How different are the 2015 Baltimore Orioles?


With Colby Rasmus now being on the verge of signing in Houston, the Baltimore Orioles seemingly find themselves once again looking for replacements. I think that most fans accepted that the Orioles would look different year-over-year at the conclusion of last year. However I’m not sure anyone (writers and fans alike) thought they would look as different as they’re shaping up to look. However the question is how different are we talking? Without getting into any sort of batting order or anything else, here’s what I’m anticipating the O’s putting on the field in 2015:

Matt Wieters – C

Chris Davis – 1B

Jonathan Schoop -2B

J.J. Hardy – SS

Manny Machado – 3B

Left Fielder

Adam Jones – CF

Right Fielder

Designated Hitter

Courtesy of Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously the player(s) that are gone are kind of a big deal in that Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz are missing. But with the exception of the corner outfielders and a DH, the lineup remains intact. Furthermore, the Orioles didn’t have Wieters for most of last season and they didn’t have Machado at the end. Presumably having those players back in the lineup will make a positive impact.

You can probably pencil in Steve Pearce as a platoon outfielder, as well as perhaps Henry Urrutia – who you’ll remember spent some time with the Birds in 2012. There are other options as well, both in house and outside of the organization. However I would submit that the power drop off in losing Cruz might be a bit more muted than people may think IF Chris Davis gets hot like he did in 2013, combined with Wieters’ power bat.

Notice that in that lineup I didn’t address the pitching staff. That’s due in part to the fact that the starting pitching will probably be the same or similar year-over-year. It’ll be interesting to see who ends up in the rotation and bullpen among Ubaldo Jimenez, Kevin Gausman, and possibly even Dylan Bundy. The Orioles are set up fairly nicely when it comes to the starting rotation; keep in mind that the absence of Nelson Cruz’s bat isn’t going to negatively affect Chris Tillman‘s fastball or off speed delivery.

Obviously the Orioles also lost Andrew Miller in the off season, which has a lot of people concerned. But I would submit that the Orioles’ bullpen was one of their greatest strength’s prior to Miller being acquired last summer. He solidified things significantly, however the Birds were shutting people down well before Miller arrived. And bullpens are unpredictable year-over-year; look at how former Oriole Jim Johnson was lights out for the Birds, but then fell off the map.

Is the road tougher for the 2015 O’s due to the departures? Yes, very much so. But I’m not sure that they lost enough, nor do I feel that anyone else gained enough, for them not to be in contention in 2015. Whether they win the division or make the post season is anybody’s guess. But they’ll be in contention to say the least. As we stand here in January, that’s all I can predict for you!