Blog Entry

Meet The 2010 AL East Champs: The Orioles

Posted on: February 25, 2010 8:54 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2010 9:03 pm

Okay, maybe that's taking it a little too far.They do have to pass the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays first. That's right, the O's finished last again last season. After winning just 64 games a season ago, it seems nearly insane to think that the 2010 version of the Baltimore Orioles could win as many as 85 games (maybe more if the pitching falls into place early on in the year). But its possible. And its not lunacy. The rotation has an 80% turnover rate (a great improvement I assure you) and the young hitters have a year of experience or more now at the ML level. Then, adding just the right combination of productive veterans and you have a recipe for success beyond just a few games in the standings. Here's my take:

Last season the O's blew 9 saves after George Sherrill was shipped off to the Dodgers for Josh Bell at the trade deadline. This offseason the Orioles front office moved swiftly and signed lefty Mike Gonzalez to take on the closer role for the next two years. Gonzalez, who turns 32 years old in May, was a 30th round draft pick of Pittsburgh in 1997. He was the primary closer for the 2006 Pirates and the 2008 Braves, and has a career 10.6 K/9. In 2007 he was injured and in 2009 he spent most of his time as the set-up man for Rafael Soriano who left Atlanta for the Tampa this winter. In 2006, Gonzalez was a perfect 24 for 24 in save opportunities. In 2008, he was 14 for 16. That equates to a 95% save rate. He alone, should make an 8 game difference. (That would take the win total from 64 to 72.)

The O's used 11 different starting pitchers last season. They finished last in the AL with a horrible 5.15 ERA, last in the AL with just 2 complete games and last in the AL with only 3 shut-outs.

The rotation coming out of Ft. Lauderdale last spring (with actual number of starts that they had last season, wins-loses and ERA) consisted of Jeremy Guthrie (33 10-17 5.04), Alfredo Simon (2 0-1 9.95), Koji Uehara (12 2-4 4.05), Mark Hendrickson (11 2-5 5.40) and Adam Eaton (8 2-5 8.56). By the end of the summer Brad Bergesen (19 7-5 3.43), Jason Berken (24 6-12 6.54), David Hernandez (19 4-10 5.42), Chris Tillman (12 2-5 5.40) and Brian Matusz (8 5-2 4.63) had made their Orioles and ML debut. The other two starters were southpaws Rich J. Hill (13 3-3 7.80) and Chris Waters (1 1-0 1.80).

I'll start with Guthrie because he is the only holdover that should begin the season in the rotation for both this and last season. Guthrie won 10 games in 2008 with a very good 3.64 ERA. He took a step backwards last season even though he equaled that win total. Many baseball analysts have agreed that the WBC took Guthrie out of his rigid pre-season routine and he never fully recovered. With an improved offense from the 2008 season when he posted his excellent numbers, the addition of a veteran pitcher (Millwood) to take over the role of defacto ace, no World Baseball Classic, and with a new million dollar bank account, Jeremy should be able to put up at least a dozen wins in the 2010 season. (That would take the win total to 74.)

The addition of Kevin Millwood was a sensible move. He is a talented veteran pitcher whose work ethic should rub off on the young arms. He has averaged 12 wins a season in his 12 full years in the majors and the O's should be able to expect that number again this year. If he accomplishes that, he will have won the same number of games that Hernandez, Hendrickson and Berken did in 54 combined starts in 2009. And although its not likely that Millwood will have a sub 4.00 ERA in the AL east, he should post a considerably better number than those three (a combined 5.91 ERA). (That would keep the win total at 74.)

Bergesen won 7 games in 19 starts last year with a sparkling 3.43 ERA before he was put on the DL after taking a line drive to his leg. If Bergy starts 33 games this season and paces the same wins total over the additional 14 starts, he would also finish with 12 wins. He may find it difficult to keep his ERA in the mid 3's, but 12 wins seems realistic. (That would take the win total to 79.)

Tillman struggled wit the long ball in his short stay with the club last season, but the soon to be 22 year old has ace stuff and is a mature young pitcher. The Orioles want him to win that 5th rotation spot and will give him ample opportunity to do so in Sarasota. If Tillman breaks camp with the club, he may be the biggest surprise of the 2010 season for Baltimore. He should win 10 games easily this season. (That would take the win total to 87.) (Less the 8 wins from Simon, Uehara, Hill, Eaton and Waters and the total stands at 79.)

Matusz pitched fairly effectively in his brief exposure to the big league. His 4.63 ERA should come down some this season and there is little doubt that he will mature into an ace. A role that IMO, he will soon share with Tillman. Brian won 5 games in just 8 starts. Its highly unlikely that he'll win at a 63% clip this early in his career, but the O's should be able to expect at least a dozen wins from him this year. (That would take the win total to 86.)

The offense should be better with the veteran additions Of Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins, and the continued growth of second year players Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters. Add the ongoing development of other young veterans like Nick Markakis and Adam Jones, and this offense should score in bunches.

My bold prediction is that the Baltimore Orioles will win 85 games this year. More if the pitching finds its rythmn early in the season. A 21 win increase may seem like alot, but when you consider the talented (albeit youthful) pitching staff alone, they should win 10-15 more games collectively than those reclaimation projects and waiver wire claims that were in the rotation for much of last season. That's only 2.5 wins more per starter on the average. Add a solid closer who will convert nearly all of his save opportunities (the Birds blew 8 saves in the second half alone during the annual year end collapse), and you have an opportunity to increase your win total by as many as 21. If Dave Trembley truly has the team working on the fundamentals of the game such as bunting and baserunning, there is no reason to think that this team can play well enough to win with its offense alone on days that the pitching isn't at its best. There may even be some meaningful games played in September or later. Barring catastrophic injuries or total on field mismanagement, this team will surprise. You heard it here first, mark it down.

Category: MLB

Since: Jan 11, 2010
Posted on: March 10, 2010 3:20 pm

Meet The 2010 AL East Champs: The Orioles

I sound good in all front when someone realize that - Hey, we are not suppose to be good and tumbling back to earth. Losing mentallity is still circling the O's Park - Until we have someone step up and pi**off at the MIC and show that not winning is not an excuse for growing as a young team. I don't see it in any of our player accept maybe/hope to be MR.Jones . I am counting on him to be the Vocal leader on and off the field. Character gots to show in order to Lead!  
85 wins is a stretch for us but 80 win will be a big improvement.
PS: i hope 80win doesnt buy Trembley another contract - Bring back Johnson or bring on Dempsey!

Since: Oct 29, 2009
Posted on: March 6, 2010 10:43 am

Meet The 2010 AL East Champs: The Orioles

The Orioles are certainly making changes for the better and I would love to see them improve.  I go to school in Baltimore and going to a game at Camden Yards is always lots of fun and with a winning team it would be phenominal.  I don't have much to add to your analysis, as I agree with it, but it will be extremely difficult to overcome teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox.  There should be no concern over the offense.  With guys like Adam Jones, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, that alone is a formidable setup.  We all know what Atkins did in Colorado a few seasons back, and Tejada has shown he can still hang with the .300 batting average.  And Wieters showed spectacular improvement over the course of last season. 

I love the addition of Millwood and the flux of young guns that should come into this season (Bergesen, Tillman, Matusz) makes for a very exciting time for Baltimore fans.  Change was necessary, and with new guys coming in and young players taking starting rolls, it's what Baltimore really needed. 

Since: Jun 18, 2007
Posted on: March 3, 2010 5:12 pm

Meet The 2010 AL East Champs: The Orioles

I liked your analysis. I certainly feel the Orioles will score runs and that their pitching will be better. The problem I have with your opinion that the Orioles will win the AL East, or at least have a chance, is that the Yankees will be as good as last year, the Red Sox are much improved, and the Rays should do better also. What that means is that the Orioles will probably finish Fourth at best somewhere between 15-20 games behind the leader.

They should certainly make progress and should climb over the Blue Jays, but it'll be a few years before they can match the Yankees or Red Sox and even a little while longer before they can seriously compete with the Rays.

I have always liked the Orioles and I would love to see them win the East, but I don't see that happening for some time yet.

Since: Jul 12, 2007
Posted on: March 2, 2010 11:45 am

Meet The 2010 AL East Champs: The Orioles

First off let me say i'm an O's fan,  have been all my life. But why do you think Atkins will bounce back, he was horrible last year and now he's moving from Colorado, where i could hit 20 hr's and he's learning a brand new position. Do i think Tejada coudl be better than Mora was last year? Yes--but that's not saying much...I do hope the young pitching comes through and then maybe we go for the division in 2011....

In Wieters we Trust..

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