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2012 Orioles: Prediction Time

Spring Training is just about over and the 25 men who will head north to face the Twins on Friday are basically set. The Birdland trolley is gassed up and ready to move. Baseball season is here.

Which makes now a great time to reiterate my philosophy for the season: No Expectations, Just Baseball.

The more I think about it the more liberating that idea becomes. I honestly can’t remember another season like this one, where the Orioles enter the year carrying virtually no baggage. Last season’s colossal disappointment — coming as it did on the heels of so many seasons of disappointment — cleansed the palate. Literally any success this year is gravy. There’s no longer any such thing as being let down. All we have left is the experience and what we bring to it.

Which, I suppose, begs one more question: what do we bring to it?

If we’re smart the answer is, “nothing more than our love of this team and this game.” Of course some will no doubt disagree with me and lament the team’s continued state of relative disrepair. I don’t begrudge that opinion, but I do caution against it. There’s nothing productive in continued lamentation, neither for the team nor for the soul of the actor.

Even with that said, predictions are fun to make. Rarely fun to revisit, of course, but always fun to make. So with that in mind, here are a few of mine in hopes that you’ll be inspired to make a few of your own.

At least one young pitcher will surprise us by maturing.

I think it’d be almost impossible for this not to happen. The Cavalry was the Cavalry for a reason and I think we’ll see at least a hint of that this year.

We’ll continue to be reminded of how lucky we are to have Jones, Wieters, and Markakis.

Those three — in that order — would all be perceived much more favorably than they are if they played on winning teams. We’re lucky to have them (even Markakis, from whom I predict a rebound).

Dan Duquette will do something weird.

I think we, as fans, are really underestimating this guy’s capacity to do some crazy shit. I don’t know what form it will take but I think he’ll have us scratching our heads at some point.

These Orioles will not be boring.

First thing you want is wins. If they’re not coming by the bucketful and you still want some baseball the next best thing is that your team not put you to sleep. I don’t think this year’s O’s will disappoint in that regard.

And finally, the record.

I don’t think there’s any way they end up worse than last year’s 69-93 mark. I’m not so crazy, however, that I’m going to predict .500 or better. I believe they’ll settle in at something like 74 wins (74-88). Still not where we want them to be but somewhat better than last year and, hopefully, headed in something that resembles the right direction. Hope — in that regard and that regard only — springs eternal.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think we’ll see this year, and where do you think we’ll end up record-wise? I’m actually really curious here. I have a hunch this might be the first time that nobody suggests .500. But maybe I’m wrong?

15 comments to 2012 Orioles: Prediction Time

  • Mike R

    “My prediction…PAIN!”
    -Mr.T

  • Jeffrey Duncan

    I’m ready to eat shit. Warm it up for me.

  • Miles

    .500 – because my glasses are black-and-orange tinted.

    The good:
    *Arrieta becomes a beast, and starts to approach the form the Erik Bedard left in (the strike outs and wins, not the decimated shoulder)
    *Wieters hits 30 home runs. Hardy regresses a little bit, but still performs strong. Jones and Markakis both win another gold glove.
    *Nick Johnson surprises everyone with one last hurrah, hits around .290 with an OBP over .400 and 20 home runs as DH.

    The bad:
    *Zach Britton’s shoulder
    *Jason Hammel in the rotation, period.
    *Mark Reynolds’ weight loss doesn’t improve his defense, but cuts his home run total.

    The ugly:
    *What my Nationals-loving friend refers to as “Inning-Endy Chavez”, hitting into double play after double play.

  • sci

    71-91. We will NOT have a worse record than last year. (If anyone wants to wager against me on that, I am willing.)

    I sense breakout years from Jones and Wieters and a really good year from Hardy. I sense good (but not necessarily great) years from Matusz and Arrieta, barring injury. I sense disaster from the rest of the rotation. Hammel should not be in a decent ML rotation. Chen is a complete unknown at this point. Hunter is an OK 5th starter. I’m praying for Britton to get healthy asap. If he can return within a month or two and have a good year, that kind of changes everything.

    This first base/DH platoon of Johnson/Davis/Betemit is cracking me up. It’s potentially epically bad.

    The amount of negativity/apathy for this team is overwhelming, both in town and nationally. We could sit and dissect the reasons for it ad infinitum, but that has just become boring, as they are the same reasons as they have always been. It really is time (at least for me) to just say screw it and enjoy each positive as it comes.

  • df1570

    If we’re lucky, they’ll go 51-111 and we can finally see the whole thing collapse.

    If that happens, perhaps then – and only then – will the current ownership group fully understand that they’ve wrecked the franchise beyond repair.

    Then, we hope, a new owner would possibly surface, bringing along a real GM and starting the process of rebuilding the Orioles from a laughingstock to a reputable organization.

    So I’m all for 51 wins.

    Make it 52. That’s a special number in Baltimore, after all.

    52-110.

    Come on baseball gods…hear us.

  • dan the man

    While I can’t deny part of me wants what Drew wants, I don’t let myself go there until I sense another June/July swoon.

    No – this is the year, folks. This is the year the O’s stop the losing streak at 14. They will break .500 – barely. And September is going to be the most fun we’ve had in a long time, I predict.

    I said that last year, too. The thing is, last year I think I actually believed it. I’m putting much less emotion into my apologist prediction this year, because I don’t really have any expectations going into the season. I do think, however, there’s enough talent on this team to crack .500. It’s going to be up to injuries and whether or not young guys improve.

  • Andrew

    @ df1570:
    Agreed, outside of digs at the folks running the show right now. A seriously bad season is (a) more realistic than a good one, and (b) would at least set up the Orioles unequivocally as rebuilding instead of the neither-this-nor-that that they’ve been stuck in for a few years now.

  • Os Fan

    I love the optimism in this article, but didn’t we all feel this way last year? Yes, last year was a disaster of epic proportions for a long list of reasons, but if the Orioles management isn’t going to realize the current team (despite having some quality players on it) has zero chemistry, this year is bound to be another huge disappointment, if not another embarrassing disaster.

    There is zero emotion in the Orioles dug out during games. It’s as if players are content to collect a paycheck, and as long as they don’t lose 50 games the season is a success.

    As a fan who has followed the Orioles for 30 years now, I’m done. Until Management tries to makes some moves to create a team with some passion and some firepower, I’ll be watching other teams play this season. To bring back almost the same squad after the last two years is an insult to anyone considering buying tickets to Orioles games.

    But there is hope — Orioles management has to break up this losing team and try something new. Follow the example of the Tampa team and bring in young, hungry, fired-up players who fight for every at bat.

    I’m sorry, but 4th place or 3rd place, an improvement? Am I the only one who remembers the Os teams from the 80s and the legendary teams of the 70s? This “4th place is gravy” mentality is a killer. The Orioles have become the worst team in baseball because of this philosophy.

    But I grew up with the team, so I certainly wish them the best, and if they are in the playoff hunt this year I’ll be the first person to eat crow and cheer at the games. But given the seemingly total lack of interest in trying to put together a dynamic team after last year’s debacle, I’m not very hopeful for the future of the Orioles franchise. Nice job, Peter Angelos.

  • Os Fan

    @ Os Fan:

    I meant as long as they “win” 50 games the season is a success. :-)

    And seriously, it would be a success wouldn’t it. It’s still last place, whether it’s 50wins or 60 wins. My how the times have changed for the Orioles.

  • Os Fan

    @ sci:

    I agree with putting on a positive face during the season, and finding something positive even when the Orioles are the worst team in baseball, but I see nothing wrong with people saying now before the season starts: why? Why are we seeing the same team that was the worst team in baseball the last two years in a row on the field again? It’s embarrassing. They are all great guys, but not together — there is no team chemistry.

    Are there no pitchers out there Orioles management can bring in to TRY and turn things around? It just appears management does not care.

    I’m still hopeful, but my god, can you all remember the last time an Orioles/Yankees game actually MEANT something — meaning the O’s and the Yanks were fighting for a pennant? We have the Orioles fighting for 4th place to look forward to this year? Count me out.

    Oh well, Clearly the Orioles team is Peter Angelos’ expensive little toy, if he’s not going to try and invest in the team and compete with the Yankees and Red Sox, more folks in the area are just going to start following the Nationals. I’m going out to buy a Nats hat now, the moves made by the team to improve the team in 2012 are a joke.

    But I do respect all the players, class acts, so I’d love to see someone in the dug out take on a leadership role and turn things around.

  • I disagree. I think they will be boring. quite boring, in fact.

    59-103.

  • dan the man

    Os Fan wrote:

    There is zero emotion in the Orioles dug out during games. It’s as if players are content to collect a paycheck, and as long as they don’t lose 50 games the season is a success.

    I hate this point. I’m sorry, it’s a bad point. You obviously aren’t paying attention to the team if you really think this. And furthermore, if you really think that what you perceive via television is the reality in the dugout. As if you would know the dynamic based on what you see during a MASN broadcast.

    I’d wager if you watch any team in baseball, guys are generally laid back, excited after big moments, on the dugout steps supporting their team, etc. All of that took place last year.

    And of course, game 162.

  • neal s

    @ dan the man: To be fair, I do think there naturally comes a point in any bad season where guys are just worn down. But you’re right that sporadic glimpses of the dugout during a TV broadcast are no way to judge much of anything.

    @ The Baltimore Chop: Let me be clear what I mean by not boring here. I don’t mean necessarily that the baseball will always be good, I just mean that with no expectations we’re free to enjoy this for what it is, and I think it’s going to be weird and often fun. Maybe that means more laughing at them than with them but, hey, it’s all part of the ride.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    yeah we’re in prison but at least it aint boring. the cement b-ball court looks pretty okay through our 5″ x 7″ dirty plexiglass viewfinder.

  • Os Fan

    Re: Orioles dugout

    dan the man: “I hate this point. I’m sorry, it’s a bad point. You obviously aren’t paying attention to the team if you really think this.”

    I respect your opinion, but here’s what I saw last year. I’ll pick two divisional teams: the Yankees and the Red Sox. The Yankees dugout is always fired-up, guys are into the game, exchanging ideas, they refuse to lose. In fact, they don’t know how to lose. Losing pisses them off and they find ways to win. Every game.

    Same with the Red Sox. Failure is not an option to those guys, they drive each other, they inspire each other, they are into every pitch. They also don’t know how to lose and when it happens they get angry and they figure out a way to get better and win games.

    I don’t see this in the Orioles dugout. Yes, I know several of the players “keep their emotions inside,” and that can work for some teams, but it is not working for the Orioles. Many times I see a bunch of loners sitting apart from each other in the Os dugout, silent, staring forward blankly.

    To make matters worse, the Orioles are a team who knows how to lose. They are used to it. They are losing experts. If someone in that dugout doesn’t stand up and say, “Hey, this has to stop! We have to change, we have to figure out ways to win!” it’s going to be another last place season. Some of the players (and I’m talking two or three of them) need to step up and be vocal team leaders, every single game. I just don’t see that on the Os.

    And of course I undersand that when you are the worst team in baseball, it’s hard to get fired-up for every game — clealy the Yankees and Red Sox know they have a chance to be World Champions and that explains their passion — but right now, I would rather see a coach who won at the college level come into the Orioles organization as the manager and bring in a bunch of fired-up 20 year-old-kids who live and die with every pitch. Even if it turned into the MLB version of the Bad News Bears and the season was a disaster, at least that would be FUN! At least the Orioles would be trying something new. Right now we’re looking at a rerun of last year.

    As I mentioned, the real problem here is that clearly Peter Angelos has no interest in putting up the money to field a competitive team so as long as he is in control, I don’t see much hope if you are an Os fan that wants to see the team play really great ball the way they did when they won those World Championships. It’s too bad that Baltimore has to be a city where we have the worst owner in professional sports destroying what once was one of the best franchises in all of sports. It’s not fun.

    But I do wish the Os the best. They are a great group of individuls, but they are not even close to being a good team.