May. 30, 2016
Baltimore Orioles Preview
With the fourth team in the AL East, I will be doing the team with the most upside and most downside of them all, the Baltimore Orioles. Time is running out in Baltimore, as star 3B Manny Machado only has two years left with the club and then will be tempted to move on outside of the state of Maryland. Oh, and did I mention closer Zach Britton and star center fielder Adam Jones become free agents that year too? Yeah, this year and next year are their only real chances assuming free agency favors clubs like the division rival Yankees, but they are still poised to be a contender this year.
PROJECTED ROTATION: Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Wade Miley, Ubaldo Jimenez
This rotation is better than it appears, but also is capable of breaking every Orioles' fans hart. Chris Tillman can be an ace when he wants to, but I would much like him better as a top of the line number three starter. Kevin Gausman had a good year too, and he would make a great fourth starter. Dylan Bundy finally overcame his prospect status and pitched a full season in the MLB, and finished off as a pretty productive starter (maybe he becomes the ace after all). Wade Miley will be better, but he is not a solution as a front line starter. Ubaldo Jimenez has a career almost as unique as his name, since he was a Cy Young level pitcher in Colorado but outside of it he is awful. That said, he's their best option left and has huge upside. Keep an eye on Mike Wright as well, but he's better suited for long reliever.
BULLPEN: Zach Britton (CL), Brad Brach, Darren O'Day, Mychal Givens, Donnie Hart, Oliver Drake, Mike Wright
Zach Britton is the best closer at the moment in baseball, and the fact that the Orioles didn't play him in the Wild Card game is unfathomable. After him, Darren O'Day and Brad Brach will fight to keep leads safe long enough to get to Britton, and they will fight for the eighth inning role. Mike Wright is the long reliever, and after that it's a bit unsettled. Givens and Hart had the best years last season, so I'm giving them the spot along with Oliver Drake due to his experience. Keep an eye out for Jayson Aquino, Tyler Wilson and Logan Verrett for the roster spot.
CATCHERS: Wellington Castillo, Caleb Joseph
This is a team that thought it had a long term catching solution in Matt Wieters, but still has left him to be stranded in free agency. They brought in Wellington Castillo as what one could only believe to be a temporary job, as top prospect Chance Sisco is a non-roster invitee and waiting in the wings. Castillo is a good power hitting catcher and might make a fine DH once Sisco makes the team, but he isn't a long-term answer. Caleb Joseph is one of the better backups in baseball, and his bat has been proven in the past to be solid.
INFIELDERS: Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, JJ Hardy, Ryan Flaherty, Trey Mancini
I feel like Ryan Flaherty has been here since Cal Ripken was on the team, but that's obviously not the case. Flaherty is a long-term backup infielder in Baltimore, and has had good flashes during his tenure with the franchise. However, this infield is more about everybody else, and it is led by superstar Manny Machado. Chris Davis is also a star, and is capable of hitting 38 home runs in a bad season, and has hit over 50 before during the good ones. JJ Hardy is a solid shortstop in essentially every way you can think of, and Jonathan Schoop is a second base star on the rise. Trey Mancini is the fifth rated prospect in the farm system, and could get some time in at DH and allow Trumbo to play right field as well.
OUTFIELDERS: Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, Seth Smith, Hyun Soo Kim, Joey Rickard
Imagine if the Orioles were not able to bring back Mark Trumbo, and think Logan Schafer would be on the team. Yeah, it's not pretty, and it really ruins the Orioles' chances of going back to the postseason. I doubt Mark Trumbo will hit 47 home runs again, but I feel like he could basically swap seasons with Chris Davis and it would even out. That said, having Mark Trumbo's bat in the lineup is enough to make it a potent one, and throw in All-Star Adam Jones in center and you have a good group of outfielders. I don't see how Yovani Gallardo's trade value is equal to Seth Smith, but the Orioles need outfield help??? Hyun Soo Kim is the leadoff hitter, as he is the only player on the team who fits that profile. Joey Rickard had a solid start to last season, but big league pitching started catching up fast and now he has to prove that he deserves a spot in the MLB. Logan Schafer and Aneury Tavarez are the main competitors with Rickard for a roster spot.
LINEUP: Kim (LF), Jones (CF), Machado (3B), Trumbo (DH), Davis (1B), Schoop (2B), Hardy (SS), Castillo (C), Smith (RF)
The trio of Jones-Machado-Trumbo makes this lineup really dangerous and gives me hope for the Orioles, but I also see that rotation and start to feel differently. Wellington Castillo isn't as good as Matt Wieters, but he can put up similar offensive statistics. I still think the Orioles need another power bat to move Seth Smith out of the lineup, and Chris Davis should have a better batting average as well. Overall, I think this is the third best team in the AL East, since the Yankees are either too old or too inexperienced in most areas. I'm guessing 86 wins and a battle with the Texas Rangers for a postseason berth.