|Nick Johnson (left) is just one of a few veterans Buck Showalter has in camp. (Getty Images)|
SARASOTA, Fla. -- What I like, and don't like, about the Orioles:
• It hasn't really happened yet, but I still believe that this group of young Orioles pitchers is going to produce at least a couple of guys who can compete in the American League East. I'm not sure it will be this year, and I'm not sure it will be enough, but between Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton and Brian Matusz, in particular, there is some talent to work with.
The day I showed up, the O's couldn't stop talking about Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman. Camp report >>
• Nick Markakis is a better player than he gets credit for, and he too often goes unnoticed because he plays for a team that never wins. He won a Gold Glove in right field last year, and he deserved it.
• Camden Yards is still one of the nicest places in baseball to watch a game, although it sure would be a lot nicer if the Orioles gave their fans a reason to fill it up more often.
• The Orioles did a great job redoing Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. The Reds left there because the city wouldn't contribute anything to upgrade the facility. That was too bad for the Reds and their fans, who never wanted to go to Arizona. It ended up great for the Orioles, who had been spring training nomads but basically ended up getting everything the Reds had wanted -- and more.
• How does this team win? They look totally overmatched, and look like a clear last-place team in the American League East. In a division where they like to say that being good isn't enough because you have to be great, the Orioles can't even approach being good.
• Three years ago, Brian Roberts led the American League in doubles. He scored 110 runs. Now, after multiple concussions, he can't even get on the field. It's sad, and it's also terrible for the Orioles, who just don't have many other options for leadoff. Manager Buck Showalter was trying Nolan Reimold there. Showalter is said to like Endy Chavez, too. But neither of them is Roberts. Not even close.
• The Orioles need an infusion of talent, but the older players they can trade just don't have much value. They've basically been trying to give Kevin Gregg away with no luck, and they made it clear to teams this spring that they'd be very happy to listen on Mark Reynolds, too.
• One reason given for the Orioles' difficulty developing their young pitchers is that they've lacked a veteran presence in the rotation. They traded away Jeremy Guthrie, their most veteran starter, but they didn't see him as a leader, anyway. But they still haven't found anyone for the kids to lean on, and they have yet to develop a James Shields-type leader of their own.