Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Baltimore Orioles Season Preview...

What a difference a year makes.

At this time last year, the Orioles were talking about getting better and perhaps making inroads to compete with Boston and New York down the road.

However, that’s now anything but the case. With ten losing seasons under their belt, a fan base that is completely disinterested along with national reputation for ineptitude, changes took place during the mid-point of the 2007 season and will so for the immediate future.

First off, the biggest change was that Andy MacPhail was hired in the summer of the previous season; second, Sam Perlozzo was fired mid-season and replaced with former coach Dave Trembley; third, perhaps the most successful pitching coach of generation, Leo Mazzone, was fired; finally, and perhaps most shocking (depending on your perspective), the Baltimore Orioles decided to start over and Peter Angelos for now seems to be on board.

Now, instead of perhaps wondering if Baltimore will finish .500, fans will wonder if they avoid losing 100 games. The name of the game now with this organization is the word, “rebuilding”, one that most never want to hear.

Furthermore, now the Orioles may be looking at the bottom of the division, a position once held annually by the improved Devil Rays.

Instead of acquiring players from the free agent market, the Orioles, under the tutelage of Andy MacPhail have decided the best way to rebuild is through trades and securing young talent. The big ticket item from several years ago, Miguel Tejada is gone, replaced by five players from the Houston Astros, headlined by Luke Scott and Troy Patton; meanwhile, a bigger move was made a just a week ago as left ace Erik Bedard was traded to the Seattle Mariners for five more players, with Adam Jones as the marquee name in the deal.

Granted, the roster has gone through an overhaul; however, are the Baltimore Orioles any better in 2008? The answer immediately would be no; alas, the goal is not to have a competitive team right now, but for the years ahead.

Needless, to say the Orioles have a lot of holes and they need several of their veterans to step up and contribute. Right now, the Orioles are weak in the areas of starting pitching, in the bullpen, and in the middle infield; however, the glaring problem is with some of the veterans who are in a steep decline or didn’t bother to put their maximum effort last season.

The tragedy of the Baltimore team in 2007 was the bullpen – yes, the $40+ million big ticket item. Aside from Jamie Walker who was solid as the left handed specialist along with Chad Bradford, things were a mess. Both Walker and Bradford were way over-used, thus over-exposed and the Orioles had to rely on youngsters from the lower levels and retreads from other teams to patch it up...

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