Brian Matusz - Ace
Chris Tillman - #2
Jake Arrieta - #3
Brad Bergesson - #4
Troy Patton - #5
Chris Britton, Brandon Erbe, Jake Hobgood - Long Relief / Starter
Cla Meredith - Setup
Kam Mickolio - All Star Closer
Brandon Snyder - All Star First Base
Josh Bell - Slugging Third Baseman
Nolan Reimold - All Star Left Fielder
Adam Jones - Perennial All Star Center Fielder
Matt Weiters - Future Hall Of Fame Catcher
O's record: 98-64 playoff birth
Does this look familiar to anyone? It should since this is the picture I get after reading all the articles on Bleacher Report. While I adore my O's and would love for this scenario to come to fruition, still I can't help but feel that maybe we are jumping the gun a little bit. I mean most of these guys haven't even sniffed major league talent yet. Others have just been called up, but other than sell seats, have not really produced.
The other day I was reading an article about how Chris Tillman's debut was actually a good start. 4.2 innings pitched, 3 earned runs on three home runs, 7 hits and only 2 k's to 1 walk. And a loss. I promise you that if Daniel Cabrera was on the mound O's fans around the world would be calling for his head. So you'll tell me it was only his first start. EXACTLY. I remember back in 2001 when Rick Bauer was called up to make his debut against the Mariners. He pitched a gem going 6.2 innings allowing one run on three hits. Of course the O's managed to get him his first loss getting blanked and losing 1-0. But Bauer, as we all know, did not exactly end up as our ace. In fact the only decent year he had was his next year out of the bullpen when he managed to keep his ERA just under 4. Another guy is Kam Mickolio who has exactly ONE inning of major league experience and people are saying that he's the closer of the future.
The O's have also had uber-talented prospects before. Anyone remember Matt Riley? After being drafted by the O's in 1997, Riley went on to tear up the minor leagues. He was dubbed the best Oriole prospect in 99 and 00. Some even said he had one of the best curveballs in baseball. But after being called up at the age of 20 he absolutely tanked. Even after being sent back down to the minors, he just couldn't hack it in the majors. There have been other prospects too. Beau Hale was taken in the first round of 2000 and the team had very hopes for him. But after a couple of injuries he just fell off the face of the Earth. There was also the highly touted Hayden Penn who was deemed too valuable to be traded for A.J. Burnett. There have also been position players like Keith Reed, Ryan Minor and Eli Whitside.
And that leads me to the next type of player who, like Bergassen and Reimolds, have had success for a short period of time. After the O's traded B.J. Ryan, the O's called up Chris Ray and the guy had an All Star year and people were saying that we found our Mariano Rivera. The next year he had a shoulder injury and now he switches off struggling between accuracy and injury problems. Adam Loewen, when he was first called up, was dubbed the Yankee Killer. Every time he would face them he would dominate them. But after that they figured out that if you didn't swing at his pitches you could get walked. The funny thing about rookies, especially pitchers, is that you would think that their first year is the hardest, which mentally it is. But the thing is that nobody has ever seen you before and doesn't know what to expect. The sophomore year is the hard year when every has seen you already and is adjusting to you. A lot of players who have had success in their rookie years aren't able to adjust to the other guys adjustments and don't pan out (Louis Matos is another guy who comes to mind).
Being that this is my first article and I'm not interested in making everyone here hate me, I was hesitant in writing this, but after the trade of George Sherill for two guys ranked 8 and 15 in the Dodgers farm (mind you that's after they called up a bunch of guys in the past couple of years) and people praising it as an amazing trade, I felt the need to say slow down. Yes I also feel that some of these guys like Matusz, Jones, Weiters and Reimold will be very good players in the future. And yes I know that after 11 losing seasons there is nothing nicer than seeing a rebuilding project that works. But at this point, where the O's are still double digits away from the fourth place team, and we have only seen a few of these players, getting your hopes too high on this club is very risky. However bad the O's have been the past years, we didn't expect any better. But if we get our hopes too high on the future Birds, our hopes might be dashed. And you can ask the Yankees, that there is nothing worse than failed expectations.