Here's a litte of my latest piece for MASNSports.com. Some of what you will read below is an expansion of some thoughts I had in previous entry this weekend.
The question on my mind - and a lot of fans' minds - is this: Can the Orioles finish at or above .500?
As we're close to the one-quarter mark of the 2011 (unofficially) season, there have been a lot of ups and downs with this team.
We all know the Orioles have struggled since the end of the 1990s and this year is centered with focusing on the development of the young arms, but also to some respect - wins, losses and being competitive.
As of May 18, there is some good and bad with the 2011 rendition of the Baltimore Orioles.
The starting pitching has been solid for the most part, especially with youngsters Zach Britton - perhaps the team's representative at the All-Star game in July and Rookie of the Year candidate - and Jake Arrieta leading the pack; however, Jeremy Guthrie needs to get some run support.
In addition, inconsistent performances from Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman have put them on the bubble for a spot as Brian Matusz will be back with the team soon, as well as maybe Alfredo Simon, depending on his legal issues.
I figured the starting pitching would struggle at times; however, it has been remarkably consistent.
The bullpen has too seen its share of ups and downs; however, the game Monday showed that they will have their struggles and at times frustrating nights. Overall, it's not been terrible, but sadly, it's not been lights-out either.
Now, the offense is another story.
So far, it looks like a retooled Baltimore squad has been very lackluster at the plate throughout much of the season. Right now, it looks like the new additions, plus the mainstays of the team over the past few seasons, aren't doing much at all.
However, during the past week, the offense has definitely shown signs of life. Adam Jones has really started to pick it up as of late, as has Nick Markakis, plus J.J. Hardy returning to the lineup has given the team some stability at the bottom of the batting order.