For Baltimore Orioles fan, the past 11 seasons—and counting—have been quite painful. What once was one of baseball's winningest franchises, Baltimore has succumbed to a number of factors that have led to 11 straight losing seasons.
Between awful management—i.e. signing Albert Belle and trading John Maine for Kris Benson—it's affiliation with the game's hardest division, and a lack of developing its own talent, the O's have had trouble turning the corner.
With that said, this is actually an exciting time for the Baltimore faithful. The organization is loaded with young talent that is ready to turn things around.
I believe that next year, this franchise will FINALLY get that elusive winning season. In 2011, the team should be ready to compete for the AL East crown. Camden Yards will be reminiscent of the early 90's when the stadium would sell out every night and was filled with Orioles fans.
As of now, the 2011 lineup projects with stars all over the place, highlighted by the talented outfield trio of Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis. One of the faces of this franchise, Brian Roberts will still be hitting lead-off. Roberts and Markakis both inked contract extensions in the winter, signaling to the fans that they want to win in Baltimore.
Matt Wieters will be entering his third year behind the plate and will most likely have established himself as a force to be reckoned with.
The rest of the lineup remains a toss up right now with question marks at shortstop and third base. Hot-hitting prospect Brandon Snyder is a good possibility at first base. He was tearing the cover off the ball at AA and recently was promoted to AAA.
The pitching staff is what has plagued the Orioles in the past. This certainly shouldn't be the case in 2011. With Bradley Bergesen establishing himself as a bonifide Major League pitcher and a plethora of pitching prospects waiting in the wings, the 2011 team will be like the throwback Orioles teams that won the game with pitching and defense.
Between Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Troy Patton, David Hernandez, and Brandon Erbe, there is a good chance that the O's will finally have some legitimate front of the line young starters to anchor the pitching staff.
And now, we Orioles fans wait and watch with excitement and the hope of finally watching this team turn into a contender. In Andy (MacPhail) we trust!
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