Happy 2010 everyone. The start of Spring Training will be here sooner than we know -- a mere six or seven or so weeks away -- and right now, the Orioles have done well in some areas; meanwhile, they need to improve in others.
Going into 2010, the Orioles definitely have improved their rotation with the addition of Kevin Millwood as perhaps the team ace. As well, Jeremy Guthrie should be probably be able to build on a sad 2009 season hampered by a lack of preparation and the World Baseball Classic. Also, don't forget the youngsters Brian Matusz -- who finished 2009 strong -- Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman, David Hernandez, as well as a collection of arms in the minors.
Still, I do think that the Orioles do need another veteran to bolster the rotation just in case of one young arms don't look to be ready. There are still a lot of low-risk, high reward guys out there for the taking. Do the Orioles necessarily need one now? Maybe not; however, I so think the more arms in an organization, the better.
The offense despite the addition of Garrett Atkins obviously needs some work. It's unknown whether Atkins will play first or third, but meost everyone knows that another bat is critically needed at the corner positions. The Orioles have slugger Josh Bell and touted youngster Brandon Snyder in the minors, but temporary reinforcements might be needed until one or both men are ready for the majors.
Also, when it comes to the offense, one has to look how well Matt Wieters can progress in his second full season (he really started crushing the ball in August and after) along with the progress of Nolan Reimold. One also has question if Adam Jones can take his game to another level and is the player who was an All-Star in the first half of the season, or a guy who barely hit around his weight in Aug-Sept.?
One also has to ponder if Nick Markakis will get the ample protection he needs in the lineup? Looking back, the trade of Aubrey Huff definitely left Markakis vulnerable and his numbers suffered greatly because of it. Nick 'The Stick' ended his 2009 season with strong numbers; however, fans hope he can regain some of his power stroke and exercise more patience at the plate.
The bullpen looks to be also improved with the addition of Mike Gonzalez -- who will probably close -- and Jim Johnson, who was excellent as a setup man, but struggled as a closer. Baltimore's bullpen may not be complete yet, but one can expect Mark Hendrickson to re-sign, and some of the younger arms plus mainstays to compete for a spot. Perhaps the Orioles can also again take a another look at the free agent market to improve the 'pen; however, I think Gonzalez might be the only big ticker signing when it comes that.
Hopefully, the team in Spring Training and throughout the 2010 season will work on cutting down their mistakes -- the baserunning, execution at the plate -- that angered many, especially fans.