Long Season Ahead for Orioles?

| February 23, 2012 | 0 Comments

Written by Dave Sherr

Dave Sherr is a sports fanatic. A lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan, he remembers the good times and has suffered through the bad times with hope for the future. He follows all sports daily and is knowledgeable on national sports as well as the local and high school level. 

At this time last year, most Orioles’ fans were looking forward to the 2011 season with optimism. Buck Showalter had given the city hope after he took over in August 2010. Young pitchers Jake Arietta, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, and Chris Tillman were expected to finally deliver on all the promise they had shown. The team aquired Vlad Guerrero, JJ Hardy, Derek Lee and Mark Reynolds to go along with young stars, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters.  A .500 record was hoped for and after the first week of the season, the word “playoffs” was being thrown around Baltimore when the team got off to a quick start.

It all came crashing down, however. Brian Roberts missed most of the season with continued concussion symptoms. Guerrero and Lee never performed as they had in the past, with Lee being traded at the trade deadline, and the young pitchers took a big step backwards. While Arietta had a strong season, he was hurt and finished the season on the disabled list. Matusz injured himself in the spring and when he came back it looked like someone else was pitching in his uniform. Rookie Zach Britton performed admirably replacing Matusz and was a pleasant surprise. JJ Hardy played better than anyone could have expected, while Reynolds lived up to expectations with 37 home runs. They were the three bright spots along with Jones and Wieters.

Now as pitchers and catchers have reported for 2012, their is no such optimism. Bergesen, Matusz and Tillman may not even make the team out of spring training, veteran Jeremy Guthrie has been traded, Brian Roberts’ health is still in question, and the team did not bring in any significant replacements.

There are a large number of pitchers on the spring roster, but none will scare opposing teams. Tommy Hunter, acquired from Texas last year, should be one of the team’s starters, along with Arrieta and Britton (if they are healthy). The two pitchers the team signed from the Pacific, Tsuyoshi Wada from Japan, and Chen Wei-Yen from Taiwan, may start along with newcomer Jason Hammel, acquired from Colorado in the Guthrie trade, but nobody is sure. Alfredo Simon is another possibility.  It will all play out in Florida.

The bullpen has Jim Johnson, newcomers Luis Ayala and Matt Lindstrom, and last year’s closer Kevin Gregg. They will definitely need more help. The team’s best pitching prospect is probably Dylan Bundy who was just drafted last year out of high school.

So here we are again. 1998, 2002, 2005? No, it’s 2012 and we’re all wondering how bad things will be this year. They say each year starts with optimism and everyone has the same record. So is this as good as it gets this year?

 

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