Sunday, January 16, 2011

Baseball season can start now

I know a lot of us are still reeling from yesterday's utter collapse of a game. I still don't know how it happened, but it did. Ugh.

On the bright side ladies and gents of the interwebs; Orioles Spring Training is just around the corner and for the first time in seemingly decades I think we genuinely have a lot to look forward to the summer in Baltimore. Oh there will be the usual canal of haters out there that will rail on the team's chances (still miniscule) and the fact that they didn't get a big bat like Beltre or a strong starter like Cliff Lee. But these are the people that complain about everything. These are the people that have on set track of beliefs that they will siply refuse to waiver from., Maybe they don't like Angelos (can't really blame them), maybe they don't like MacPhail, maybe they never recovered from the heartbreak of the Tex negotiations. Bottom line is these people should largely be ignored because they are clouded by their own agenda. Let's take a look at the Orioles offseason and their three major acquisitions.

Mark Reynolds

Reynolds is a power hitting third baseman with a solid glove but a hole in his bat the size of Challenger Deep. Reynolds has struck out 634 times in the last THREE SEASONS.. For comparisons sake Nick Markakis has struck out 404 times in that same period. That being stated, what makes Reynolds great is his power. While striking out 634 times in three seasons he has hit a total of 104 homeruns. He has also maintained a .330 OBP during those years as well. He hits homers, doesn't hit into double plays and strikes out a ton. I think Reynolds was a great pick up and we got him only having to trade away David Hernandez and an ineffective Kam Mickolio it was a great deal.

JJ Hardy

Hardy comes to the Orioles from Minnesota after spending the first five years of his career in Milwaukee. Hardy made a name for himself in his 2007 and 2008 campaigns combining stellar defense with solid power and average. Injuries have sidelined Hardy the last couple of seasons. He has seen his power decline but he can still handle a bat and provide fantastic defense up the middle. The general theory is that if Hardy can stay healthy he should have a season that more closely resembles his 08 year than his 2010 year; if that were to happen the Orioles would have gotten another steal of a trade that sent a couple of minor league arms to the Twins. Hardy's issue, like Reynolds to a lesser extent, is injuries. He has missed significant time the last two years and has only played in more than 150 games once in his, still short, career. Given Hardy's injury history that Orioles opted to retain defensive-minded shortstop Caesar Izturis as Hardy's back-up. Hardy was brought in because of his bat which is a massive upgrade over Izturis'. Hardy's glove should be just as reliable as well. All in all, the Hardy move is a pretty good one. If JJ can rebound a bit this year the Orioles may have a mid-term answer at short who can contribute at a high level while the Orioles wait for Manny Machado in the minors.

Derrek Lee

After a courtship that seemed to take way too long which basically boiled down to a four-way game of chicken between the O's, Nationals, Adam LaRoche and Lee; Lee finally signed with the Orioles taking a one-year $7.25 million salary. The negotiations for these players were long and, frankly, awkward. Anyone could see that neither Lee or LaRoche wanted to come to either the Nationals or Baltimore. For all intents and purposes the Orioles and Nats were the last girls left without dates to the prom - we have great personalities but you are more likely to go all the way with the skan---I mean Yankees, than you are with either of these bookish types. Hopefully now that Lee chose us the Orioles can take the proverbial pencil out of her hair, let it down and show Mr. Lee that this WAS a pretty attractive place to play. Lee should get his homers here, without a doubt, and power at first base is something the Orioles have missed a lot. However, as it is with the other two acquisitions, the question is health. Lee was hampered with a thumb injury for most of the first half of last season but came on strong in the second half posting a .298 BA and a very impressive .888 OPS with a .516 SLG percentage. By all accounts Lee feels his thumb injury is 100% healed and he is ready to go for the Birds.

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