I was amused yesterday when I read in USA Today that the Baltimore Orioles are projected to finish last in the AL East. They have the O’s at a 72-90 mark, with New York finishing in first place at 93-69. Boston is a close second at 89-73.
I don’t have so much of an issue with the top of those projected standings, because both New York and Boston are stacked. The only wild cards with them are their managers, both of whom are rookies. And it’s of course in the dugout where the Orioles have the big advantage, as Showalter’s arguably the best manager in baseball. But time will tell.
However my point would be that the Orioles have no reason to be predicted to finish behind both Tampa and Toronto. Both teams have lost big time members in the off season – the likes of Bautista, Longoria, and others. So…how exactly are they better teams than the Orioles?
The Orioles of course are questioned about their pitching. That’s really what it boils down to across the board. However I suspect that the team-wide offensive tailspin in September rides on the minds of analysts as well. And my point there would be that whatever happened at that point happened to a hapless team that was dead tired. Granted they have to work on their stamina and on ensuring that they can keep it going for 162 games, however that wasn’t the real Orioles team.
Furthermore, NOBODY has been signing free agents. Some blame the players association for that, and some blame the owners. All I know is that pitchers and catchers will start reporting next week. If guys are going to start signing so as to get in full spring training workouts before the season, it’s going to have to be soon.
The point there of course is that there are a lot of chips left to fall. My personal opinion is that the O’s will sign at least one free agent pitcher, and most probably two. That would fill four rotation spots, leaving one up for grabs in camp. Does any of that mean that the O’s won’t finish in the basement? Not necessarily. However as things stand right now, I do believe that they’re a better team on paper than Toronto or Tampa.
In other news, former Oriole Ryan Flaherty signed a minor league deal with Philadelphia yesterday. The 31-year old utility infielder will get an invite to spring training, and will compete for a big league job. I hope that Orioles fans will join me in wishing Flaherty well. He wasn’t a superstar, nor was he an everyday starter. But when he was in the lineup he was fairly solid, and he ALWAYS played hard.