Playing Pepper 2010: Baltimore Orioles
So this year, I've brought Playing Pepper back, with a little bit of a twist. Instead of five questions, I posed 10 questions, and this year every team got the same set. Plus, tapping into those BBA connections, I sent them to every blogger representing that team in the BBA.
We'll try to do two a day in a general alphabetical order, but things may change depending on responses.
2009 Finish: 64-98, fifth in the AL East
The Orioles have a tough lot in life, living as they do in the AL East. It's been a long time since they've been able to say they were playing meaningful baseball down the stretch, much less October. Now, they risk being overshadowed in their own backyard by the arrival of phenom/franchise savior Stephen Strasburg in Washington.
However, the Orioles are making strides, led by their own phenom, Matt Wieters. I contacted Daniel of Camden Crazies and posed to him the Playing Pepper Ten.
CC: I'd give the O's a C for the offseason. Some of the moves were OK at best (like the Tejada signing or the Millwood trade), but some others moves were not so good (the Mike Gonzalez signing or the Atkins signing). There was nothing they did that I was really excited about, but you can't pull off an Erik Bedard type trade every year. It was more about picking up some stop-gaps and waiting for the kids to develop (which is the plan, after all).
C70: What is the key to success for 2010?
CC: Development of the young players is the name of the game, and that really has little to do with the team's record. If most of those guys take a step forward and the team still losses 90 games then 2010 will still probably count as a success.
C70: What will be the team's strength?
CC: The outfield should be strong, with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, and Felix Pie out there. They have a chance to be a good deal above average both offensively and defensively (especially the latter, if Pie gets a fair amount of playing time).
C70: What could be their Achilles' heel?
CC: As has been the case for several years now, the starting pitching may struggle. It's very possible that a rookie like Brian Matusz may be the team's best starter - and still only be about league average.
C70: Who will be the team's MVP?
CC: Nick Markakis in all likelihood, though if Matt Wieters breaks out a little be might be the team's most valuable player by virtue of playing the toughest position on the field while having an above average bat.
C70: Will a rookie make a significant impact on the team in 2010, and if so, who?
CC: Brian Matusz got some inning at the big league level last year, but he still technically qualifies as a rookie. He might be one of the favorites to not only have a significant impact on the Orioles, but to win the league Rookie of the Year award as well.
C70: Who will be the breakout player for the team?
CC: Wieters probably has the most potential to really break out compared to his performance last year, but with so many young players on the team there is a lot of upside spread throughout the roster.
C70: Which player will drop off the most from 2009?
Kevin Millwood is getting up there in age, and it's very doubtful that he can repeat his shiny ERA from last year or the almost 200 innings he pitched. His underlying performance for Texas wasn't spectacular though, so while he might drop off quite a bit in perception it might not be so much in value. No Orioles had a really great 2009 though, so I don't think there's a ton of down-side.
C70: Who is the most likely player to be dangled as trade bait?
CC: Everyone over 30 is probably going to be up for grabs, though given the depth in the outfield I think Luke Scott is definitely going to be a candidate to be traded - especially if he gets off to a good start.
C70: What will be the team's final record and divisional standing?
CC: Right now I have them set to about 77 wins, which might well be enough to take 4th place from the Blue Jays (thought it could be close). Anything in the mid 70s would be fine with me, and a .500 record isn't out of the question.
My thanks to Daniel for taking the time to talk about the Orioles. There may yet be some interesting baseball played in the Charm City this year!
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