Here are some observations as we look back on spring training so far and the completion of three weeks of games:
Starting Pitching Overall – This continues to be a pleasant surprise in the big picture of things. There are some lapses, but overall it has been quite encouraging – even with the loss of Zach Britton for the early portion of the season. A bit of the luster has come off Brian Matusz, but more than a few Orioles writers have identified his performance as the highlight of the Camp. Tillman has been excellent, and one has to wonder, if this keeps up, just how many guys will be working out next winter with Brady Anderson! Wei-Yin Chen seems very comfortable; Hunter appears ready to resume a full workload, and Arrieta is simply beastly. Duquette’s strategy of a large number of arms from which to choose seems to be bearing the desired fruit.
Relief Pitching Overall – This has also been largely encouraging. Jim Johnson has had some struggles, but I’m not worried that he will be anything but ready to go when the time comes. More than enough others have performed sufficiently to make for some very difficult decisions about whom to keep on the 25-man roster. I continue to hope Kevin Gregg will be helping us by “helping” some other team … maybe we can even get some sort of trade deal over the well-travelled Texas route. Koji Uehara has had a very difficult spring training out west – some speculating that his “feel” pitches don’t have “bite” in the dry air. It just has not worked out for him in Texas, so maybe both teams could solve a problem and get more bang for their buck. (Get it? More bang for their buck? Buck?… sorry, I digress.)
Hitting Overall – The first couple of weeks were a bit scary, but the past week of games has put the panic monster back in his cage. Like seasonal allergies, the hitters being behind the pitching is a common ailment. After all, every couple innings a fresh arm is coming at you! That cannot be sustained with a 12-man staff during the regular season.
Injuries – This feels to Orioles fan like the same song, next verse! Certainly the “ounce of prevention to avoid a pound of cure” philosophy prevails abundantly. But even a cursory reading of the blog pages of a few other teams quickly reveals that the Orioles are not unique when it comes to a crowded trainers’ room. Chavez is the one I’m going to look to hear about in coming days – hoping the groin injury is indeed small, as we need this guy to play a lot of baseball.
Brian Roberts – It is almost as if he has completely dropped off all radar! Little is written about him other than occasional comments about slow progress with this or that. It seems to me that anything that can possibly be written about him has been said already. He is pretty fully in the “bonus” category in terms of him ever playing with the Orioles again. Ugh! What a different feel the team would have were he to be fully healthy … there I go – writing some of that stuff that has been said hundreds of times!
Various Bullet Points about Various Players
- Jai Miller – now an injury, along with the strikeouts … does not look good to be kept
- Betemit – had a much better week
- Nick Johnson – looking good, feeling good – maybe he can rub off on Roberts about getting healthy after long-term difficulties … am hoping we can keep him
- Ryan Flaherty – I don’t think the Cubs are going to get him back. I enjoyed actually seeing him play – quick bat!
- Taylor Teagarden – Does not look at all possible to start the season with the team
The 25 Man Roster – I will make a Tuesday afternoon post on a revised guess as to who is making it.