I will start this off by saying that I am one of the people who thought Baltimore was going to take a giant leap forward this year, possibly finishing in third place in their division behind the Yankees and Red Sox.
With this being said, my prediction could not have been any farther from what actually happened this season to the O’s. Currently sitting with a record of 47-74 and 27 games behind the Yankees for first place in the division, Baltimore’s players would probably do more good working with their sand wedge than their bunting and fielding.
It has been a long season for the Orioles, dealing with injuries and under performing players as they seem to do year in and year out. After bringing in a high profile coach in Buck Showalter and a lot of expensive veteran talent, this season can only be described by one word: disappointment.
With all the problems Baltimore has faced, is it time for them to part ways with a lot of their main components and start over from square one?
Year after year, Orioles fans are disappointed by their teams output. This year was especially hard on Baltimore fans because a lot was expected from the squad. Something new needs to happen in the Baltimore to bring excitement back into Camden Yards.
There are a lot of players that need to be moved, but there is still a solid core of young and talented players that can be built around. If the players buy into Buck Showalter’s philosophy, and the right pieces are brought in, the team can turn around and bring some life back into the Inner Harbor.
Baltimore has a young and talented one-two punch at the start of their rotation. The powerful left arms of Zach Britton and Brian Matusz are two of the most exciting in the game and if they can stay away from injury, they will be the cornerstone of the rotation for next year and the foreseeable future. I think with the offseason just around the corner, both players will be able to rehab and gain strength, making them prime contenders to impact the 2012 Orioles.
On the offensive end, the Orioles have a poor man’s version of the Mets’ core trio. With the likes of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts, the Orioles have had three solid players who have battled injury and somewhat underperformed—much like the Mets’ Reyes, Beltran, and Wright combination. Like the New York version, it is also time for the Baltimore cast to be split up.
Markakis has always been an under performer and Brian Roberts has spent more time on the DL than he has on the diamond. I think both these players could be moved for solid young players who could take over and be major league ready in a few years. Adam Jones still had a lot of energy left for the game and is a versatile centerpiece that could bat anywhere in the lineup.
There are a few other players on the offense that should be kept and built around. JJ Hardy has been one of the bright spots for the O’s this year. After missing some time and getting off to a slow start, Hardy has come on strong with 23 home runs—one of the best shortstop totals in the entire MLB.
Another player who is needed to rebuild is Matt Wieters. He has started to live up to some of his former hype and this player once described as “Joe Mauer with Power” will be a big part of the Orioles offense going forward. He has taken command of the pitching staff and become an everyday player and fixture in the middle of the Baltimore lineup.
The rest of the offense I would have no problem moving for prospects—including Mark Reynolds and Luke Scott.
Scott is an often underrated player and he has some value to a team in need of a DH or a pinch hitter to come off the bench late in games. Reynolds has a lot of power potential, but he is very streaky and strikes out far too much to be an impact player on a consistent basis. He is another player who Baltimore could get good value for, which would help them build to the future.
The Orioles need to get younger and let Buck Showalter mold young players into the team that he wants. As this year proved, bringing in high cost veterans who are somewhat past their prime is no way to win in Baltimore—remember Vlad Guerrero and Derrek Lee?
If the Orioles refocus on their farm system and produce more players like Nolan Reimold and Zach Britton, they will be out of the cellar and climbing towards the top of the AL East.