Posted on: February 10, 2012 10:59 am
By Matt Snyder
Here we are for the fifth of six installments of spring positional battles. This one is the mighty AL East, the most polarizing and probably best division in the majors.
Previous spring position battles: AL West | NL West | AL Central | NL Central
New York Yankees
Designated Hitter: Andruw Jones vs. Russell Branyan vs. Free Agent vs. Revolving Door
I still feel like the Yankees will sign either Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez or Hideki Matsui -- any of whom likely nails down this job full-time. But it's undecided as of right now, and wide open. Will Andruw Jones or Russell Branyan hit well enough to justify being the full-time DH? Maybe, or maybe they platoon -- as Jones hits from the right side while Branyan is a lefty. Or maybe the Yankees use bench players like Eduardo Nunez, Bill Hall and Chris Dickerson in the field while using starters like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher at DH a few times a week in order to keep guys healthy and in tip-top shape.
Tampa Bay Rays
No. 4-5 starters: Jeff Niemann vs. Wade Davis vs. Matt Moore vs. Six-man rotation
Talk about a nice "problem" to have. The Rays obviously have David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson as the top three in the rotation. While there isn't a big problem with either Niemann or Davis, it's time to find a place in the rotation for Moore and I'm certain they will. The 22-year-old left-hander was awesome in his limited time in the majors last year, including a stellar outing against the Rangers in Texas for Game 1 of the ALDS. Moore's already received the type of team-friendly contract Evan Longoria got when he was a rookie -- as Moore is signed through 2016 with club options running all the way through 2019. So the question is, do the Rays demote either Niemann or Davis to the bullpen or trade one of them? Niemann would be the trade candidate, as Davis also has a team-friendly contract with club options that take him through 2017. And I doubt this happens, but the Rays could always go with a six-man rotation. Seeing how this plays out will a big spring storyline.
Boston Red Sox
Shortstop: Nick Punto vs. Mike Aviles vs. Jose Iglesias
After trading both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie this offseason, the Red Sox are left with what appears to be Mike Aviles against Nick Punto at short. Punto had a good offensive campaign by his standards last season, when he hit .278 with a .388 on-base percentage. He only had six starts at shortstop, though, and his career numbers don't indicate he's worthy of an everyday gig at shortstop. Aviles also only started six games at short last season, and he only hit .255/.289/.409. He did hit well for the Red Sox, but it was a small 107 plate appearance sample. So the choice between Punto and Aviles is dubious defensively and neither is a good offensive option. Enter Iglesias, the dazzling defensive prospect. He's a dreadful hitter -- his line in Triple-A was .235/.285/.269 last season -- but it's not like Aviles or Punto are going to be confused with Troy Tulowitzki or anything. Maybe the Red Sox just plant Iglesias in the nine-hole and enjoy the exceptional defense?
Corner Outfield spots: Cody Ross vs. Ryan Sweeney vs. Carl Crawford and his health
Crawford is said to be questionable for the start of the season after undergoing minor wrist surgery a few weeks ago. If he's healthy, he starts in left easily while Sweeney and Ross battle it out for the right field job. If Crawford can't start the season, Ross and Sweeney are the corner outfielders, yet still fighting for the right field job for when Crawford returns. At some point, Ryan Kalish will return from offseason shoulder surgery and could eventually fight for playing time in right field as well.
Toronto Blue Jays
Outfield logjam: Colby Rasmus vs. Eric Thames vs. Rajai Davis vs. Travis Snider
We know who mans right field, but these four guys are competing for the other two spots. Thames in left field and Rasmus in center seem the most likely, but Davis will get a shot at either spot and Snider is in the mix for left.
No. 5 starter: Dustin McGowan vs. Kyle Drabek
This may bleed up into the No. 4 starter as well, but I'll give Brett Cecil the nod for now, since he is left-handed. The top three are Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez. So, for now, I'll guess the last spot comes down to McGowan and Drabek. McGowan was once a very promising young arm. He went 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 144 strikeouts in 169 2/3 innings back in 2007, when he was 25. He then made 19 starts before falling injured in 2008 and finally just resurfaced late last season -- two shoulder surgeries and one knee surgery later. Does he have anything left? He was good in 12 minor-league starts in 2011, but had a 6.43 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in the small sample of 21 innings pitched for the Blue Jays. Drabek was a top 30 prospect each of the past two years, according to Baseball America, but he fell flat last season for the Jays. He had a 6.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP and more walks than strikeouts for the big-league club. Even worse, he was knocked around for Triple-A Las Vegas, to the tune of a 7.44 ERA and 2.03 WHIP in 75 innings. Walks, again, were an issue with Drabek issuing 41 compared to 45 strikeouts. Prospects Deck McGuire and Drew Hutchison could also figure in the mix eventually, but this feels like Drabek vs. McGowan heading into March.
The entire pitching staff: Johnny Wholestaff vs. Joe Allstaff
So let's see ... the following pitchers might have a chance at the starting rotation: Zach Britton (very safe bet), Jason Hammel (safe bet), Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Dana Eveland, Wei-Yin Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada, Alfredo Simon and Tommy Hunter. That's quite a mix of pitchers to sift through, but the job isn't overwith yet, because we have to look at the bullpen.
Three pitchers -- Jim Johnson, Matt Lindstrom and Kevin Gregg -- will compete for the closer job, with Troy Patton, Pedro Strop and Darren O'Day also being part of the bullpen mix. Of course, guys like Simon, Hunter and Bergesen will get a shot in the bullpen if they miss out on the rotation, too. There are more (Willie Eyre, Armando Galarraga, etc.), but I already named 17 pitchers vying for 12 spots.
We could probably move Simon and Hunter to the bullpen while eliminating Eveland from the starting mix, but that still leaves eight guys in competition. In the bullpen, Johnson seems the best bet to win the closer gig, with Lindstrom and Gregg setting up. Add Strop, Patton, Simon and Hunter and you have your seven. But, again, we've thrown out Eveland and there would still be three extra starters along with O'Day, Eyre et al on the outside looking in.
I'll say one thing: Orioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair won't be bored this spring. Maybe frustrated, but definitely not bored.
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Tags: AL East, Alex Rodriguez, Alfredo Simon, Andruw Jones, Blue Jays, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, Carl Crawford, Chris Tillman, Cody Ross, Colby Rasmus, Dana Eveland, Darren O'Day, Derek Jeter, Dustin McGowan, Eric Thames, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Jeff Niemann, Jim Johnson, Johnny Damon, Jose Iglesias, Kevin Gregg, Kyle Drabek, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Moore, Matt Snyder, Mike Aviles, Nick Punto, Orioles, Pedro Strop, Rajai Davis, Rays, Red Sox, Russell Branyan, Ryan Sweeney, spring position battles, Tommy Hunter, Travis Snider, Troy Patton, Tsuyoshi Wada, Wade Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, Yankees, Zach Britton
Posted on: December 11, 2011 6:35 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.
The Orioles haven't had a winning season since 1997, and part of that has been the team's inability to draft, sign and cultivate its own players. Even the teams with the biggest payrolls, like the Yankees and Red Sox, have learned the lesson that you need to have a steady crop of homegrown players, not only to keep costs down, but also to have the commodities to trade if needed. The Orioles' Matt Wieters emerged as an All-Star in 2011 and Brian Roberts has had a solid career, but the team has still struggled to produce a consistent pipeline to the majors, and when those players have gotten there, they've often disappointed.
1. Brian Roberts, 2B
2. Mike Fontenot, SS
3. Nick Markakis, RF
4. Jayson Werth, 1B
5. Matt Wieters, C
6. Nolan Reimold, LF
7. Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
8. Willie Harris, DH
9. Darnell McDonald, CF
1. Erik Bedard
2. Zach Britton
3. Jake Arrieta
4. Brad Bergesen
5. Brian Matusz
Closer - David Hernandez
Set up - Arthur Rhodes, Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara, Jason Berken, Pedro Beato, D.J. Carrasco
Notable Bench Players
Eli Whiteside is the backup catcher, and a pretty good one. But other than that, the Orioles' bench is thin. Brandon Snyder? Ryan Adams? That's about all the team has to offer.
The middle of the lineup -- Markakis, Werth and Wieters is solid and the bullpen is deep. Other than that? Not much.
Take your pick -- the rest of the team's lineup isn't up to snuff. The rotation, minus Bedard, is similar to the real team's rotation in 2011. And then there's not much depth, either in the rotation or the lineup.
Comparison to real 2011
Only the Astros, Twins and Mariners had a worse record than Baltimore's 67-95 mark in 2011, and this team could be even worse. The rotation is about the same and the offense isn't as good without J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds. The Orioles once were known for throwing money at free agents and not developing their own players, now they just don't develop their own players. A team of homegrown Orioles could challenge the 100 loss mark and maybe even the worst record in baseball.
Next: Washington Nationals
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Arthur Rhodes, Brad Bergesen, Brandon Snyder, Brian Matusz, Brian Roberts, C. Trent Rosecrans, D.J. Carrasco, Darnell McDonald, David Hernandez, Eli Whiteside, Erik Bedard, Homegrown, Jake Arrieta, Jason Berken, Jayson Werth, Jerry Hairston, Jerry Hairston Jr., Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara, Matt Wieters, Mike Fontenot, Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold, Orioles, Pedro Beato, Ryan Adams, Willie HArris, Zach Britton
Posted on: September 21, 2011 11:41 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 11:43 am
By Matt Snyder
Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...
Team name: Baltimore Orioles
Record: 64-90, 29.5 games back in AL East
Manager: Buck Showalter
Best hitter: Adam Jones -- .283/.324/.466, 23 HR, 80 RBI, 63 R, 25 2B, 11 SB
Best pitcher: Jeremy Guthrie -- 9-17, 4.28 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 128 K, 202 IP
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Orioles haven't been in playoff contention since 1997. Following that season, they finished fourth nine times and third once. They're now headed for their fourth consecutive last-place finish.
2011 SEASON RECAP
Things appeared to be looking up early in the season for the Orioles. They started off 6-1, and this wasn't against pushovers. They swept the Rays, took two of three from the Tigers and then beat the Rangers. Of course, it was too good to be true. They proceeded to lose eight straight. They did battle back to .500 twice and lingered close to .500 until being buried by an awful stretch, when they went 6-23 from June 11-July 15. That would end any hope of breaking through, as the Orioles wouldn't be closer than 20 games in the AL East after July 22.
The Orioles did get younger in trading Derrek Lee, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez, and there were some positive signs. They now have a decent offensive core of catcher Matt Wieters, third baseman Mark Reynolds, shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielders Nick Markakis and Adam Jones (any of the four could have been picked as the "best hitter" above). None of those players are older than 28. Of course, none are younger than 25, nor do any appear to be superstar material. On the mound, the Orioles saw enough from rookie Zach Britton to believe he's one of the pieces of the future, but Brian Matusz had a disaster of a season. Jim Johnson is showing himself the answer at closer and Pedro Strop -- who was acquired from the Rangers in the Gonzalez deal -- is throwing the ball very well in front of him.
The outlook would be a lot more sunny in a different division. The fact of the matter is that the Orioles are set up to improve their on-field product, but probably not be drastic enough to translate into more wins next season -- because the AL East is so good. The Yankees, Red Sox or Rays don't appear to be getting much worse any time soon and the Blue Jays are pretty well set up to take some significant steps forward. That means that even if the Orioles get better, they're still behind the 8-ball, so to speak.
One area where they can improve is from simple progression from all the young players. Matusz can't possibly be worse, so long as he stays mentally balanced, healthy and works hard in the offseason. Tommy Hunter has good enough stuff to be a part of the rotation, too, just as Jake Arrieta does. Chris Tillman is still too young to give up on. Shifting to the position players: Brian Roberts will still only be 34 and should be healthy, so there's hope he comes back with a productive season. Luke Scott and Nolan Reimold are fine pieces of a supporting cast and we already mentioned the offensive core. Also of note: Wieters is becoming a great defensive catcher. That matters.
Cesar Izturis, SS
Vladimir Guerrero, DH
They need to quit trying to make a patchwork lineup (Lee, Guerrero) for the short-term and instead use some money looking long-term. You aren't competing in the AL East by filling holes with washed-up vets. Here are five big things I'd do to improve the Orioles with the eyes on the future.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Adam Jones, AL East, Brian Matusz, Brian Roberts, Chris Davis, Chris Tillman, J.J. Hardy, Jake Arrieta, Jeremy Guthrie, Jim Johnson, Josh Bell, Kevin Gregg, Luke Scott, Mark Reynolds, Matt Snyder, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold, Orioles, Pedro Strop, Prince Fielder, R.I.P., Tommy Hunter, Zach Britton
Posted on: July 31, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2011 10:19 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans and Evan Brunell
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fourth inning of the team's game against Baltimore, an inning after he was hit in the right hand by a pitch from Orioles starter Jake Arrieta.
X-rays were negative, the team announced and he is day to day with a bruised middle finger.
Jeter was examined by Girardi and the team's trainer and stayed in the game for the top of the fourth, but was then lifted for pinch hitter Francisco Cervelli when his spot came up in the fourth.@cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 31, 2011 12:39 am
Edited on: May 31, 2011 7:59 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Kyle Phillips, Padres -- Coming into Monday's game, the San Diego native was hitting just .138/.242/.172. So he was hardly Bud Black's first choice off the bench as a pinch-hitter, but Phillips hit the first homer of his big league career to lead off the 10th inning, leading the Padres to a 3-2 victory over the Braves.
Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks -- Johnson finished a single short of the cycle, hitting two homers. He accounted for 13 total bases -- four more than teammate Justin Upton, who went 5 for 5. Johnson hit for the cycle last season.
Tony Campana, Cubs -- On his 25th birthday, the Cubs rookie stole four bases. Coming into Monday, the Cubs as a team had stolen 10 bases all season. Starlin Castro led the team with four stolen bases before the day started.
Sean Rodriguez, Rays -- The Rays hadn't committed more than one error in a game all season -- until Monday when Rodriguez took care of that all by himself, making three errors in the game. The shortstop tied the Rays record for errors in a game, joining five others. The Rays' 52 games to start the season without more than one error is a major league record.
Jake Arrieta, Orioles -- The Baltimore right-hander gave up two runs in the first to the Mariners, but it was the fourth inning that did him in. Arrieta gave up back-to-back walks with the bases loaded in the third inning of the team's 4-3 loss to Seattle. Arrieta has now given up 16 walks in his last 24 innings. He was pulled after the two walks -- including a 12-pitch at-bat by Adam Kennedy and then another full-count walk to Miguel Olivo.
Jon Lester, Red Sox -- Going for his big-league best eighth victory, Lester was roughed up for seven runs on eight hits in just 5 2/3 innings. Still, he needed 127 pitches to get to that point, the second-most he's thrown in his career after the 130 he threw in his no-hitter in 2008. In two starts against Chicago's two teams, Lester has given up 20 hits and 12 runs in 11 2/3 innings.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 10, 2011 1:36 am
By Evan Brunell
Russell Martin, Yankees -- Russell Martin's two-home run day early on proved a harbinger of things to come later that night with the other New York team. Martin delivered a soul-crushing blow in the fourth inning with a three-run blast off Clay Buchholz that erased the lead Boston had just taken. He would later cap off the 9-4 victory with a solo home run in the seventh for a total of four RBI out of the nine spot. He was helped by Eric Chavez's three-hit night in front of him.
Carlos Beltran, Mets -- Carlos Ruiz's pinch-hit grand slam probably belongs here as it was instrumental in taking out the Braves, but this was a game Beltran sorely needed after coming into the game with a paltry .190/.292/.286 mark in 24 plate appearances. Now, he walks away with a .240/.321/.560 mark. Yes, things change that fast in the early going, and Beltran's two home runs against the Nationals completely changed everything for the new right fielder, who tacked on three runs and three RBI as well.
Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers -- An absolute masterpiece tossed by the Japanese import completely blanked the Padres as Kuroda came within one out of a complete game. He ended up with 8 2/3 innings pitched, giving up just six hits and two walks along with four strike outs and of course, no runs earned. With 117 pitches on his resume and having coughed up consecutive singles, Kuroda's night was done. While Johnathan Broxton made it scary by loading the bases on a walk, he was able to nail down the win for Kuroda.
Travis Buck, Indians -- Buck had the worst batting line on the day as his ofer included three strikeouts. Buck is tring to battle for playing time in the outfleld and cling to a spot after Grady Sizemore's eventual return. While the oft-injured outfielder has talent, one has to wonder if the years of stops and starts due to said injuries have sapped all his potential.
Jake Arrieta, Orioles -- Arrieta followed up Zach Britton's shining example set in the first game of a doubleheader by falling flat with a dud. In just 3 1/3 innings, the rookie coughed up six hits and two walks en route to eight earned runs, including two home runs. While he did save face with five strikeouts, that's really searching for a silver line. Could Arrieta and his 8.68 ERA be jettisoned to Triple-A instead of Britton when Brian Matusz returns?
Fernando Abad, Astros -- Bud Norris was cruising and his Astros had a 4-1 lead entering the sixth. Norris would go on to surrender the lead by coughing up three runs, but at least it was still tied, right? Except reliever Fernando Abad came in for the seventh recorded an out and then gave up three straight doubles. No wonder, then, that two runs scored and Abad couldn't finish out the inning. Florida would go on to win 7-5.
Posted on: April 4, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: April 4, 2011 6:50 pm
UPDATE (6:45 p.m. EST): Guthrie has been diagnosed with a form of pneumonia and scratched from his scheduled Wednesday start. Brad Bergesen will get the ball in his absence.
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Orioles are hoping Guthrie, pictured, can still make his start Wednesday against the Tigers, but if not, Brad Bergesen would replace him.
"He started running a fever yesterday," manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko . "We thought we got it under control. Talking to him last night when we got here, he felt pretty good, but somewhere between that and today, his fever spiked back up. He's over there now trying to get a grip on what we're dealing with.
"I'm not sure if he'll be here or not. I expect him to probably come in and give us an update on where he is with it, but right now he's still tentatively scheduled to pitch on Wednesday. We'll see what the next couple of days bring. We'll probably make a decision on that tomorrow."
Bergesen had been expected to be the team's fifth starter, but started the season in the bullpen because the team wouldn't need a fifth starter until April 10.
The Orioles already had to mess with their rotation when Brian Matusz went on the disabled list on Friday due to back pain. To make up for Matusz's injury, the team moved Chris Tillman up a day to start on Saturday against Tampa Bay, while the team called up Zach Britton from Triple-A to start Sunday against the Rays.
Even with the shuffling, the Orioles starters have been good through three games. Guthrie went eight shutout innings on opening day, Tillman didn't allow a hit in six innings on Saturday and Britton gave up just three hits and a run in six innings yesterday. Jake Arrieta makes his first start of the season this afternoon against the Tigers.@cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 11, 2010 11:12 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:51 am
As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. Next up: The only AL East team to finish under .500 in the Baltimore Orioles.
The Orioles were a team with a budding youth movement at the end of 2009 with enough solid young players that it was thought 2010 could be the first step towards an eventual return to the top of the AL East.
Instead, the team cycled through three managers and a host of disappointing seasons from crucial players en route to the same old, same old.
WHAT WENT WRONG
In the offseason, the O's made three moves geared toward addressing the team's perceived weaknesses amid a push for .500. Those were bringing in Garrett Atkins, Miguel Tejada and Kevin Millwood.
Atkins couldn't hit his way out of a brown paper bag before being released, Tejada played poorly in his first season as a third baseman and increasingly appeared disinterested before being traded to the Padres and Kevin Millwood ran up a 4-16 record and 5.10 ERA in 31 starts.
In addition, center fielder Adam Jones regressed, left fielder Nolan Reimold was sent to Triple-A, second baseman Brian Roberts struggled with back problems, limited to just 59 games and Nick Markakis' 12 home runs were a massive disappointment. Mega-prospect Matt Wieters' pedestrian season proved that you can't always depend on minor-league numbers to tell the whole story. (Wieters still figures to develop into one of the league's best backstops.)
And if someone can tell me why the O's didn't trade Ty Wigginton when he was very much in demand and a free agent likely to depart, please call me. Because that was one of the dumber decisions at the trade deadline made by any team, with only the Nats' decision to hang onto Adam Dunn perhaps worse.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Brian Matusz (pictured, right) shook off a slow start and ended the year with a 4.30 ERA, impressive for a rookie in the AL East. The lefty should eventually develop into Baltimore's ace. He was joined by Jeremy Guthrie, who shook off a poor 2009 to return to his usual season of around 200 innings (209 1/3) and an ERA just under 4.00 (3.83).
On offense, Felix Pie established himself as the left-fielder of the future after questions surrounding his commitment and talent. Pie was injured for a major part of the year, and nomad Corey Patterson -- himself an ex-Cub top prospect -- filled in admirably for Pie.
Luke Scott powered his way to a .902 OPS and career-best 27 blasts, hitting .284/.368/.535 in 447 plate appearances, as Scott has established himself as a solid power-hitter in the middle of the Orioles' lineup. On a contending team, he would likely bat fifth and at 32, his value is running out. His age is not a concern thanks to having two more years of arbitration that other teams would covet. However, Scott will only get older and only get closer to free agency, so the O's should capitalize on Scott's best full-time year and deal him.
HELP ON THE WAY
The Orioles debuted Jake Arrieta and brought Chris Tillman up for another shot at the rotation, giving the O's three nice arms with Matusz that will eventually be the foundation of the team. Tillman is still struggling to adapt to the majors but has plenty of time to figure out while Arrieta has a 2011 rotation spot locked up.
Zach Britton skyrocketed up the prospect rankings all season and should debut in 2011, eventually pairing with Guthrie, Matusz, Arrieta and Tillman to give the Orioles its best pitching staff since its mid-90s halcyon days and its best shot to take down the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and Jays. Offensively, the club drafted shortstop Manny Machado in June, who will appear on many Top-100 prospect lists this winter.
Josh Bell didn't find the bigs to his liking in his major-league debut, compiling a .214/.224/.302 line but represents the O's best hope for developing a power hitter and will get every chance. Brandon Snyder will also get every chance to become Baltimore's long-term first baseman, but a poor 2010 calls into question how ready he is currently.
EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011
The Orioles ran through Dave Trembley and Juan Samuel heading up the clubhouse before settling on Buck Showalter (pictured, right). The longtime skipper posted a 34-23 record in town, giving many hope. While Showalter will combine with many budding, talented youngsters to give forth a strong effort, the team is simply not ready for prime time.
Shooting for .500 is a realistic goal, but the team may have to temper expectations given the mighty behemoth that is the AL East. Finishing with 88 losses could be as good as finishing .500 in any other division.
SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011
The Orioles need to be focused on one thing and one thing only: surrounding the team with enough talent to compete. With enough money to make a play for a big free agent, the O's could strike big, but need to make these smaller strikes count as well.
The Orioles could make a play for Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford and sell them on having enough talent coming up to make a push. The dollars and sense won't likely work out, however, so the O's will have to go second-tier shopping. Taking a flyer on Jeremy Bonderman, still under age 30 and with plenty of talent, could work out in spades for the O's. Jorge De La Rosa would be a safer get, but also come at a higher price.
On offense, the team could target someone like Carlos Pena or Derrek Lee, amongst a host of others, to come in to act as a veteran presence and occupy first base long enough for Snyder to develop. The Orioles could also strike to acquire Prince Fielder, giving the team a cornerstone power bat to build around for the foreseeable future. Baltimore would also be able to flash enough money to potentially keep the slugger in town beyond 2011.
The Orioles will take baby steps toward contention. The offense is major-league ready enough, but the pitching is lagging behind and needs at least a year -- if not two -- to settle down. Baltimore's task is to get its young hitters focused in the meantime while cashing in on chips like Luke Scott and Jeremy Guthrie. The Orioles will likely sniff 90 losses but could be primed for a breakout in 2012.
Check out the rest of the R.I.P. reports here .
-- Evan Brunell
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .