Baltimore Orioles: Boston on the power play


I suspect that the last thing fans of the Baltimore Orioles wanted to see this week was an archrival team making a power play move. The BoSox signed free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, formerly of the San Francisco Giants. Along with their recent Hanley Ramirez signing, Boston has probably just snagged the two biggest bats on the infield market – and we’re not even into the meat of the “hot stove” season yet. So…are they now the team to beat once again in the AL East?

The answer is that they might be – it’s the day before Thanksgiving, people. I’ve had a couple of people tweet and email me asking what I thought of these moves, of course in regard to the Orioles. Needless to say, Sandoval, Ramirez, and even the potential of Boston re-claiming Jon Lester, don’t make things any easier to say the least. But these are only the first free agent pieces to fall this year – big pieces, that is.

Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

If we haven’t learned anything by watching Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette over the past couple of years, it’s that Orioles fans should trust them. I had one person flat out ask me why the Orioles weren’t in on these two players in general. Look no further than Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy for the answer to that. Comparatively, Sandoval is a better power hitter than Machado. But I’m not sure that anyone in the league can touch Manny’s defense at the hot corner. And Ramirez is a much less-talented SS than Sandoval is a third baseman.

Ultimately Boston has improved their team this week. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Orioles have gotten worse. One might argue that the Birds were one of the most complete teams in baseball last year – before injuries and suspensions took their toll in the post season. However I will say that with these two players now in the AL East, the emphasis on power has suddenly been turned up a bit. Sandoval and David Ortiz in the Boston lineup will probably make anyone shiver.

Ultimately we can’t say who the team to beat is at this point. Every team is still a work in progress. They will be until pitchers and catchers report in February (which incidentally is two weeks after the Super Bowl). Going into the off season let’s not forget that several sources felt that the Orioles would end up re-signing Nelson Cruz. However at the end of the day the Orioles are going to need similar power in their lineup in order to compete in 2015. Whether that’s Cruz, Chris Davis, Adam Jones, etc, remains to be seen.

Also keep in mind that the O’s won 96 games in 2014, and finished leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the division. If the O’s can finish with a win total in or near the 90’s once again, I see no reason why they wouldn’t finish in first place once again. For sure it’s frustrating to see a long-hated team in Baltimore improve themselves at the drop of a dime in that fashion. However when you have so far up to go in order to be back on top, it would stand to reason that in signing those players they’ve only begun to scratch the surface.