Orioles 2013: What Can We Really Know?


“That awkward moment when….”   So starts many a Facebook status. On the yearly baseball calendar, we are at that awkward moment when just about anything that can be said over the winter has been said, and everyone is on the edge of their icicle waiting for some spring training news to thaw. Apart

March 29, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles second baseman

Ryan Flaherty

(3) forces out New York Yankees center fielder

Dewayne Wise

(38) in the sixth inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

from a sheet of ice sliding off the roof in a grand crash announcing an unexpected trade development, we know the themes for the spring. Orioles writers everywhere have rolled and packed them into snO’smen replete with an orange nose and black cap. They are:

–          Will Brian Roberts be able to return to the lineup in good form, and what if …

–          Is Chris Davis going to be able to handle first base?

–          Will the bullpen pick up where they left off? … with McFarland?

–          How will the left field and DH situation shake out with Nolan Reimold and Nate McLouth?

–          Who will bat leadoff?

–          Who will be the 5th starter after the 4 we think we know?

Catch those last four words – “we think we know?”  But what do we really know? What are we able to say that we know? Now don’t get lost here, but, I think the only thing we can say we know, is that we don’t even know what we don’t know!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the speculation and anticipation game as much as anybody. That is why I take time from a too busy life to write about this game of baseball and our beloved Orioles.

But here’s the point I’m making: there are so many unforeseen variables to occur before we wrap up this baseball trip around the sun, that we cannot begin to definitively state much. But there are some better statements we can make this year than at any point in anyone’s recent memory:

–          There are, apart from debilitating injuries, more firm pieces of the daily lineup …

–          There are, apart from debilitating injuries, more firm pieces of the pitching lineup …

But again, to return to the point of what can we know? … Who would have thought at this point last year that the Orioles would burn through so many players to get to a 93-win season? Who would have even talked about Miguel Gonzalez playing a critical role in the rotation? Our left field back-up conversations involved Jai Miller and Endy Chavez, not Nate McLouth. Tsuyoshi Wada was a big hopeful, while most of us were clamoring for Jake Arrieta to carry the ball to the bump on opening day.

Two points to wrap up …

1.  All of this uncertainty is what makes the game interesting. There are so many moving pieces. Baseball in this modern era is more than just about the dozen or so top players who take the field regularly week in and week out over the course of a season, unlike when I was a kid in the 60s and 70s. Now it is about organizational depth and strength. The margins are thinner in every way, being narrowed by technology and the depth of talent everywhere and from all over the world.

2.  Dan Duquette may be more of a genius that we realize. If I’ve not said it before, I’ll say it here that I repent in dust and ashes for any doubts and reservations about the man and his philosophy. Organizational depth saved the Birds in 2012; why should this year be different? Sure, it seems like there are more arms and outfield options than can possibly be managed and sorted out. But here’s where the main idea today shows up: unforeseen circumstances and contingencies have a way of doing the sorting for you … and better to have too much talent around the joint than not enough.

Here is what I know: it is going to be interesting and fun to watch develop. I think it is going to be a great ride around the sun.

Twitter: @osayorioles     Email: r.buchman@myactv.net