Opening Day Preview

Well spring training is finally over and the regular season starts on Tuesday in Tampa Bay against the Rays. I think this is the most talented 25 man roster the Orioles have headed into the season with in at least 10 years. I’ll go through the roster player by player, including their stats from the spring training games.

Starting Rotation

Kevin Millwood0-2, 12.96 ERA, 8.1 IP, 21 H, 5 BB, 8 K – Millwood got rocked early in the Spring but came along as the season got closer, mostly pitching in minor league games that don’t count towards his stats. Hes the ace to start the season. Should be interesting to see if he can repeat his 2009 performance. It would be a big boost if he could, for him and the club as its his contract year.
Jeremy Guthrie 0-4, 7.40 ERA, 20.2 IP, 28 H, 13 BB, 16 K – It was another very disappointing spring for Guthrie as he looks to rebound from a bad 2009 campaign. He could be the starter most in danger of losing his spot in the rotation and he would be wise to get off to a good start to avoid that situation. If he can get anywhere close to 2007-2008 levels it would be of great help to the Orioles, especially for his trade value.
Brian Matusz 1-2, 2.59 ERA, 24.1 IP, 19 H, 3 BB, 21 K – Matusz was very impressive this spring and looks poised for a breakout year. He should be the heavy favorite for AL Rookie of the Year and I would be shocked if he doesn’t win it. I have a feeling he’ll be considered the staff ace by July 1st. It’ll be a joy to watch this kid in an Orioles uniform for at least the next 6 years and hopefully longer. He is the future.
Brad Bergesen 3-0, 5.59 ERA, 19.1 IP, 19 H, 9 BB, 10 K – Bergesen is coming back from a shin injury that sidelined him last summer and also a shoulder injury he dealt with at the beginning of the spring. Hes a gamer and gets batters out more with his savvy on the mound as opposed to pure stuff. He reminds me of a poor mans Greg Maddux and he pitches like hes 10 years older than he is. He should be a part of the rotation for years to come.
David Hernandez 1-1, 3.00 ERA, 15 IP, 17 H, 3 BB, 20 K – Hernandez “took” Chris Tillman’s spot in the rotation with a great spring. He added a two seam fastball to induce more ground balls, as homeruns were a big problem for him last season. If he can keep his stuff down and near the strike zone he could be a nice surprise for the Orioles rotation. I still feel like he’ll eventually wind up in the bullpen but I’ll be rooting for him.

Bullpen

Mike Gonzalez 1-0, 5.14 ERA, 7 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 6 K – Gonzalez dealt with some back soreness in the middle of the spring but seemed to be over it as it drew to a close. The Orioles signed him a big two year contract and gave up a draft pick to get him so they have high expectations for the new closer. If he stays healthy I think he’ll live up to them.
Jim Johnson 0-0, 7.00 ERA, 9 IP, 15 H, 2 BB, 10 K – There are reasons to be worried about Johnson coming into the 2010 season: he struggled in the second half of 2009 after inheriting the closers role, he wasn’t much of a prospect to begin with before surprising in 2008 with a move to the bullpen, and he struggled again this spring. Fortunately his strikeout rate this spring encourages me and I think he’ll be back to his early 2009 form. Less pressure in the set up role should work to his benefit.
Will Ohman 2-0, 1.04 ERA, 8.2 IP, 2 H, 4 BB, 10 K – I wasn’t a big fan of the Ohman signing but its looking like a steal if spring training is any indication. Recovered from arm ailments that disrupted his 2009 season, he only allowed two hits in all of the spring games. He should be fine as the left handed specialist and facing the occasional right handed hitter.
Cla Meredith 0-0, 0.84 ERA, 10.2 IP, 9 H, 0 BB, 5 K – Meredith is basically the right handed version of Will Ohman. He came into the spring with his spot on the roster in question but performed tremendously to earn his role. He’ll primarily be our right handed specialist and can pitch very frequently with his easy under arm delivery.
Mark Hendrickson 0-0, 4.66 ERA, 9.2 IP, 13 H, 4 BB, 6 K – Hendrickson was resigned late in the offseason after a successful stint in the bullpen in 2009. He didn’t do anything to change my opinion of him this spring. He won’t wow you in any way but when the seasons over you’ll realize he was his usual solid self.
Matt Albers – 1-0, 2.57 ERA, 14 IP, 14 H, 1 BB, 9 K – Albers came into came without losing any weight, which was what Dave Trembley instructed him to do over the offseason, but he had a good audition and got some help from a Kam Mickolio groin injury to make the team. I think he’ll have the shortest leash in the early goings and could be a candidate, not to take over the island from Jacob, but to be replaced in the bullpen by either a healthy Koji Uehara or Mickolio.
Jason Berken0-2, 5.40 ERA, 15 IP, 18 H, 4 BB, 9 K – Berken’s spring was up and down. He had a couple outings where he looked like the next Jim Johnson as a converted starter to the bullpen and others where he looked like the same pitcher that got shelled regularly in 2009. He’ll be another guy that will be easily replaced if he falters but as the long man won’t have much pressure and can spot start in an emergency.

Projected Line-Up

Brian Roberts 19 AB, .211/.318/.316, 2 doubles, 1 RBI – Roberts missed a huge chunk of spring training due to a herniated disk in his lower back. He says hes fine now after getting an epidural and resting but it is a big concern heading into the season. If he does manage to stay healthy you can expect a typical Brian Roberts season out of him.
Adam Jones 58 AB, .293/.333/.586, 1 triple, 5 HR, 12 RBI – Jones had a great spring, showing off even more power. You could say this about alot of the O’s youngsters but this could be the year he puts it all together. Hopefully he can have a full year as good as his first two months of 2009.
Nick Markakis 63 AB, .254/.254/.397, 3 doubles, 2 HR, 3 RBI – Markakis came into spring training looking stronger and in the best shape of his career. He started off like gangbusters but cooled considerably in the second half. This is a big year for him after signing that six year extension and slightly disappointing in 2009. The biggest concern is his zero walks. We need him to have a big year.
Miguel Tejada 62 AB, .274/.308/.435, 7 doubles, 1 HR, 8 RBI – We pretty much know what we’re going to get from Tejada offensively – a high average, not much patience, a bunch of doubles – but its his defense at third base that will be the big question mark surrounding him this season. If he can become league average there with the glove it will turn out to be a great signing.
Luke Scott 54 AB, .259/.364/.481, 3 doubles, 3 HR, 12 RBI – I’m still hoping the Orioles will trade the streaky hitting Scott but he can be a solid bat in the middle of the lineup. He’ll share time at DH with Nolan Reimold and should also see some time at first base. When hes on hes our best bet at a cleanup hitter, when hes off he doesn’t deserve to be in the lineup.
Matt Wieters 50 AB, .220/.316/.320, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 5 RBI – Wieters had a bad spring with the bat, but looked tremendous defensively behind the plate. I’m not concerned about the hitting stats at this point. I think he showed at the end of last year how much potential he has and I expect a big year from him. I’m predicting an all-star appearance for the young star.
Garrett Atkins 51 AB, .255/.339/.373, 3 doubles, 1 HR, 3 RBI – I wasn’t a fan of the Atkins signing and he didn’t do anything this spring to make me change my mind. Granted hes working with Terry Crowley on fixing his swing so I’ll give him some time in the regular season but I think we could see Brandon Snyder than some people might’ve thought.
Felix Pie 38 AB, .342/.419/.658, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB – The player with the most impressive spring was Pie, despite missing some time with shoulder and hamstring ailments. Hes exciting to watch and will be a superstar in this league if he can even come close to performing as well as he did this March. He was so impressive that he knocked Nolan Reimold out of the starting left field job and has him taking ground balls at first base. Hes the player I can’t wait to watch.
Cesar Izturis 53 AB, .170/.185/.189, 1 double, 4 RBI – Izturis was pitiful this spring with the bat. We don’t expect much from the hitting side of the game from him but he has to do better than that. He was an automatic out. Still, I expect the fine fielding shortstop to be the player he always is. Hes fine as a stopgap, although we should be out looking for a long term answer at the position.

Bench

Nolan Reimold 53 AB, .283/.316/.453, 3 doubles, 2 HR, 6 RBI – Reimold came into camp on the heels of foot surgery to his achilles. He was moved along slowly as the spring progressed and didn’t record his first hit until a couple weeks into the exhibition season. He eventually got it going and looks like hes on track to play a significant role on the 2010 Orioles. He’ll get plenty of at bats at DH and left field.
Ty Wiggington 52 AB, .269/.328/.519, 4 doubles, 3 HR, 11 RBI – Wiggington did come into spring training with less weight and in better shape, unlike Matt Albers. It showed in his performance as he had a fine pre-season. He’ll get at bats at the corner infield spots, DH, and as a pinch hitter. He should definitely improve over his 2009 performance and could be a trade candidate in the mid-season.
Julio Lugo 33 AB, .242/.286/.394, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 3 RBI – Those are Lugo’s spring stats with the Cardinals before the O’s traded for him. He was 0-3 in his only game with us. He’ll be the utility player and get at bats all over the diamond, mostly at second base and shortstop. Hes got some pop for a middle infielder and could see some pinch hitting opportunities.
Craig Tatum 26 AB, .192/.323/.269, 2 doubles, 3 RBI – Maybe the biggest surprise of the spring was Tatum beating out Chad Moeller for the back up catchers job. The Orioles love his arm behind the plate and felt like that was enough of a difference to make the call. He can’t hit a lick so hopefully his defense is as good as advertised or he could be gone as quick as he got here.

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