion last fall, and I’m more excited to see what he does tonight in the Trop than I was even for Opening Night.

Tejada’s Working Hard

Miguel Tejada’s first tour of duty in Baltimore was, as they say on the Facebook, complicated. There’s no reason to get into the past, but how refreshing has it been to hear about Tejada working his tail off at third base getting ready for his most challenging season yet? I’m not sure what his defensive year is going to look like when all is said and done, and I suspect that none of us are going to be willing to accept that it was less than outstanding after we’ve all seen the sweat poured into the job, but I am cautiously confident that Tejada can and will put up some solid objective numbers.

Beautiful Sarasota

Finally, even I – who was admittedly an icy curmudgeon all spring – can’t help but admit that the move to Sarasota has all the workings of a beautiful friendship. The staff, media, players, minor leaguers, and fans were all absolutely ecstatic and with good reason. And with the very talented Janet Marie Smith working to put up something truly beautiful, the Orioles are finally, truly trending upward in Florida. Will it help on the field in the regular season? Will it help bring in big time free agents? I can’t say, but I also cannot deny progress when I see progress, and I see progress.


4 comments to Lessons From Spring Training 2010

  • dan the man

    Agreed all around, nice round-up.

    Even though some may say it’s not great facing your rivals more often now that we’re in Sarasota, I say why not get right into it with the Big Three starting in March? The young guys need to feel like this is their division and that they can compete with the big boys. Personally, I like that we didn’t face the freakin’ Marlins and Nats 20 times and then get slapped in the face with the Rays, Yankees, and Sox right out of the gate.

    On the Tejada thing, it’s just nice to see him be a role player rather than the star player. It just feels right him being merely a piece of the offensive puzzle and he probably feels a little more comfortable, too.

    On last night, as it had already been said in the open thread, it was just about Garza. The kid is nasty. Particularly, I don’t know if anyone else noticed this, but when facing lefties (ahem.. Luke), his stuff looked similar to a lefty pitching against a lefty. His fastball seemed to run away from lefties and it was just nasty.

    Nice RBI double from Atkins, who is currently staying any real criticism by at least hitting a two-bagger in each game so far.

    Roberts looks rusty, but we knew that coming in. Nolan looked kind of a fool in left field last night, but it’s hard to say if Pie would have caught those balls, either. General consensus is probably, I would think. All in all, though, you have to be somewhat pleased with the performances. Especially Guthrie – although the one asterisk is that he always pitches well against Tampa.

  • Andrew

    I had forgot to mention that another lesson learned is that at least the Orioles and Rays aren’t real happy with the unbalanced schedule. It’s sort of silly, making Kevin Millwood throw against minor leaguers in a weird attempt to hide a veteran pitcher from the Yankee/Boston/Tampa hitters, but it does go to show that playing these guys 500 times every year is just not cool.

    Doubt anything gets done because of it, but the seeds of discontent are there for the lesser teams that need every small advantage possible.

  • Tomás

    Sorry to go off topic, but went to the Dodgers/Pirates game last night @ PNC Park and wanted to give my observations while I still had time and remembered them.

    – nice stadium, obviously

    – surprisingly non-douchy fans considering it is Pittsburgh. they were very low-key the entire time and most were wearing Pens jerseys, you know just in case the players got bored and a game of hockey breaks out during the 7th inning stretch. only booing was during mandatory booing time whenever Manny got up to bat. overall, they weren’t bad at all, it just felt kinda surreal, more like watching a game in your living room with ~30,000 other people.

    – beer was ridiculously expensive, $5-7 for I swear were 8 oz. cups, and instead of discouraging drunk driving by stopping beer sales during the 8th inning or so, they actually advertised “post-game happy hour” HALF PRICE beer for 2 HOURS following the game. but then again this is the city that gave us Big Ben on his motorcycle, so go fig.

    Oh, and geaux Os!

  • @ Tomás:

    I went to PNC last summer. Great park, beautiful view of Pittsburgh’s skyline. Totally dug it.