1. Is Brian Matusz' 2009 performance more impressive than Matt Wieters' of 2008?
Lawrence Barreca: In some ways yes, and in other ways no. Both have taken the same sort of route, hitting Frederick and Bowie along the way, and both had similar results.
They both impressed more at the Double-A level than at the Single-A level, something that leaves fans with hope that they can grow into the superstars that will lead the O's to the playoffs in the future. In a way, they have had equal success in my mind.
Isaac Barrow: Yes, I think it is. Since May 26, Matusz is 5-0 with a 0.19 ERA. For me, all conversation stops there. Wieters was dominant, no doubt about it.
He batted .355 in the minors, including .365 at Double A, but a 0.19 ERA is equivalent to Wieters hitting a home run every game, which is basically what Matusz does every night on the mound these days.
I would say Matusz is more deserving of Minor League Player of the Year this year, especially because he's had to make adjustments. Last year, Wieters never really 'slumped.'
2. Did the Orioles deserve to have more than one All-Star?
Lawrence Barreca: Yes, the Orioles deserved to have more than one All-Star. They actually deserved to have five on the AL roster: Luke Scott, Adam Jones, Brad Bergesen, Nick Markakis, and George Sherrill. Then again the voting is a joke, so it wouldn't matter how these guys performed.
Isaac Barrow: I don't know exactly what the point would be of explaining why people deserve All-Star bids. Nick Markakis is deserving of a bid, as is George Sherrill, and Luke Scott.
Heck, you could make an argument for rookie pitcher Brad Bergesen, who has stepped it up big time for the O's in the absence of Koji Uehara. But, at the least, Sherrill, Markakis, and Scott deserved bids.
3. What's your assessment of Jake Arrieta's year so far?
Lawrence Barreca: Jake Arrieta has been solid thus far, and it is to the point where we are already discussing when his callup will occur.
Some people say Arrieta has the most potential out of "The Big Three," and so far I haven't seen anything to doubt it. To think he is projected to be the O's No. 3 starter is incredible.
Isaac Barrow: So far, he's lived up to my expectations. At 8-5, his record isn't exactly dominant, but it doesn't tell the story. He's got a 2.90 ERA, 98 strikeouts, and just 31 walks.
He has future ace potential, as do Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, and Chris Tillman. At this point, I see Arrieta as a future No. 2, and could be a No. 3 if Chris Tillman does as well as fans think he can. But, let it be known, Arrieta could be the most talented in the "trio."
4. What's your assessment of Chris Tillman's year so far?
Lawrence Barreca: Chris Tillman has been up and down in the "wins" column this season; however, he has been great on all other fronts. He has a new pitch this season, the changeup, and Tillman calls it his most effective pitch.
His K/BB ratio is also much better than in years past, and he should be considered in the next round of callups for the Birds. And to think this kid is still only 21 years old.
Isaac Barrow: Like Arrieta, Tillman's record isn't amazing. With seven wins and five losses, you wouldn't expect Tillman is the No. 8 prospect in all of baseball.
However, his 2.50 ERA tells another story: the story of how good Tillman truly is. He's also got 88 strikeouts and 22 walks, contributing to that story.
Technically, he's got a better strikeout-per-walk ratio (4.0) than Brian Matusz (3.96), who is primarily a strike thrower.
5. Should the O's make the Pie-Fields trade?
Lawrence Barreca: In a heartbeat. We could have a future 3B candidate for a fourth outfielder. Enough said.
Isaac Barrow: I don't think there should even be any discussion. Fields, while he hasn't lived up to the hype yet, has proven himself to some degree, just not with consistency.
Remember, in 2007, Fields hit 23 home runs as a utility infielder for the Chicago White Sox. Pie hasn't proven anything yet.
At this point, it's a potential future third baseman for a fourth outfielder, and third base is something the O's need for the future.
6. Thoughts on the Miguel Angel Sano sweepstakes?
Sano is being compared to Miguel Cabrera, and if he really is 16, we are looking at a future shortstop for 2014 and beyond, a point when the O's will be at their highest.
I say sign him to a Hobgood-like deal, and watch them both arrive in the Majors at the same time.
Isaac Barrow: It's nice to see the O's involved in the bidding wars overseas, whether it be with Koji Uehara, and now, Sano.
It'd be nice if the O's could sign him to a Hobgood-like contract (2.4M). Sano doesn't appear to be faking his age.
In interviews, he's appeared willing to be checked, so he looks like he has nothing to hide.
7. Between Bergesen and Reimold, which Oriole is most deserving of the Rookie of the Year Award?
Lawrence Barreca: For me, the most deserving has to be Bergesen. Reimold has been fantastic, don't get me wrong, but Bergesen has stepped up when the O's need him most.
With the losses of Guthrie and Koji in the rotation, BB has stepped up as the new ace, something a 23-year old would not normally do. He is also working with a relatively bad offense as of late, so the fact that he is even winning games astounds me.
This kid is the projected No. 5 once the Cavalry arrives; however, he is sure making some people re-think that statement.
Isaac Barrow: Both are plenty deserving, as Reimold has been one of the O's main sources of power, but Bergesen is more. He's been more consistent, and has provided something the O's need: pitching.
Except for Uehara at times, no one has been able to give the O's consistent quality starts. That, of course, was until Bergesen came up. He was respectable through his first few starts, but has been absolutely dominant of late.
8. If Izturis continues to play excellent defense, hit around the .260s and steal 25+ bases, would you see a problem with a three-year deal after the 2010 season?
Lawrence Barreca: Not really. Say we sign Sano. Next, the O's need a shortstop to fill in until he arrives. Why not hire the one guy that can play excellent defense on a nightly basis? If he hits around .260, it's just a bonus in my mind. I don't have a problem with it.
Isaac Barrow: I wouldn't mind it, but it has its problems. If Justin Turner, Blake Davis, and Greg Miclat develop, there will be a plethora of major league-worthy shortstops on the O's. Not to mention Robert Andino.
So, if Izturis is signed, the O's better hope Turner, Davis, Miclat, and 2009 second round pick Mychal Givens don't develop, because if Izturis is signed, there will be a roadblock.
9) Can Kam Mickolio be the future at closer?
Lawrence Barreca: He certainly can be. He has been nothing short of untouchable at the Major League level, and I expect him to be solid throughout the rest of the season. A Jim Johnson eighth and Mickolio ninth would be fun to watch.
Isaac Barrow: He definitely can be. Sherrill is a guy I see entering free agency or being traded soon. That could be at the trade deadline or after the year.
Mickolio is a guy I feel is ready. He made a mechanical tweak over the off-season, and you can see his delivery is more repeatable. And in two innings so far, he's retired all six batters he's faced.
10) What is up with Xavier Avery?
Lawrence Barreca: His .252 average is not the greatest, and only two home runs to show for the season will not get anyone excited, but I am not too concerned.
There should be no reason to worry, mainly because he's almost two years younger than Billy Rowell, and he has plenty of time to improve. I will start to worry if he follows in Rowell's tracks, though.
Isaac Barrow: He's been very inconsistent this year. He started out terribly. At the end of April, he was batting .185 with zero walks and 23 strikeouts, and despite starting the year as the leadoff man at Delmarva, he was moved down to seventh in the batting order.
In May, he heated up, batting .340 with nine RBI, and has cooled back down of late, and is hitting .252 with 23 steals on the year. He skipped a level, so I'm not too concerned.