After spring training and now the first five games of the season, there have been quite of number of questions answered about the 2012 Orioles. Overall, the beginning of the season has been more encouraging than not. But there is a series of major questions that yet remain about this team – questions to be hopefully answered by, say, Memorial Day weekend.
Will the starting pitchers be able to consistently go deeper into the games? – This is certainly the largest of all questions for the Orioles, as so much about every game rises and falls upon such. The first turn through the rotation was outstanding, with four of the five starters turning in excellent performances. There really is reason to believe that the Birds have definitively improved the team pitching.
Will the offense be able to maximize opportunities with clutch hitting? – The Orioles improved in this category significantly in 2011 over 2010, yet still need to break into the top half of the AL. The lack of a critical hit made all the difference in the game Tuesday night. In fact, the Orioles are so far batting but .146 with RISP (runners in scoring position), and were 0 for 8 in the 12-inning game against the Yankees. And if discount the 8-2 win over the Twins, the Birds have a RISP of .086 in the other four games – making a 2-2 record in those games a real bonus.
Will several players prove to be worthy of daily insertion in the starting lineup? – Chris Davis looks very confident in the field, but will his bat be sufficient? Will Nolan Reimold finally prove he should play every day in LF? Andino certainly looks like a more than capable second baseman! And will the team be able to afford to leave Reynolds at 3rd base? His two errors have already cost the team four unearned runs, and he could in fact have the loss of the Tuesday game laid at his defensive feet. Those tying runs also cost the team three extra innings of relief pitchers, and in a losing cause – ugh! It is not a small concern.
Will the Orioles be better able to compete against the AL East? In 2011, the Orioles played the Rays at .500, but won only 5 against the Yankees, with 6 against Toronto and 7 against Boston. So that is 27-45, which is .435. Against the rest of the league they were 42-48, or .467. The Orioles play a total of 26 games against the division by the end of May. If the team could win, say, 12 of these games, they could be well along toward a much better season.
Will Kevin Gregg be worthy of a spot on the roster? And will he be able to calm the rather universal dislike from Orioles fans? I am not hopeful for this to be a positive – believing that if it was going to happen, it would have happened by now. It is pretty clear that the Orioles can’t even give him away. I’d love to be so, so wrong on this one; but I do not anticipate having to write a retraction someday.
Will Zach Britton be able to come back from the shoulder issues and be a factor this year? It is a good question. I don’t know what to say about it … we just all need to wait and see.
Is there any realistic reason to ever hope to see Roberts return? There is hope, and I do believe we have not seen the last of Roberts. But my guess is that the wear and tear of the game will lead ultimately to a scenario where he re-injures the brain, and that will be the final end.
Will the leadoff batter situation be satisfactorily resolved? Watching Jeter play reminds us of what a leadoff guy should be able to do. We just don’t have that person or anything close to it. Somehow, our best hope is to find someone to be adequate.
Will BirdsWatcher become the ultimate “go to” Orioles blog? Now that’s a stupid question. Of course it will!