Every baseball fan has seen the expected emergence of the Tampa Bay Rays. They're young, talented, hungry, and enthusiastic all at once. They are comfortably sitting atop the AL Wild Card Standings, and are not too far behind they Red Sox for the AL East lead. How did they get here?
Simple, a lot of losing seasons that brought a lot of high draft picks. In fact, since their creation in 1996, they have had ten Top-10 picks in the first round. Four of those were the #1 pick.
This situation seems to fit the criteria of the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles. Since 2001, the O's have had 7 Top-10 picks in the first round (though none being the first overall selection in the Draft).
Both of these teams have all the talent, just not in the right place. Atleast not for Baltimore. But soon enough, the Baltimore Orioles will join the ranks of those like the Rays, when all the right pieces start to fit the puzzle again.
Both of these teams are on the right track, starting young and inexperienced with some of the better talent in all of baseball. They both have even had a uniform change. Well, atleast next year the Orioles will, when the city of "Baltimore" will finally be put back on the road jerseys, just like in the good ole' days.
But before I just end this article, let's first compare each team based on players and the position of the team.
Let's start with the outfield:
Rays: Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Eric Hinske
Orioles: Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Luke Scott
These two outfields are very much alike in just the way they look. Sure, Markakis and Crawford don't play in the same corner; however, these two players impact a team like no others. They are both #2 hitters with good pop in their bats, great speed, and not to mention the Gold Glove defense.
Next we go with Upton and Jones. Two young stars who were originally infielders (B.J. Upton- former SS and 2B; Adam Jones- former SS) that have made the transition to center field. Both of these men have 25+ homerun potential, with cannon arms, lightning speed, and great concentration. Not to mention both are still very young.
Finally Luke Scott and Eric Hinske. Two power bats that have found their relative places on their new teams. Both have great arms, can make a play, and are great veterans (if they are even old enough to qualify as that).
Now the infield:
How can we not start with the top prospects, Evan Longoria and Matt Wieters. As Wieters makes his way up to the pros, Longoria is proving why he deserved such a big contract for the long-term. What both of these players have in common is that they are filling (or going to fill) gaping holes in their current team's infield.
Actually, the Rays had a hole at 2B, until Akinori Iwamura moved in and left Longoria the new 3B job. Wieters is going to simply move into Ramon Hernandez's spot sometime within the next 2-3 years.
As we move across the diamond, both teams have offensive problems at SS, quality leadoff hitters at 2B (Orioles- Brian Roberts; Rays- Akinori Iwamura) and power hitters at 1B (Orioles- Aubrey Huff; Rays- Carlos Pena).
Now the pitching staff (bullpen and starting rotation):
Everytime I think about the future of these two staffs, it amazes me. Here is what I predict their rotations to look like in 2010 (these are just my personal opinions, so please do not badly criticize me if you think that I'm wrong):
1) Scott Kazmir
2) James Shields
3) Matt Garza
4) Andy Sonnanstine
5) David Price (2007 #1 overall pick)
1) Jeremy Guthrie
2) Brian Matusz (2008 #4 overall pick)
3) Chris Tillman
4) Garrett Olson
5) Jake Arrieta
I can't say enough about the potential that these rotations have.
These two teams are both currently in the Top-5 bullpen ERA's in the American League. Both teams have newly acquired closers (Orioles- George Sherrill; Rays- Troy Percival) and have revamped for the better. The O's pen consists of a younger bunch; however, both are extremely effective.
So, are we in for another version of the Rays? O's fans, hold on to your seats, cause it's gonna be a fun ride when this team finally comes together.
Be open about your ideas and let me know what you think these starting rotations might look like. Thanks!!!