CBS Sports Baltimore: Opinion: Scott Garceau: Arms Race: Preview of the 2014 Baltimore Orioles

CBS Sports Baltimore: Opinion: Scott Garceau: Arms Race

Derik Schneider on Google+

The New Democrat on Facebook

The New Democrat on Twitter

For the last month or so up until last week, I wasn’t feeling very good about the Orioles’ 2014 prospects and believed they weren’t as good as they were last year, an 85-77 fourth place AL East finish missing the AL Playoffs by five games. There is a  reason for this, because going into the 2014 off-season, it was very clear what the Orioles needed to be better than they were in 2013, which was another frontline starting pitcher if not two of them to go along with Chris Tillman (the ace of the staff), a full-time productive designated hitter, and another outfielder.

Up until recently the Orioles were signing mostly minor league free agents, guys who are career minor leaguers, who are at best potential major league players, or guys who were once major leaguers but are now at the downpoint of their careers, looking for another shot at getting their careers back on track but certainly not players you are expecting to make a major impact for the Orioles in 2014. This meant it was clear who was running the show in Baltimore, Mr. Tightwad Peter Angelos, the majority owner of the franchise, someone who only wants to spend enough money to make the Orioles look credible (his record in the past at least) but not commit the resources to make the Orioles a real contender.

What we now know after trading for outfielder David Lough who, at least going into the 2014 season, will be the Orioles’ regular leadoff hitter, someone with a solid bat who runs well, has decent power, and is a good outfielder, is what the Orioles were looking for. They were always going after at least one more frontline starting pitcher and a regular everyday DH, but because of Mr. Angelos they were waiting for the market to calm down, when everyone else has made their offers, leaving possible free agents to wait to bring their prices down. That is when they would swoop in and get the players they were after, which is how they signed pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and DH/OF Nelson Cruz.

A month ago the the 2014 Orioles looked like they had a better chance of finishing last in the AL East than winning it or even grabbing one of the AL wildcards. But with the signings of Jimenez to go along with what else they have in the starting rotation with Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez, still one of the best bullpens in baseball even without a proven closer, then the lineup goes 1-9 in power, run production, and hitting and the best defense in baseball.

They don’t need a great pitching staff or even great starting pitching to make the AL Playoffs in 2014. What they need their starting pitchers to do is stay healthy and be solid and give their offense and defense a chance to win the game. They should keep walks and extra base hits down and eat up innings but not have to play shutout baseball when your offense is giving you 5-6 runs a game with a great defense as well. If their starting pitching gives them that consistently, turning the gavel over to the bullpen in the sixth or seventh inning with a lead or a chance to win and stays healthy, look for the Orioles to at least be back in the AL Playoffs in 2014.  (See quote below.)

CBS Sports Baltimore: Scott Garceau: Arms Race
“The Orioles will be contenders for the American League East title and the league’s two Wild Cards, there I said it!
Buck’s Birds can match any lineup in baseball 1 through 9 when it comes to thunder in the lumber and they’re coming off the best fielding percentage season in baseball history. That’s all good but in the end this team will seal it’s fate with starting pitching.
Adding Ubaldo Jimenez was a nice move, adding Suk Min Yoon, who knows? When it comes to starting pitching, at least on paper, the Orioles rank below the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays in the division. If that margin is narrow the bats and gloves and Buck Showalter’s leadership can make up for it. If the pitching gap is significant the Orioles will be watching the playoffs like the rest of us. Lets take a glance at how the rotation might look.
Chris Tillman- Coming off break out (16-7) year. Still only 25 he’s a very good #2 starter who could become the ace the Orioles haven’t had since Mike Mussina headed for Broadway.
Ubaldo Jimenez- He adds experience and durability. The former 19 game winner has averaged over 200 innings his last 6 seasons. Despite his inconsistency his career ERA is a solid 3.92.
Wei-Yin Chen- Likely the only lefty in the rotation. Durability issues, but the Orioles hope he can return to 2012 form when he won 12 games.
Miguel Gonzalez- Not spectacular but gritty and he knows how to pitch. He won 11 games last year and his 3.58 ERA the past 2 seasons is very respectable in the AL East.
Bud Norris- He won 10 games last season but the former Astros pitcher allowed too many base runners with a chunky 1.49 WHIP. His stuff is better than his numbers, he’ll need to be more consistent to keep his spot in the rotation.
It’s nearly impossible that a rotation stays intact for a 162 game season. Injuries and poor performance usually turn a rotation into at least an 8 or 9 man job. The Orioles are slowly adding arms and building pitching depth in the organization.
Other possibilities include, Kevin Gausman talented but raw, he’ll probably start the year in the minor leagues but could be on the mound at Camden Yards later this summer. Does Suk-Min Yoon win a starters job, go to the pen or polish his game in Triple A? Lefties Zach Britton (out of options), and T.J. McFarland could get a shot. Steve Johnson and Josh Stinson have experience and have made starts with the Orioles.
Prize prospect Dylan Bundy could be in the rotation in 2015 and may contribute in the second half this year. In the minor league pipe-line (“buy the bats, grow the arms”) prospects Eduardo Rodriguez, Hunter Harvey, Mike Wright and Tim Berry have major league dreams. Can the Orioles make it three straight winning seasons for the first time in 20 years? Can they make the playoffs for the 2nd time in 3 years? The bats and gloves are willing if the arms cooperate.”

About Derik Schneider

Blogger on everything that interests me and that I'm knowledgeable about.
This entry was posted in Orioles Now and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.