The Orioles projected lineup features three switch hitters (Brian Roberts, Greg Zaun, Cesar Izturis), four left-handed hitters (Aubrey Huff, Luke Scott, Nick Markakis, Felix Pie), and two right-handed hitters (Melvin Mora, Adam Jones).
Oriole’s manager, Dave Trembley, is thinking that O's will go with a 13-man pitching staff. That leaves a three-man bench that will probably consist of Ryan Freel, Chris Gomez, and a backup catcher.
I believe that the O’s should go with a four-man bench. If they stay with the three, there is going to be such an offense drop when they face a southpaw. Pie and Scott have never have hit them well. They will likely be out of the lineup against them.
That means that Freel replaces Pie while Gomez replaces Scott. Freel and Pie are going to be a solid platoon all year. They are probably going to hit about the same while playing exceptional defense. The problem is that you are going to lose a lot of offensive production with Gomez being in the lineup instead of Scott.
The Orioles need to add another right handed bat with some pop. The answer could come from within the organization with Lou Montanez or Oscar Salazar.
I think that Montanez needs more seasoning at Triple-A. He had an impressive 2008 Double A campaign with the Bowie Baysox. He won the Triple Crown in the Eastern League with a line (BA 335 HR 26 RBI 97). This will be his second go around at Triple-A.
In 2007, he hit (BA 259 HR 7 RBI 26) in 212 at bats. At 27, he needs to show the organization that last season wasn’t a fluke. He performed well when he got called up by the O’s in August. His stats were (BA 295 HR 3 RBI 14) in 112 at bats. I think the Orioles would be wise to let him play every day at Triple A.
He was third overall pick in the 2000 draft by the Chicago Cubs. So the talent has always been there.
Oscar Salazar has proven himself in the minor leagues. I am surprised a national league team didn’t pick him up when he was put on waivers last week with the signing of Greg Zaun.
He would give any club a right handed bench with some pop off the bench. Salazar is a very versatile player in playing first and third base. His numbers at Triple A last year were (BA 316 HR 13 RBI 85).
He tore up the Venezuelan Winter League this winter with stats (BA 352 6 HR RBI 26) in a 179 at bats. In his call up this year he hit (BA 284 HR 5 RBI 15) in 81 at bats. He would provide a nice late inning pitch hitting option for Izturis late in the game. Trembley loved his bat last spring and could be a great addition to a rebuilding team.