Who will man behind the plate?
Aside from Daniel Cabrera, one of the other guys who left me distressed during more than any other is Ramon Hernandez. Despite a year where he improved with the bat, his play as the starting catcher for the Orioles left very little to the imagination.
At times he lacked focus -- almost to the point where he was lazy -- others, he just seemed unable to block balls and showed very little hustle behind the plate.
For the reason alone, we might as well give someone else a shot -- Matt Wieters.
The guy's story of his time in the minors has become nothing but a folk legend amongst the most ardent of fans, so why not see if he can cut in the majors?
Will Matt Wieters be starting for the Orioles on Opening Day? And will there be any other significant Oriole prospects that may have a role on next year's team? -- Mike V., Rochester, N.Y.While I see where Spencer is coming from, I don't think the issue of service time should come into play -- especially when he have someone seemingly as talented as Wieters in the wings.
Wieters, who's on the short list for best prospects in baseball, represents an interesting quandary for the Orioles. If they bring him up on Opening Day -- and he's provided every indicator that he'll be ready by then -- they run the risk of losing him to free agency a full season earlier than they would if he spends the season's first month at Triple-A Norfolk.
That didn't bother the Orioles when their previous top prospect, right fielder Nick Markakis, took the team by storm in Spring Training. Baltimore elected to start Markakis in 2006 despite the fact that he had never played at Triple-A, and had just 33 games at Double-A under his belt. And after some initial struggles, he became one of the team's best players.With Wieters, the fifth overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, the Orioles may elect to play it safe. The catcher didn't sign until moments before the deadline to come to terms or go back to college, and Baltimore can expect a similar tussle when free agency rolls around. In this case, it pays to be careful, even if it means waiting an extra month.
However, the big issue is with Hernandez's contract. I would fathom at this point, since Ramon has one year left at I think $8 million plus, the Orioles would attempt to move him this off-season.
I say let Wieters play for a job in Spring Training, and if he tears it up, he should be behind the plate for Opening Day 2009.