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Orioles: Inaction or Stability?

Baltimore-Orioles-Logo-3In listening to the various sports talk shows lately I’ve been struck by something that seems obvious but is kind of stunning in how different it is: the Orioles are entering the season without any major question marks. No giant holes in the lineup, no concerns about depth, no questions about whether or not there are enough viable candidates to field a rotation. For once, Spring Training doesn’t feel very dramatic.

Sure, there’s a concern about Brian Roberts. Flaherty and Casilla solve that. They’re not Roberts in his prime, but they’re fine if we need them.

Sure, the fifth starter role isn’t settled. The answer to that is the, oh, seven or so guys who could all win the job with a solid spring. Depth is good.

Beyond that, we have: one and maybe two solid players in left, a bona fide star in center, a very solid player in right, a young potential superstar at third, a very solid player at short, a star at catcher, a solid player at first, a deep bullpen coming off a great year, a solid group of starters (even if, granted, there’s no true ace), and a world-class manager.

And, like I said, no drama.

It is through this lens that we might cast a different light on the relatively quiet offseason. What if what some read as inaction or lack of improvement is, rather, simply stability?

I don’t think stability should be discounted as an ingredient for winning. Especially for a team like the Orioles, who for many years seemed to lack a core. It’s somewhat shocking to see them enter a season without a stack of what-ifs weighing down the nascent optimism.

None of which, admittedly, automatically translates into success. For once, though, I’m kind of relieved that things are quiet. It beats the alternative, at least until the games start counting.

10 comments to Orioles: Inaction or Stability?

  • dan the man

    First year in the last 15 years with legit expectations of at least 85 wins. I’m loving every minute of it.

    The starting pitching has so much more depth than a year ago at this time. We didn’t know if Hammel would be any good. We didn’t know if Chen could hack it in MLB. We had Tommy Hunter penciled in as a starter.

    Now we have what we at least perceive to be 4 solid starters in Hammel, Chen, Gonzo, and Tillman. Your fifth starter comes from a vast group of talented dudes with upsides far surpassing “the fifth starter”: Arrieta, Britton, Johnson, Matusz, Wada (eventually), Bundy, Gausman, McFarland, the handful of decent, young minor league free agents that were picked up (Redmond, Jurrjens, Russell). That’s huge.

  • dan the man

    Also, B-Rob looks much better than last year. Actually had time to work out this offseason and finally looks like a baseball player instead of a 12-year-old. I’m all in on B-Rob and Reimold, kool aid be damned. B-Rob won’t hit 40 doubles and steal 30 bags, but he’ll be solid while sharing time with Casilla.

  • sci

    It struck me yesterday how amazing the defense could be this year. Think about the typical lineup, assuming Roberts starts at 2B (or even Flaherty or Casilla really, who are both good fielders). McLouth LF, Jones CF, Markakis RF is one of the best defensive outfields in the league. Machado 3B, Hardy SS, Roberts 2B, Davis 1B is an excellent defensive infield, with Davis the only potential (somewhat) weak link. Then Wieters at C and you have one of the best defensive teams in the league, no doubt.

    The more I think about this team, the more optimistic I am for this year actually. So let the writers go ahead and predict us last in the division — it’s perfect. Potentially good, deep rotation, great bullpen, great defense, league average hitting at least (although I think folks are underestimating this lineup). It’s a very solid team — a contender. Nothing mind-blowing, just very good.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    i agree with all of that sci. also, judging by heart or “want to” i see it as a two way race between the o’s and rays honestly. i absolutely believe that the yanks and sox are like the albert belle era orioles teams and the jays’ method of free agent dart throwing has seldom worked, least of all in toronto. i just see a young hungry team with the best manager in baseball going out every day with a chip on its shoulder. watch out!

  • sci

    Great stuff by AJ, Dan.

    So the Vegas over/under on O’s wins is 78.5, and the Red Sox is 83?

    Let’s make some money on that.

  • sci

    My prediction for the AL East standings (based on nothing but gut feeling):

    Rays: 93 wins
    Jays: 90 wins
    O’s: 90 wins (one of these two gets the wild card)
    Yanks: 83 wins
    Boston: 78 wins

  • dan the man

    This is no longer the second-rate organization we used to know.

    One of many examples: http://baltimore.orioles.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130304&content_id=42249936&vkey=news_bal&c_id=bal

    We have Andy to thanks for getting this and the Sarasota facilities up and running, and Duquette and Brady Anderson for running with it.

    Complete culture change over the last 5 years.

  • dan the man

    Cannot recommend that article more. The O’s are ahead of the curve for once. It makes you believe even more that last year was not a fluke. Internally, things are finally being run properly.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    teixeira out 8 to 10 weeks with wrist injury. think about what the yankees will pay that fool and arod the next several years and laugh your ass off.