It could be argued that attempting to understand the 2014 Baltimore Orioles opening day roster is an exercise in futility at this point. Certainly there are going to be more shifting sands between now and then. The fan base is REALLY hoping there will be a couple of additions of players whose names are at least recognizable to them. Either through free agent signings or trades, that may well happen.
But in the event that we have a complete list of names even at this early date, how does it shake out? If Buck Showalter today had to select his 25 players to take to Baltimore on opening day, who would be on the list?
With this being my fourth season of writing about the O’s, let me say two things I have learned about speculating on final rosters. It will seem at first glance that these items contradict, but stick with me.
First, when you make the list and write down the names, honestly, you get to 20 or more names really quickly that you know, apart from injury or strangely unforeseen events, are locks to be on the roster. So all of the writing and fretting that we do is about a handful of names and positions at most.
Secondly, when it comes to trying to speculate on who will fill those final couple or three positions, it is amazing how many names, possibilities, and scenarios come to mind. And this is very, very true for the Orioles this year. For example, A LOT of pitchers have an opportunity to look great in Spring Training and make it onto this team.
Well, let’s “logic our way rationally” through the names and positions. Here is my list having given this some thought and with assumptions that guys like Machado and Reimold are healthy and ready to go (expanded thoughts are notated for reference below the list) …
Position Players and DH
C – Matt Wieters
1B – Chris Davis
2B – Jemile Weeks (a)
SS – J.J. Hardy
3B – Manny Machado
LF – David Lough (b)
CF – Adam Jones
RF – Nick Markakis
DH – Nolan Reimold
Backup Catcher / Subs
Ryan Flaherty (c)
Steve Pearce (d)
Michael Almanzar (e)
Kevin Gausman (f)
Zach Britton (g)
Steve Johnson (h)
Expanded Thoughts as Notated
(a) I believe Jamile Weeks is a good pickup. He is a good athlete, and in a new place I believe his performance closer to 2011 levels is a reasonable hope. If he does that, the Orioles are in good shape at second base.
(b) David Lough is going to be a fan favorite in Baltimore from all I’ve read and heard about him (as described in my article on him last week). This is going to prove to be a great trade for the Orioles.
(c) How can you not like Ryan Flaherty? Yet I believe his high value as a super utility person who can play all over the field is far beyond any value as an everyday position player. He is going to be in Baltimore on opening day in some form or fashion.
(d) I would rather have Henry Urrutia and hope to see his final training with the Orioles rather than the Tides, but it does not look like the organization is planning on this. I believe this guy could be an impact player … soon.
(e) Michael Almanzar, as a Rule 5 pick, is very likely to make this team for opening day. There is the uncertain issue about when Machado will definitely be back at third base in full form, and Almanzar will likely be in the insurance policy – at least for a while. I cannot see him sticking for the whole season however, and I would expect him to be dropped at some point for a necessary other move.
(f) The Orioles would certainly like to give Guasman a year at AAA, though big club demands may have to bring him to Baltimore. Here is the point of need that is the argument for adding a veteran starter from outside the organization.
(g) Britton is out of options, and pending a trade outside the organization will be with the Birds on opening day. This is his time to either … well … you know the saying.
(h) Steve Johnson was never really healthy last year. Hopefully a long winter’s nap and a reported workout program (such as helped Tillman) will bring back a stronger version of the effective guy we saw in 2012.
(i) This final relief spot is interesting, and any one of about 10 names could be added here from the current list. I put Brach and Escalona simply because they are the most veteran and eldest of all remaining names. And though McFarland would be best starting at AAA, again, big club needs may prevail. He would be a third left-hander in the absence of Patton. As with the fifth starter, the lack of clarity here demonstrates the need and the opening.
For many reasons, spring training cannot come soon enough for me!
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Tags: Baltimore Orioles