2012 Baltimore Orioles

Over at BaltimeSportsReport that have their lineup predictions for the 2012 Orioles along with some analysis. Here are the projected lineups:

Starters

Jake Arrieta
Jim Johnson
Tommy Hunter
Brian Matusz
Zach Britton
Bullpen
LRP: Steve Johnson
LRP: Chris Jakubauskas
MRP: Mark Worrell
MRP: Troy Patton
MRP: Juan Cruz
Set-Up: Kevin Gregg
Closer: Dan Klein

STARTING LINEUP
Brian Roberts, 2B
J.J. Hardy, SS
Adam Jones, CF
Mark Reynolds, 3B
Nick Markakis, RF
Matt Wieters, C
Chris Davis, 1B
Josh Bell, DH
Nolan Reimold, LF

Bench
Brandon Snyder, 1B
Blake Davis, IF
Matt Angle, OF
Caleb Joseph, C

What does everyone think? As always their offense is going to live and die by Brian Robert’s health. If he can stay healthy and play well, they are probably a top 5 and definitely a top 10 offense. This team really only has a shot at contending if their young starters can stay healthy. If you think Roberts can stay healthy and the pitchers can turn it around, maybe the Orioles an content for the division. You can probably get pretty good odds betting them at this online sportsbook.

Back Home

The Orioles wrapped up a 7-game road trip today and will be back in the comfort of Camden for the next 6. The trip was a split success as the Birds took 3 of 4 from the White Sox in Chicago, but dropped 2 of 3 against the Royals in Kansas City. Jake Arrieta picked up two wins on the trip and Chris Tillman split his two starts. Kevin Gregg looked to get his season headed in the right direction with two saves.

That bats woke up on the trip and fans will hope to see the hit parade continue during the home stand. In 5 of the 7 games the O’s had 8 or more hits. Luke Scott had 3 homers, bringing his season total to 6. Nick Markakis raised his average from .204 to .225. Matt Wieters had 5 RBI in the five games he played in and Robert Andino had 7 hits in his 23 at-bats for a .304 average on the trip.

The Orioles are currently 14-16 and still .5 game up on the Red Sox, which still has to feel good, and only 3.5 games behind the division leading Yankees. Tampa Bay comes to town this weekend, and after the off day on Monday Seattle will be here for three Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. David Price pitched today for the Rays so they won’t face him, which is never a bad thing. At 2.5 games behind Tampa in the division, a series sweep would mean when Seattle comes to town the O’s would be in second place.

Bats Back on Track

The Orioles took the frustrations of an 8-game losing streak out on journeyman Carl Pavano last night and cruised to an 11-0 win. Brian Roberts was 2-3 with 3 RBI, Vlad was 2-5 with a 3-run HR, and Matt Wieters was 2-4 with 3 runs and 4 RBI. As a team they hit .361 and had 13 hits as they forced Pavano to an early exit after 4.2 innings.

A welcome sight for sure on two counts.¬†First we got to see what the lineup is capable of and second a much needed victory was added to the win column. It seems only fitting that they day after I was at the ballpark the streak ended. I’ve seen old ladies have better winning streaks when they play bingo than that team. I’ll take it either way though as I’m just glad we got one and hopefully can start a new streak.

What was lost in the beat down of the Twins pitchers was the fact that Jake Arrieta put together his best start of the season going 6 innings without allowing a run. He gave up only 4 hits and walked 3 in his 108 pitches. Jason Berken came in to throw two scoreless innings in relief, and Josh Rupe came into get the final three outs.

Back to Reality?

After starting the year 4-1 the Orioles have come down off of cloud 9 a bit by going 2-5 since the hot start and now sit at 6-6 and have been knocked off their perch atop the AL East. The reasons behind the losses have been varied, but for whatever reason the team can’t seem to buy a win right now.

From an offensive standpoint, they’ve scored 2.5 runs in the losses, a number that many thought would be much higher with a revamped offense losses or not. On the season Baltimore is batting .226, 11th in the league, with a .282 on-base percentage which has them 13th. With a lineup containing Roberts, Markakis,Lee, Vlad, and Jones you would expect that number to be much higher. While the OBP is low, in looking at the lineup there aren’t alot of high career numbers in the OBP category which leads one to believe this may be a problem all season. The 29 walks through last night’s game had the Orioles tied for last in the AL with the Twins. Is 12 games into the season enough to gather a large enough sample size? It just might be.

From a pitching standpoint it’s just as simple as they’ve given up more runs. In the 3-game sweep at the hand of the Yankees the O’s gave up 7 runs a game. Obviously that won’t get it done, but in looking at the Yankees lineup it’s hard to be that upset. The double header against the Rangers was a microcosm of the season so far for the pitching staff. The 5-0 win in the first game was a continuation of the hot start the staff got off to. The 13-1 loss in the second game ended up being a prelude to the week that was to be ahead

After 2 more games against the 9-4 Indians, 4 games in Minnesota against the 4-9 Twins await. This could be a good chance for the O’s to get some swagger back heading into a brutal stretch that stars Easter weekend with the Yankees, Red Sox, and White Sox all on the schedule the following week.

Jeremy Guthrie Visits MLB Fan Cave

Jeremy Guthrie made use of his off-time in New York by stopping by MLB’s Fan Cave and answering a few questions from O’s fans.

Next Stop: The Bronx

After a day off on Monday and a rain out on Tuesday, the Orioles were back in action last night in the new big ballpark in the Bronx. We found out early on what kind of night it was going to be as Chris Tillman struggled from the first pitch, giving up four straight singles to start the game and the score was 3-0 Yankees before you could blink. The second inning wasn’t much better for Tillman as he gave up three more runs and his night’s work came to an abrupt end.

A.J. Burnett didn’t give the Orioles bats much to hit all night. That’s not completely surprising as April is generally Burnett’s best month. For the first six innings he pitched as well as I had seen him pitch since he’s been with the Yankees. He didn’t appear to be fighting himself, he wasn’t shaking off Martin and his pitches had movement on them.

The lone runs for the O’s came in the seventh, when Matt Wieters and Brian Roberts both hit two-run homers.

Notes

Before the game, J.J. Hardy was officially placed on the DL and Brad Bergesen was recalled and promptly came into pitch 2 scoreless innings in relief.

Orioles in the Power Rankings

We far enough along in the season that web sites are beginning to post their Power Rankings. It’s interesting to see where the Orioles are placed in them:

ESPN has them at 7th in their latest list.

Yahoo! Sports currently has them at 11th.

CBS Sports has them 8th

No matter where you go, it’s good to see the O’s in the upper portion of the list, a far cry from where they’ve been the past few season. I know it’s early and baseball is a long season, but is it realistic to think that they can stay in the top 15 all year? We’ll have to see, but they’re certainly off to a good start.

Split Decision

It was an interesting day at Camden Yards yesterday as the Orioles experienced both ends of the spectrum. In the first game of the double header just about everything went right. In the nightcap, well barely anything went the O’s way.

The Orioles won the first game 7-1 to give the Rangers their first lost and knock them from the ranks of the last unbeaten team in the MLB. Zach Britton left the game after 7.2 innings to a standing ovation after allowing no runs and striking out two in a 103 pitch performance that silenced one of the most potent offenses in the AL. After the game Rangers manager Ron Washington was quite complimentary of Britton saying, “He kept the ball off the fat part of the bat, Give him credit. He did a good job.” Nick Markakis and Mark Reynolds took Colby Lewis deep for their first homers of the year and the Birds cruised to a 5-0 victory.

As well as the first game went, the second game was just as bad. Jake Arrieta was roughed up to the tune of 6 hits, 2 walks, and 8 earned runs in 3.1 innings. The game got off to a good start as Adam Jones got the scoring underway with a solo shot in the bottom half of the second, but then the Rangers bats that were silenced in game one woke up. Josh Rupe came in to pitch 2 scoreless innings before giving way to newly recalled Chris Jakubauska who came in and had about the same amount of success that Arrieta did. The result was a 13-1 loss and a split for the day.

To make things worse, shortstop J.J. Hardy left the game after the second inning of the second game with discomfort in his rib cage. Bad news looks likely as Orioles MLB.com writer Brittany Ghiroli is reporting that he could be out for an extended period of time, perhaps as long as 6 weeks.

The final game of the series is underway right now with no score as Texas bats in the top of the second. A bounce back win will do alot for confidence heading into the off day tomorrow and the team heading to the Bronx for three with the Yankees.

No 162-0

Okay, so now we can extinguish the 162-0 talk and fire up the 161-1 talk. Just kidding on that last part. Something had to give. Justin Verlander had never lost to the Orioles and the Orioles were 4-0. The result, a 7-3 Tigers victory. As much as I would have loved to see an O’s victory, the loss might have come at a good time. There’s a difference between optimism and unrealistic. Anytime I’m seeing ESPN talking about whether or not Baltimore has a legitimate shot at winning the AL East it’s time to put the brakes on. Just a side note, the last Orioles team to start the season 5-0 was the 1970 team that won the World Series. Yeah those comparisons were sure to come out next.

There were some positives to come out of the game though. Derrek Lee hit his first home run, Vlad drove in his first run, and we realized the pitching staff was human and would give up more than one run in a game. To be fair, Verlander has won 17, 18 (twice), and 19 games in the past five seasons so in no way did they lose to an inferior pitcher.

There were a few signs that it wasn’t going to be the Orioles’ night. Their three best hitters so far this season (Roberts, Markakis, and Wieters) went a combined 0-10. In the first four games they committed one error. They committed two in the second inning last night, which led to two Tigers runs. Then there’s the obvious, they gave up more than one run.

All things considered, the O’s are still in great shape. Boston’s 0-6 (that sounds almost good enough to repeat…numerous times) and so is Toronto so there’s plenty of cushion there. And we have games against the Yankees and Red Sox this month so there’s the opportunity to do damage head-to-head, which will go along way. Let’s hold off on the the predictions for a few more weeks. We’ll have a much better idea of what we have then.

Circa 1997

Season #20 at Camden Yards is under way

The last time the Orioles made the post season was 1997. With a 5-1 victory over the Tigers today the Orioles have started the season 4-0 for the first time since, you guessed it, 1997. Are they going to make the playoffs this year? I’m not saying that, but the start has been good, and I’m fully ready to ride with it as long as it lasts. Mother Nature is even cooperating with them. After a weekend of rain and chilly weather we had our warmest day of the year today with highs in the low 80’s for an absolutely perfect home opener.

The big question heading into the season was whether or not the starters would be able to produce. Including today’s game, Orioles starters have gone 26 innings and given up only 2 earned runs for an ERA of 0.69. Raise your hand if you predicted that through the first four starts. I’ll admit that Guthrie pitched probably the best game I’ve seen from him in an O’s uniform on Friday, Tillman pitched out of his mind Saturday, and Britton’s major league debut was, well better than I thought it would be. Arrieta followed them up today with a start that was just as good. Is it realistic to expect this kind of production for 158 more games, no. I’m not greedy, it doesn’t have to be 1 run given up per day, I’ll settle for 2.

The bats, outside of Roberts, Markakis, and Wieters, have yet to come around so imagine when they do. Markakis is hitting .429, Wieters isn’t far behind at .385, and Roberts is hitting .294 with 2 homers and an AL leading 8 RBI’s. Lee, Guerrero, Jones, and Reynolds have gotten off to slow starts, but with the other three carrying the load and the dominant pitching they haven’t been needed, yet.

Excitement surrounding the Orioles is higher than it’s been since, well probably 1997. I even saw SportsCenter pose the question whether or not Baltimore can win the AL East. I think it may be a bit premature to begin that kind of talk, but the buzz around the team right now is great to see. The Orioles are being talked about outside of Maryland for the first time in forever and it’s not because of losing. Here in town the pictures of packed bars downtown for today’s game, a filled to the brim stadium, and pre-game festivities rivaled that of a Ravens game, who have dominated the sports scene here in recent years.

A quick look at April’s schedule shows 6 games against the Yankees, 3 against Boston, and 3 against the defending AL Champion Rangers. Those 12 games will probably go along well in telling us what kind of season we’re in for from the Orioles. The pitching will get a good test from possibly the top 3 lineups in the AL. A slug fest or two can probably be expected in a few of those games, so the lineup will probably need to plate a bit more than the 3, 4, and 5 runs they have scores so far. Quiz passed. Test coming up.