Sunday, March 06, 2011

My Long Overdue Orioles Outlook - Position Players Edition

Well, it is 54 degrees, overcast and raining. So let's talk about baseball and see if we can get the doldrums drummed away for a moment.

The phrase "new look" is overused in the world of sports talk. But in the case of the 2011 Orioles, it is appropriate. A full half of the starting lineup is going to be different from last year*. Look at last year vs. this year in the field (pitchers will be covered in a separate post):

  • 1B Garrett "I'm not good enough to hit in Colorado" Atkins
  • 2B Brian "Ow, my back. Maybe hitting myself in the head w/a bat will help" Roberts
  • SS Cesar "How do I get on base again" Izturis
  • 3B Miguel "B-12" Tejada
  • LF Nolan "27 year old rookies ALWAYS pan out" Reimold
  • CF Adam "I'm more of a Q-Bert guy" Jones
  • RF Nick "What did I do to deserve this" Markakis
  • C Matt "Maybe I'm just A god" Wieters
  • DH Luke "Birth certificate or GTFO" Scott
  • LF Part Deux Felix "Is there an odder couple than me and Luke Scott" Pie
  • Fill in as needed Ty "Don't sell yourself short. You're a tremendous slouch" Wigginton

  • 1B Derrek "I played w/Methuselah" Lee
  • 2B Brian "I'm still here, suckas" Roberts
  • SS J.J. "I'm not the guy from Good Times" Hardy
  • 3B Mark "Feel the breeze" Reynolds
  • LF Luke "Wango Tango" Scott
  • CF Adam "I'm plenty deep, coach" Jones
  • RF Nick "For the love of God, please let me know what 70+ wins feels like" Markakis
  • C Matt "Dammit Buster Posey, knock it off already" Wieters
  • DH Vladimir " I changed Derrick Lee's diapers" Guerrero

All snarky names aside, this lineup is MUCH improved. Yes, Reynolds does strike out a lot, but he also hits for power, and he is only 27 so there is room for improvement (let's see if new hitting coach Jim Presley can find a way to shorten his swing a little bit while not totally killing his power stroke). Lee had a thumb injury last year, but all signs point to a productive year along the line of .285/.367/.498 w/28 HR and 90+ RBI (which would be about .250/.350/.497 w/27 HR and 90+ RBI more than Atkins). Hardy is (contrary to public opinion) not a defensive liability compared to Izturis, and he provides a LOT more pop (how does .263/.323/.423 w/20 HR & 70+ RBI sound? A lot better than .256/.296/.323 w/2 HR and 40 RBI, that's for sure). Another misnomer is how the defense in LF is going to play out . Reimold was the opening day starter, but he didn't last too long. Pie is a decent fielder, but he is a CF by trade and has problems reading the ball off the bat when in left (let's all try to forget that we had to go out and re-sign Corey Patterson, and hopefully we will not need to call on him again because I have the feeling that signing him a 3rd time is akin to looking in your mirror and saying "Candyman. Candyman. Candyman). Scott is a natural LF (as much as he can be natural at any position in the field), and while he might not have Pie's speed he has better vision and makes better decisions in tracking to the ball. He'll be fine, and putting Guerrero in the DH slot allows for more pop from LF and DH.

If Markakis can return to form and Jones & Wieters can improve (all reasonable expectations), this lineup has the potential to actually make opposing pitchers work for a living. It isn't going to be the '27 Yankees, but it won't be the 1899 Cleveland Spiders either (or if you're into the "something from the last century" deal, the '62 Mets).

*all statements of this nature are under the assumption/hope of relatively healthy seasons by the starters

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