Showalter's First Offseason with Orioles Provides Hope for Baltimore Faithful

Alex HallCorrespondent IIIMarch 11, 2011

BALTIMORE - AUGUST 22:  Matt Wieters #32 of the Baltimore Orioles talks with manager Buck Showalter during a pitching change in the game against the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards on August 22, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Rangers beat the Orioles 6-4.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

New Orioles manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles front office have been uncharacteristically aggressive during the entirety of the MLB offseason.

The team has been busy acquiring respectable and household names to don the orange and black this year.

Since the last years of the Cal Ripken era, Baltimore has struggled to stay out of the basement of the AL East standings. They have finished in either last or second to last in nine out of the past 10 seasons and, needless to say, without a playoff berth.

The Orioles haven't been in the MLB postseason since Bill Clinton was in office and Seinfeld was still making new episodes.

However, with the team's front office convincing legendary manager Buck Showalter to leave the cozy confines of the ESPN studio and get back into the dugout, coupled with an offseason of respectable acquisitions, this team appears to be on an upward trend.

When Showalter was named as the manager towards the tail end of last season, the once laughable squad in place began to rise to the occasion in games and went on a well-publicized winning streak, having an impressive run the last few weeks of August into September.

That run provided the state of Maryland hope towards next season for the first time since they saw their beloved No. 8 in uniform at Camden Yards, and there's now reason to believe in this team for the first time in a decade.

The Orioles were able to sign big-name bats such as Derek Lee, Vladimir Guerrero and Mark Reynolds and were also able to hold on to Adam Jones while acquiring respectable hurlers such as Kevin Gregg and Justin Duchscherer.

Now, Vlad and Derek Lee certainly aren't apart of the future in Baltimore, but they do add respect to the Orioles lineup and Guerrero gives this team a home run possibility every time he steps up to the plate.

Reynolds is extremely hack-happy (look at his career batting average if you don't believe me), but when he makes contact, he has a good chance of hitting the ball into the cheap seats.

Gregg can be shaky at times (hence his 3.57 ERA last season), but you can't downplay his 37 saves with Toronto in 2010. Duchscherer is a respectable talent when he's healthy and is a much better option in the rotation than Kevin Millwood, who was part of the teams house cleaning this offseason.

In just a few month's time, this O's team has gone from the bottom dwellers of the American League East to a respectable team with names that can not only put fans in the seats, but could very well contend with the likes of conference foes Toronto and Tampa Bay.

With the big-name acquisitions coming to town and building on the talent already in place, the fans of Baltimore finally have a team they can be proud of and enjoy watching in Camden this season.