The Baltimore Orioles had a pretty disappointing season, but fans pretty much expected that from the outset after the team downsized by shipping off former MVP Miguel Tejada and 2007 Cy Young candidate Erik Bedard, mostly for prospects.
They finished 68-93, 28.5 games behind the first-place Rays. Their record would have placed them last or next-to-last in every division in baseball.
For years, Baltimore has been waiting for right-handed fireballer Daniel Cabrera to come around. He has yet to do so after showing some flashes of life early this year.
He had an inconsistent rookie year in 2004, going 12-8 with an ERA of five. Orioles fans, like myself, were looking forward to 2005—Cabrera's first full season. He has all the tools—size (he's 6'11"), a fastball (over 100 mph at times), and some pretty decent secondary pitches. All he had to do was use his mind a little bit, field his position decently, mix his pitches well enough, and even be effectively wild. He didn't do any of those things.
He has tools most big-league pitchers only dream of having, and he is 48-59 with a 5.05 career ERA. Why, you ask? He does the opposite of what a talented pitcher does. He can't field his position, doesn't use his brain, doesn't hold runners, is wild, and has terrible pitch selection.
My advice to the Baltimore Orioles on Cabrera: Get rid of him! Whether it means a trade or just cutting him, get Cabrera off the roster. It clears a spot in the rotation for somebody else, who will likely be better than Cabrera.
Right now, anything is better then Cabrera! In his first 12 starts, he was 5-1 with an ERA of 3.60. In his last 19 starts, he was 3-9 with a 6.57 ERA. O's management, fans, and teammates want to know the real Daniel Cabrera. Honestly, I think we already do, and he's just not worth our time.
Also, Jamie Walker. The guy is washed up. In 59 games this year, he had a 6.87 ERA and a 1-3 record. He was the worst bullpen guy on the O's, and that is saying something. The O's have had one of the worst bullpens in the AL the last two seasons. Walker, 37, only makes it worse. Get rid of him, too.
Andy MacPhail finally came along with the rebuilding attitude. However, only two regulars are younger than 30 in the batting order. Call me crazy, but I'd get rid of everyone except Brian Roberts.
Yes, that means I'd get rid of Aubrey Huff, Ramon Hernandez, Kevin Millar, Jay Payton, Melvin Mora, Juan Castro, and Luke Scott. Why? If you are serious about rebuilding, you don't need them on your team.
Huff had an amazing year this year, but I personally think it was a fluke. Millar, Payton, Mora, and Castro are over 35. Hernandez has tired Orioles fans with his lack of hustle, clutch ability, and drive. Scott is the least clutch player on the team and plays a terrible left field.
It also opens up a spot for left fielder and a huge talent in Lou Montanez, who impressed Orioles fans, coaches, and teammates with his defense, hitting, and drive.
So, who do you get to replace these regulars? Well, Aubrey Huff is a DH, and you could use a top prospect for that position, such as Nolan Reimold, who set a Bowie Baysox team record for his performance in the playoffs and hit 25 homers last year.
If you're an Orioles fan, you know who replaces Ramon Hernandez. Matt Wieters (aka the No. 1 prospect in baseball, Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, htting .355 with 27 home runs, 91 RBI and an 82:76 BB:K ratio in 130 games).
To replace Millar, you have Oscar Salazar. I'd also consider calling up Mike Costanzo and moving him from third to first base. To replace Payton as the backup center fielder, you have either Tike Redman (who has major league experience), Chris Roberson (20 steals in AAA), or Jeff Fiorentino.
To replace Mora, you have Scott Moore, Jeff Nettles, or Mike Costanzo, if you want to keep him at third. To replace Castro, you have a talented defensive whiz in Brandon Fahey already on the team. To replace Scott, you, of course, have sweet-swinging Lou Montanez.
So the starting lineup would be:
C Matt Wieters: 27 HR, 91 RBI, .355 (A+ and AA)
1B Oscar Salazar: 13 HR, 85 RBI, .315 (AAA)
2B Brian Roberts: 9 HR, 57 RBI, .296, 40 SB (MLB)
SS Brandon Fahey: 0 HR, 12 RBI, .226 (MLB)
3B Scott Moore: 7 HR, 44 RBI, .247 (AAA)
LF Lou Montanez: 29 HR, 111 RBI, .327 (AA, MLB) Eastern League MVP
CF Adam Jones: 9 HR, 57 RBI, .270 (MLB)
RF Nick Markakis: 20 HR, 87 RBI, .306 (MLB)
DH Nolan Reimold: 25 HR, 84 RBI, .284 (AA)
That is an incredibly talented lineup when you look top-to-bottom. I also would re-sign Adam Jones and Nick Markakis to long contracts. They are the faces of the franchise offensively and one of the best CF/RF duos in the majors.
As for the rotation, I would make a major adjustment: BEN SHEETS! The O's need to either sign him or an experienced starting pitcher who is proven, such as Sheets, Jon Garland, or CC Sabathia, but it's very unlikely the O's will land CC.
I wouldn't mess with the other guys a lot, except getting Brian Burres off the team and letting Chris Waters go as a free agent. That would make the rotation look like this:
No. 1 Jeremy Guthrie
No. 2 Ben Sheets/Jon Garland/CC Sabathia
No. 3 Brian Bass
No. 4 Radhames Liz
No. 5 Troy Patton/Garrett Olson
The closer situation is a good one to have a problem with. The O's will have two healthy closers in George Sherrill and Chris Ray.
If I'm an Orioles fan, I personally want Ray. After the All-Star Game, Sherrill had an ERA over seven and had three saves, finishing with 31. I would trade Sherrill. I'm not sure why MacPhail didn't immediately after the All-Star Game, when his stock was the highest.
Right now, his stock is still pretty high. Still, he had a fluke year and is the opposite of a workhorse. Fact: He's never thrown over 50 innings. I want Chris Ray as the closer.
I know looking down the lineup, you think: That's not a competitive team, is it? No, it's not. But it gives the O's young prospects some confidence going into 2010 and 2011 to become great.