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An Orioles “What If?” Worth Considering

I remain steadfast in my commitment to a No False Hope doctrine for the Baltimore Orioles circa 2012. No blind predictions of a stronger-than-reasonable record, no convoluted strings of “if this, then that” scenarios. Like I’ve said before: this year’s about the love. Enjoying the baseball and enjoying everything that comes with it, moment by moment. Nothing more until proven otherwise.

That said (you knew there was a “that said” coming)…

I do think there is one “what if?” scenario that merits serious consideration. A little bit, anyway. And it’s this: what if the young pitchers who were once considered prospects — speaking here mostly of Britton, Arrieta, Matusz, and to a lesser extent Tillman — actually start to live up to their billing?

It wasn’t so long ago that Knowledgeable Baseball People considered all of these guys legit. We had justifiably high hopes for them. We’re not talking about Sean Douglass or Rick Bauer here, which is to say we didn’t have to trick ourselves into seeing the potential. These are players who, at one point, would have been welcomed into virtually any MLB organization.

I think that fact has amplified our disappointment and, to some extent, clouded our vision. It’s routine for young pitchers to go through periods of adjustment, often more than once. That process is what separates stars from competent major leaguers and competent major leaguers from ineffective journeyman. Right now I think our mood is sour enough that we’re all inclined to see ineffective journeyman when, in fact, that book isn’t yet written.

I don’t have any illusions that any of the aforementioned players — or anyone else, actually — is ticketed for stardom. It’s possible, sure, but I’m not exactly counting on it. But what if one of them becomes a two and the others become threes or fours? That’d not only lead to a few more wins, it’d suddenly create the capability to deal from a position of strength.

This could happen in 2012. It could. Not saying it will, but it’s not a crazy thought.

(photo via Flickr user Keith Allison)

7 comments to An Orioles “What If?” Worth Considering

  • ryan97ou

    it’s the one thing that i keep telling myself is that there is no way those guys can all be as bad as they were last year. i feel like last year was a perfect storm of rookie slumps/injuries and hopefully at least one or two of them rebound from that.

  • dan the man

    There’s plenty of Kool Aid to go around for the Cavalry:

    -Matusz: in great shape, renewed focus, healthy.
    -Tillman: Palmer says he was 93-96 in an intrasquad game.
    -Arrieta: elbow feels best it’s ever felt after bone spur surgery
    -Bergesen: reverted to an old reliable windup and pitched 2 nice innings yesterday

    Only Britton has nothing like that attached to him, although his shoulder injury seems to be doing well.

  • Mike R

    Dylan Bundy, in his first spring action, faces Ellsbury, Pedroia, A-Gon. Walked Pedroia, no hits, scoreless inning. 15 pitches, 7 strikes.

    Welcome to the big leagues kid, eh? I’m not clammering for him to start on opening day, but my guess is he’ll be the best pitcher on the team when camp wraps up.

  • dan the man

    @ Mike R:
    He’ll be in the minor league camp in a couple weeks – long before the major league camp wraps up. But it was great to see that he got guys like Ellsbury and Gonzalez out. Excited for him, but I kind of don’t want to hear his name for another 2 years, and then let’s talk.

  • Mike R

    @ dan the man:
    I agree. At least lets see how this year goes in the minors. Extremely small sample size. But, the scouting report appears to spot on. What we have heard about him looks to be true…for once.

    I still think he’s the best pitcher on the team, which says a lot about our pitchers.

  • dan the man

    @ Mike R:
    It’s quite possible, although I want to see how Britton does in a game. I think he’s still the top arm if he’s healthy. Anxious to see Arrieta, too.

    Matusz looked alright, but he was 91mph in the 1st inning and back to 87mph in the 2nd inning, so that’s a little frustrating.

  • PW

    Bundy is exciting, but 7 strikes in 15 pitches needs to get better. Less than 50% strikes is not going to cut it.

    The pitching has looked good thus far but its really early so I’m not going to get too excited.