Baltimore Orioles will remember 2009 as the year of Matt Wieters. The catcher’s long awaited arrival should come in May or June. Many have compared Wieters to Joe Mauer with power, and the team will look to him to provide the team with a boost heading into the midsummer days.
With three Spring Training games remaining, the Orioles are set to enter the regular season with two-fifths of what can make up a successful starting rotation. The team has had a few problems finding the other three starters, however.
Orioles' ace Jeremy Guthrie had a rocky spring that was interrupted by his participation in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA. Through 15 and a third innings this spring, Guthrie went 1-2 with a 10.57 ERA and 14 strikeouts. Guthrie is entering his second season as the team’s ace, after leading the team with ten wins in 2008 with a 3.62 ERA.
The Orioles signed Koji Uehara from Japan this off-season, and he will assume the role of second starter after a successful spring. Adam Eaton, Mark Hendrickson, Danys Baez will likely round out the rotation. The O’s will look to lefty Rich Hill to provide a boost when he comes off the 15-day disabled list.
Except for the glaring whole still present at shortstop, the Orioles have to feel good about their offense and fielding. Aubrey Huff put up MVP type numbers a season ago, batting .304 with 32 bombs and 108 RBI.
Brian Roberts has been a top second baseman in the league for the past three years, and can be expected to bat near .300 with more than 35 stolen bases once again.
Right fielder Nick Markakis leads an up-and-coming outfield that will be rounded out by center fielder Adam Jones, and left fielder Felix Pie. The Orioles will need Markakis to hit the ground running and continue to put up All Star number throughout the season if they want to win any games.
Adam Jones is a versatile player who can bat leadoff, second, or lower in the order, depending on how manager Dave Trembley sees the match up. Luke Scott handled the left field duties last season, but will likely DH for most games this year, and let Felix Pie assume the role of the third outfielder.
Veteran third baseman Melvin Mora will need to continue to lead this team in the way he has in the past. Last season he batted .285 with 23 home runs and 104 RBI. The Orioles will need him to put up similar numbers this year, especially if he will be batting fifth.
Last season George Sherrill did an excellent job as closer and will remain as such this year, despite the return of 2007 closer Chris Ray. Ray will be relegated to set-up man. Much of the rest of the bullpen is still wide open.
For the Orioles to have success this year, they need a couple starting pitchers to step up and show they are ready to go out and be dependable every fifth day. Otherwise, the team is looking at a barrage of pitchers moving in and out of the rotation, much like last season.