Well, Baltimore fans, for the first time in a long time we haven’t hit the New Year and it is time to focus on baseball. Don’t worry; this Dolphins fan is suffering through the same pain you are this morning. But we can all be glad the Steelers didn’t make it, right?
So with spring training still a month and a half away, the baseball news cycle is down to a crawl. But Orioles fans are not happy with that, they want news. I can’t promise anything new, but I can look back and also ahead a bit. We all had our winter shopping lists, and so did Dan Duquette.
Going into the offseason, the needs for the Birds were at 2B, LF and SP. Fans were enamored with the thought of exciting gifts like Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and others possibly being wrapped and put under the tree.
But what the Orioles did was quite different. Nate McLouth, Brian Roberts, Scott Feldman all went elsewhere. Jim Johnson was traded, opening up another void, at closer. It felt like a stocking full of coal, rather than any of those shiny presents. But don’t despair, while some of the moves may remind you of getting an ugly sweater for Christmas, I think some of them will end up being much better than anticipated.
2B Additions: Jemile Weeks
Departures: Brian Roberts
I honestly believe the Orioles will be better next year at 2B. You are going to hear me say a lot here that the O’s are bringing in guys the fans are going to like, and Weeks fits that. He obviously has the potential; hopefully the change of scenery will help put it together. Schoop will have another year in the minors barring a huge spring, and I think Flaherty is the opening day starter at 2B, and is an upgrade over an aging Roberts defensively and has more power. He will need to work on getting on base more.
Departures: Nate McLouth
Let’s face it, Baltimore Orioles fans really liked Nate McLouth. He was a gritty guy who fit the Baltimore mold. But he is also a veteran, who honestly has probably been replaced with a younger guy in Lough with more upside. From all I have seen and heard, O’s fans will love Lough! Reimold will have every chance to put it together once proven healthy, and I think he will start at DH on opening day with Lough in left. Borbon is a great addition, but is actually on the minor league roster and will start the season there. Peguero is also very intriguing, I expect him to earn the backup OF position. Urrutia will need to improve his defense and baserunning, I think he starts at Norfolk every day in the field to do just that.
SP Additions: Liam Hendriks
Departures: Scott Feldman, Jason Hammel
Ok, the Orioles move at SP, where the need was greatest, is ugly sweater worthy so far. They still need to make a move to get a starting pitcher; especially if Norris is moved to closer as I think is possible. Gausman must start every five days, whether that is in Baltimore or Norfolk. Britton will have every chance to prove he can start, and Johnson should get some looks. I think the first three are locks in the rotation; Norris will certainly be if they don’t try him at closer, and the last spot is up for grabs. There are still a lot of pitchers on the market, so a move could be made. And Duquette likes to trade so it could be a trade that brings a pitcher to Baltimore. If I had to say right now, I think Britton wins the fifth spot with a great do-or-die spring, but I don’t think the success carries over to the regular season and he is replaced before mid-May by Gausman, ending Britton’s tenure as an O.
Be sure to let us know what you think and share this with all your Bird fan friends! And I hope you all have a Happy New Year!