Well, I'm going to play teacher this morning and assign grades the best I can to the Oriole players on the squad.
Some are going to like what I have said, and the grades I have issued, some are not.
That being said, let's begin.
We all know that the Orioles have more or less sucked this season, and this winter will be nothing short of critical in charting the course of the franchise in the future.
Today, I'll be doing the infield starters.
First Baseman, Kevin Millar
2007 Numbers: .254, 17 HR, 63 RBI, .365 OBP, .420 SLG, 140 games
Kevin Millar did as expected, in my mind. He's nothing great, but he helped the team a lot in July and August with his bat and then wilted in September. I think he's a suitable first baseman, but these days, the first base position is a premier offensive slot and the Orioles are surely weak there. He'll be back next year as he's surpassed the number of appearances in his contract to trigger the option.
He's an on-base-percentage machine, and he breaking the club record of consecutive games where a player got on base is indicative of his ability.
Millar is a great clubhouse guy, and a fan favorite; however, if I had my way, I'd like to see what's out there before slotting him back into first base.
Second Baseman, Brian Roberts
2007 Numbers: .290 AVG, 12 HR, 57 RBI, 50 SB, .377 OBP, .432 SLG
Brian is no doubt one of the faces of the organization through his charity work and interaction with the fans, and his 2007 season was solid and he's proven that he's been able to come back from the gruesome injury he suffered 2 years ago in New York.
He's a good all around player with speed, power and hits for average. Roberts did a great job at the leadoff spot in the order and was rewarded with a All-Star appearance.
He wilted towards the end, and it looks like he's grown frustrated with the losing; however, he's shown a willingness to perhaps tough things out and see where it goes. Brian looked tired towards the end, and perhaps struggled with some ailments along with the everyday rigors of playing baseball.
Whether he should be traded is another topic, but I think if the Orioles consider his age (almost 30) to be an issue and do a full rebuilding program, he might be a name (to the sadness of some fans) that could be moved.
Miguel Tejada, Shortstop
2007 Numbers: .296 AVG, 18 HR, 81 RBI, .357 OBP, .442 SLG
On September 30th, Miguel Tejada might have played his last game in Baltimore. Overall, his numbers have been solid; however, they have slipped from when he first came to the Orioles. He's been the big bopper in the Baltimore lineup, always hit for average and has served as an important cog in the lineup.
Although he missed more than a month due to a wrist injury that ended his consecutive game streak, his 2007 numbers are in line of what expect from Miguel Tejada.
He's faced a lot of criticism for his play in the field, his fielding and perhaps more detrimental, his attitude in the press along with his waffling of being traded and actually wanting to stay with the organization.
I say he's traded at some point -- for young talent.
I said this on Oriole Magic: "It looks like the Orioles are going to rebuild and this time, it may be a slow process from the bottom all the way up, rather than adding pieces here or there. Honestly, if we are going to pay a guy $12-13 million dollars, we need to be contending and the pieces need to be around that player. There’s no point paying him all that money if we are not going to be competitive.
Sadly, I don’t see him staying, and if he does, it’s only because he could not be moved or the Orioles did not try hard enough. He needs to go for the good of the team, and we could possibly get some prospects in return."He was a productive bat, but his attitude and sometimes lack of motivation got to him. His play has cost us games, and I say either trade him or hopefully he accepts a position change.
Melvin Mora, Third Base
2007 Numbers: .274 AVG, 14 HR, 58 RBI, .341 OBP, .418 SLG
Melvin did what I expected him to do; however, the question is does he move to left field or do we keep him at third?
Honestly, he's a much better third baseman than I expected in the long run and he is productive, but is he worth 8 million per year? As well, is he a tangible part of the future of the organization?
I say no on both counts. Another fan and organizational favorite, his numbers have dipped and keep on going south. Is this decline phase of his career, or is it just the matter of aging? Personally, I think they should try to deal him - but, um, oh yeah, he's got a "no trade clause". He might jump at a move, but with his family here and a life situated, he may not.
Still, in spite of the criticism, he's still got a mix of power and hits for average, so it's not like he's by far the worst player on the team; however, he's not the same guy he was in 2004 when he hit .340.
At this point, I expect him to be a .260-.290 hitter with some pop and the ability to drive in runs, and be situated at the bottom of the order -- nothing more.
Aubrey Huff, First/Third Base/DH
2007 Numbers: .280 AVG, 15 HR, 72 RBI, .337 OBP, .442 SLG
If not for his hot August/September, I would have considered him a monumental disappointment. Yes, I sort of alluded that he'd be good for a .280 average and provide Miguel protection, but for the first four months of the season, he was one of the subpar hitters on the team and was part of the problem, not the solution.
His offense picked up in the latter half of the season and that gave his numbers a big boost; however, he drove a lot of fans mad by not being there at the plate when the team needed him.
Not much of a fielder at third or first, he was signed basically for his bat. His numbers have gone down since he left Tampa Bay, but he was counted on doing a lot more for the team.
Honestly, he showed us in the last months of the season he can hit, but you cannot get hot when the grave has already been dug for the Orioles.
Not to say he was the problem in 2007, but he sure did not help things at all.