Archive for February, 2011

The system IS broken

I hate to write yet another argumentative post, because with the start of spring training and the hope I have for the O’s this year, I’m feeling pretty upbeat about baseball in general.  But even despite the faith I have in the new and improved O’s and their Jedi Master Buck Showalter, there is one doubt, one nagging question that can erode any O’s fan’s optimism.  That doubt is whether, even despite good scouting, player development and management, any AL East team without the financial resources of the Yankees or Red Sox can be competitive in the long term.

By and large, the Orioles haven’t been a very good organization in really any respect in recent memory.  So clearly, they are no basis on which to evaluate the competitive balance of the division.  But there is a team in this division that has consistently demonstrated their organizational competence and reaped the benefits, including division titles in ’08 and ’10 and an unsuccessful WS trip in that ’08 run.  I am speaking of the Tampa Bay Rays.

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What can we make of Chris Tillman?

There’s something different in the Sarasota air this spring.  Can you feel it?

I think it’s called stability.

Due to the volume and quality of the acquisitions made during the offseason, spring training for the Orioles in 2011 figures to differ from previous years in that there won’t be many meaningful position battles that will take place during camp.  With Derek Lee, Mark Reynolds, JJ Hardy, Vladimir Guerrero, and others stepping in to fill obvious holes, one of the only real unanswered questions centers around who will fill out the Orioles starting rotation.

Barring injury or catastrophe, we can basically pencil in (1) Jeremy Guthrie, (2) Brian Matusz, and (3) Justin Duchscherer.  After that?  Given that both experienced some success last season, you would have to figure that Jake Arrieta and Brad Bergesen would be the prohibitive favorites to round out the starting five.  If so, then Chris Tillman and Zach Britton would return to AAA to continue their development.

What’s interesting to me, however, is that I’m not so sure many fans would handicap the AAA depth chart thusly: Tillman and Britton.  I think there is a general sense that Britton might have surpassed Tillman and is next in line to be called up.

Should it comes to pass, it would mark a notable and at least somewhat surprising shift for the centerpiece of the Erik Bedard trade, from likely front-of-the-rotation starter, to “organizational depth” and taking a number with Troy Patton.

How did we get here?

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5 Reasons the Orioles Should Sign Albert Pujols

I’m getting a little ahead of myself, I know.  Albert Pujols is still under contract with the Cardinals for the remainder of this season, and though he says his negotiation deadline has passed, it’s hard to believe he’ll be finishing his career anywhere other than St. Louis.

Furthermore, he’s going to command a massive (some might say crippling) contract, maybe the largest in the history of baseball.  Based on the Orioles spartan payroll history, and recent comments made by current Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, there is no reason at all to think that the Orioles could sign him, or that they would even try.

But, permit me to daydream for a moment, won’t you?  Here are 5 excellent reasons that the Orioles should sign Pujols, if he ever becomes a free agent.

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Ernie Tyler, A True Oriole

As all of the major Baltimore news outlets reported today, Ernie Tyler, the Orioles’ longtime umpires attendant, passed away at the age of 86.

While I personally never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Tyler, his record speaks for itself.  Tyler worked 3,819 consecutive home games at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards beginning on opening day in 1960 and continuing until July 27, 2007, when he voluntarily ended his streak to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Cal Ripken Jr.

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