Monday, March 26, 2012

30 Teams in 30 Days: Baltimore Orioles

2011 Record: 69-93

Key Additions: Matt Lindstrom (P), Jason Hammel (P), Luis Ayala (P), Armando Galarraga (P), Wilson Betemit (3B), Taylor Teagarden (C), Endy Chavez (OF), Jai Miller (OF), Ronny Paulino (C), Pat Neshak (P), Tsuyoshi Wada (P), Wei-Ying Chen (P), Matt Antonelli, (IF)

Subtractions: Jeremy Guthrie (P), Rick VandenHurk (P), Vladimir Guerrero (DH), Chris Jakubauskas (P), Jake Fox (C), Felix Pie (OF), Cesar Izturis (SS), Brandon Synder (1B), Jo-Jo Reyes (P), Luke Scott (OF), Jeremy Accardo (P), Clay Rapada (P)

2012 Outlook: The Baltimore Orioles are in an unfortunate situation and in it doesn’t appear that it will improve anytime soon. A great example of how bad things have become in Baltimore had to do with their recent GM search. Being stuck in the bottom of the AL East looking up at the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, and Jays above them, the Orioles ownership decided a shake-up was in order, but every time they offered someone the job, they turned it down, incuding the Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava. It was the job that no one wanted, and when only 30 of those kinds of jobs exist, for someone to say no, says a lot about the organization and it’s ownership. They eventually found their man in Dan Duquette, who immediately set out to make his mark.

It appears that he immediately identified pitching as the best area to improve as he added no less than 7 new arms in the offseason including two aggressive international signings in Wada and Chen. They also were aggressive in trying to obtain other young pitching prospects when they signed 17-year-old Kim Seong-min from South Korea. The problem with that, is that South Korea had a policy banning MLB scouts from signing players before they reach their final years of school, which Baltimore did, and as a result, the entire organization is banned from South Korea. Ouch.

There is no question that it’s a rough time for the Orioles. It’s been 15 years since their last post-season appearance, but it may be another 15 before they are back again. The brightest part of their roster is behind the plate in Matt Wieters. A former top prospect who has yo-yo’d expectations and performance, but appears to be realizing his potential. Beyond that, Baseball America ranked the Orioles farm system ahead of only 5 teams, good for the 25th best spot. So if the Orioles are going to contend anytime this generation, it’s going to need a real overhaul from the bottom up. Much like the Blue Jays have, they will need to invest in scouting and grow the organization from the minors up. However, one of the Duquette’s first moves as GM was to dissolve the pro scouting department and reassign them all to amatuer scouting. It’s not the best way to go about things, but at least they are starting to scout the amateurs more.

The Final Count: 68-94, Fifth in AL East

2012 will be another year where the Orioles will toil in the basement of the AL East, as the postseason seems further out of reach than ever before. The staff here at Blue Jays Plus predict a record of 68-94, but it could be worse if injuries take their toll as they have in the past. The Orioles have interesting pieces to work with in their roster, but they may have missed some of their best opportunities to improve over the past few years already. It’s been a comedy of errors in the handling of the Orioles over the past few years, but there is a reason they are nicknamed the OriLOLes.

You can follow Brandon on Twitter @Bam_86

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