Why the skepticism for “this year’s” Orioles?
First and foremost, I’d like to wish all of Birdland a very Happy New Year, 2013! It’s always impossible for me to imagine at this time a year that a new calendar year is upon us. With that said, everything that the Baltimore Orioles accomplished in 2012 is thus officially last year. In a way that’s kind of sad in that the O’s went on such a magical run. However there’s good news in this story as well…we can now refer to the 2013 season as this year as opposed to next year.
The point of this exercise is not a lesson in proper syntax. However as much as the national media and some members of the fanbase want to complain that nothing has been done in terms of free agency and/or trades to this point, Orioles fans do have a lot to look forward to this year. I think that a lot of people tend to look at the team that was on the field at Yankee Stadium in October as what we’re going to see right off the bat in the spring. The fact is that nothing could be further from the truth.
Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
As of right now we can pencil Brian Roberts in as the starting second baseman. Obviously he still remains a major question mark given his health issues of the past few years. However we all know what a healthy Roberts can do for this team. The same is true of Nolan Reimold, who will probably platoon in left field and at DH. Again, whether or not Reimold’s health over the long haul of an entire season can be trusted is another story. But out of context that’s a decent bat that the Orioles will get back. Obviously Nick Markakis will be back in right field; the O’s had been without him since September 8th of last year. Without going into too much detail, they’ll also have Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, et al returning in the rotation (along with Jim Johnson and company in the pen).
Of course the Orioles will also have the likes of Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, and Manny Machado returning as well. The fact is that we’re nowhere near the start of the season and I do feel that the Birds will make at least one move before spring training, however I think that Machado will be a key guy to watch this year. His story is a rare one in that often times teams will bring up a top prospect towards the end of a losing season so as to give him some experience at the big league level. The Orioles were a contender last year, and Machado came up and immediately got to participate in a pennant race. And if I do say so myself, I think he did so at a veteran level. How will that experience help him this season?
The O’s have a good team as it stands now. However most people’s questions stem from wondering how they’ll stack up against the rest of the division. Toronto obviously has emerged as an early favorite based on their off season moves. And I think that some folks (fans and national media alike) just assume that at some point things will just go south “because it’s the Orioles.” Perhaps, but the reason I don’t think that’s possible is also the biggest returning Bird: Buck Showalter.