Baseball Preview: Baltimore Orioles
Last year’s record and finish are in parenthesis with projected improvement/decline indicated by plus or minus.
Baltimore Orioles (70-92, 4th in AL East)Â +Â 3 games
Get Crunked:Â Miguel TejadaÂ still sets theÂ offensive standards amongst all shortstops in the league –Â adding average to his repertoire with three straight +.300 seasons. Lefty Erik Bedard was one of the top pitchers in the league last year, winning 15Â games on a badÂ team.Â Chris Ray has emerged as a top closer in the American League and at only 25, he has a bright future.Â The front-office alsoÂ brought in a bunch of experiencedÂ armsÂ to hold leads in the bullpen.Â
Party Foul: Overall the offense isn’t powerful enough to keep up with the American League bashers, let alone theÂ bombers in the AL East.Â The rotation has some potential, but it too is too weak towards the bottom, and Kris Benson getting hurt certainly doesn’t help things.
What’d my GM do: The front office took one of the more unique approaches in the off-season; they bulked up the bullpen –Â and spent a lot of money doing so.Â Danys Baez was signed to a 3 year $19 mil deal, Chad Bradford was brought in for 3 years at $10.5 mil, and Jamie Walker was signed to a 3 year $12 million dollar deal.Â These three should take care of the 7th and 8th innings for the majority of the year, taking some of the pressure off the starters.Â They also brought in Jaret Wright in a low-risk trade, and veteran Steve Trachsel for a cheap price tag.
Lay it on me Straight: The Orioles just aren’t a very good club, nor have they been since ’97.Â It’s hard enough as is to compete with the Yanks and Red Sox, but when theÂ Blue Jays become big spenders, you’re toast.Â The only hope for Baltimore is toÂ get lucky with prospects developing, and pair that with wise free-agent acquisitions,Â and that would just make you competitive.Â
So where my boys gonna finish right now: Same place as 8 of the past 9 years, which is to say 4th place
Can we be better than that:Â You’re proably locked into that spot for the nextÂ millenium, unless TB gets better,Â in which case you drop toÂ 5th.Â