Is there anyone in Baltimore that doesn’t want to be Buck Showalter? Come on, he has the best job in the state and is the best at what he does. Even when you have the greatest job and are the best at what you do, you still have work to do.
With close to a dozen players that will be “Welcomed to Baltimore,” by Jim Hunter on Opening Day, Buck needs to figure out where, when, and how to play them.
His first step is, of course:
The Active Roster:
With pitchers and catchers reporting to Sarasota last week, Buck’s job is now to cut down the roster to the 25 men who will be in Tampa Bay on the season’s first game.
Here are my 25 men:
This one is pretty obvious, right? Even though Matt is still waiting for his breakout season, there still isn’t very many catchers in the league better. Wieters is most likely the best catcher in the AL East and can only get better. His defense behind the plate is superb and his arm is getting to be the best in the game. Ask Carl Crawford.
It’s hard to say anything bad about Jake Fox besides the fact that he is a sub-par baseball player. Fox’s versatility and reputation as gamer will win him the back-up catcher position, defeating the reigning Craig Tatum. Fox has the ability to back-up Reynolds at third and Lee at first.
We all know Brian Roberts is making the team. This one is easier than the Matt Wieters one. Roberts is entering his 11th major league season with the Orioles.
The Orioles didn’t pay D-Lee millions to just cut him in the spring. Lee will be entering his 15th major league season, his first with the Orioles and in the American League.
Orioles fans were excited when they were able to land Reynolds for next to nothing (well, nothing we really wanted to keep unless Hernandez Curt-Schillings us). The only 2010 “All-Star” (yes, All-Star is in quotes for a reason) for the Orioles, Ty Wigginton, walked in the offseason and found a home in Colorado where he can go back to being mediocre. Reynolds hopefully will make us forget about Wigginton and his 2010.
The only thing in the infield that will resemble a positional battle will be at shortstop between Hardy and Izturis. Hardy has the ability to be an All-Star with his bat and that is exactly why the Orioles brought him in.
Even though the O’s wanted a better bat at short and left Izturis without a contract, they still brought him back because of his glove. Izturis makes the club as the fifth infielder.
There is actually a pretty tight match-up for the final infield spot for the O’s between Robert Andino and Josh Bell. Andino wins it because of his ability to play both second base and shortstop. If Brian Roberts needs a few days off like he has needed in past season, Andino will be the one who has to fill-in. Izturis would not be able to play second, he has played only twelve innings there since 2002 and Hardy has never played second. Josh Bell’s poor 2010 performance, although showed some glimmers of hope, puts him back in Norfolk. The fact that Jake Fox is able to both catch and play third really hurts Bell’s chances.
Adam showed some struggles in 2010, particularly on defense and with the breaking pitch in the dirt, but he certainly has the tools to bounce back. The Gold Glover will be (or should be) playing back on defense even more this season and should be conscious of the fact that pitchers look to get him out with the breaking pitch (LAY OFF IT!).
With Derrek Lee falling to first base, Reynolds to third, and Vlad to DH, Scott is left to battle with Felix Pie for the left field spot. Even though Scott isn’t the most fleet footed defender, he still edges Pie with his raw power and great 2010.
Pie has the distinction of being the 4th outfielder for the Orioles, defeating Nolan Reimold. We don’t know what exact happened to Reimold last season with both his bat and his glove, but Pie is only getting better. I see a relationship blossoming between him and Vladimir, which would be amazing for the Orioles’ and Pie’s future. HIP HIP! PIE!
We paid him $8 million to come here and have a Vlad-esque season. Personally, after watching the press conference and him take BP in Sarasota, I don’t think he wants to be here.
Jeremy Guthrie – silent but deadly.
Matusz has teased us with his talents since he arrived in the majors. Many believe that 2011 will be his big season. Hopefully he doesn’t make us wait like Wieters.
The big pitching gamble for 2011 is Justin Duchscherer. He was once very good in Oakland then ran into some mental and physical health issues. Of course the O’s aren’t expecting the All-Star Duke-shur (pronunciation), but they are looking for a solid, non-Millwood season.
Just like Reimold, Bergesen struggled a bit after a great rookie season. He had to make his way, again, from AAA to the majors last season, and was able to work out a couple kinks in his mechanics. Brad does need to watch his back this spring. He has a few young guys who could leapfrog him.
We fell in love with Arrieta and his ‘stache in his first half-season at the major league level. With his first full season looming, he still, also, needs to watch his back for other up and comers. He can’t mail-in this spring.
The O’s hope that this year their closer signing actually doesn’t suck.
Koji found his home in the bullpen last season and will stay there in 2011. The O’s paid him a nice bit of money to stay there, too. Let’s just hope that it’s a mild Baltimore summer this year. #cantpitchinwarmweather #twitterhashtagalert #followme @sportsnickelTim.
We love to hate him … well, we just kind of hate him but then forgot all about him … but he is going to make the Orioles out of spring! YAY! In his defense, he may have ruined Opening Day for the largest crowd in Oriole Park history as well was the entire city of Baltimore, but from July 27 til the end of the year, Gonzo held opponents to a .151 batting average and held a 2.57 ERA.
What we have learned in seasons passed is that Jim Johnson is allergic to closing. Before we started to experiment with Johnson as the closer, he was the best pitcher out of the pen. Good thing we have a crapton of guys who can close.
Berken was the lights out guy of the first half of 2010 for the O’s. He should have been the All-Star, not Wigginton. It may sound rude, but hopefully we don’t see much of Berken this season. If the starters go 6+ innings, Berken can sit and rest.
Here’s another former closer that is going to working out of the Baltimore pen. He probably won’t get the chance to close, and will be sharing time with Berken in middle innings.
Rick Vanden Hurk:
He’s gonna be the long man. Well, if he beats out Mark Hendrickson. He better beat Hendrickson.