The Baltimore Orioles are very close to re-emerging as a force in the American League East. They have the core of a solid lineup in place. The offense is led my right fielder Nick Markakis (.293/.347/.453) and features several emerging young hitters.
Matt Wieters will catch and although he did not look like it in 2009 could be the best hitter on the team. Adam Jones , the center fielder who constantly frustrated the Seattle Mariners with his injuries and uninspiring performances, was arguably one of the best hitters in baseball for the first two months of the season. Left fielder Nolan Reimold led the team with a .365 wOBA (of players with at least 140 at-bats) and an .831 OPS.
Veteran second baseman Brian Roberts continues to be a steady presence in the lineup providing surprising power and steals in bunches. Luke Scott (.229 ISO) enjoyed his first season in the AL very much, providing power from multiple positions(but mostly DH).
The 2009 rotation fronted by names like Jeremy Guthrie , Jason Berken , Brad Bergesen , David Hernandez and Rich Hill was largely a disaster. None of these guys were very successful but they won’t need to be in 2010 when a highly touted group of pitching prospects is expected to have a major impact on the future of the Baltimore Orioles.
Brian Matusz , Chris Tillman , Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton should debut in 2010. These names should be on the long-term radar of fantasy owners searching for the next Felix Hernandez , Jon Lester or Brandon Webb .
Fans of other teams or (ones too young to remember) may forget just how much financial muscle the Orioles can muster. It was not that long ago that the Orioles had one of the highest payrolls in baseball. They can hang with the big boys in the AL East when they judge that it is once again time to reach into the wallet for that missing slugger or ace starter. This is very important. Unlike the Tampa Bay Rays or Minnesota Twins who struggle to hang on their talent past their arbitration years, the Orioles can go dollar for dollar with almost anyone.