Monday, November 09, 2009
Blogging the Offseason is a 30 team series in which I ask a blogging representative from each MLB team a series of ten questions about their desires and thoughts surrounding the offseason. Check out all of them here.
Today's team is the Baltimore Orioles and our guest is Jeff from the Baltimore Sports Blog Right Off Russell.
1. Nick Markakis has been your best young player for the past few years but has seemingly flatlined in power and average in the past three seasons. Do you think Markakis is just a solid .300 20 HR hitter or do you think his power explodes next year?
In a lot of ways this was Markakis' most disappointing year. Each year he has seemed to improve, but in '09 he lacked consistency offensively. His power numbers were down, strikeouts up, walks down and he was just very streaky. Whether or not Markakis is every going to be more than he has shown the last three years is something I have discussed often. I have not come to a definitively conclusion, but my gut right now tells me that he will improve but never ascend to super star status. I do think that if the Orioles can surround Markakis with one or two more middle of the lineup bats, his numbers would be helped out greatly.
2. I'm sure as an Orioles fan you are looking forward to the day when Jeremy Guthrie is no longer your opening day starter / "ace" will one of the Youngsters step up and take de-seat Guthrie?
I do expect Guthrie to bounce back somewhat in 2010. Will he be the pitcher that he was in '07 and '08. Probably not, but he can be much better than he was in '09. He is not a top of the rotation guy, but I also do not think this is the year when a younger arm steps forward. The main candidates, besides Guthrie, to start opening day are Brian Matusz and Brad Bergersen> I don't think either are ready, not would the O's feel the need to rush them. Provided that Guthrie is healthy and the O's do not acquire a free agent starter, I believe Guthrie will get the call on to start the season.
3. Speaking of the youngsters, whom do you think has the most potential between Matusz, Bergesen, Tillman, and Hernandez?
Matusz is definitely the guy with the best combination of stuff and pitch making ability. I salivate watching Cliff Lee and Cole Hammels (last year anyway), because that is the type of pitcher I think Matusz can become. After that Bergesen has great command and know how, but not great stuff. Tillman needs to work on his location with his fastball, which does not explode the way I had hoped. Hernandez may be destined for a late inning relief role. He will get more looks as a starter, but I am not sure he is cut out for it.
4. There are a few closers on the market this offseason, do you think the Orioles try to sure up the bullpen or try to get it done within? Any chance Chris Ray can be good again?
Ray can be good again, but I am not sure he is a closer. If I were the Orioles I would not sign a closer. I would like to audition Ray, Jim Johnson, Kam Mickolio and maybe even Koji Uehara in the role and see if one of them can claim the job. I am a believer that you develop your arms from within and I think the Orioles can have the patience to do that since '10 is not a year they expect to be in playoff contention.
5. Who are a few logical free agents that you think the Orioles will target in the offseason?
I would love to see the Oriole go after Matt Holliday. He is still young enough that he can have an impact when the rest of the club is ready to contend and he is the middle of the order bat the team needs. Plus I just like him as a player and I have a friend who's brother played ball with him in high school, so there is obviously a tremendous bond there. Other than him, maybe Adrian Beltre would be worth a look and Chone Figgins since the O's are unsettled at the corner infield spots.
6. You taken Peter Angelos hostage and can now act like the Yankees and purchase three top tier free agents, whom do you grab?
I will stick with Holliday and add in John Lackey and Rich Harden. Lackey because he can be an ace and is a big game pitcher who gives you a lot of innings. Harden because I think he would be worth the upside risk despite his injury history.
7. Matt Wieters had a red hot September, what do you think are realistic expectations in 2010 for the uber prospect?
I would guess Wieters is capable of a .290-.300 average with 20+ hr's and around 80 rbi's. Some of those 3"s will depend on how much the Orioles try to get his bat in the lineup as a DH on the days he is not catching. I think Wieters can be a more patient hitter, make pitchers work more and draws more walks. Along with that he should be able to reduce his K's. Wieters also improved a great deal in his defensive ability and his game calling. That is often overlooked, but his impact in those areas should improve as well.
8. Which prospect who has yet to put on the Orioles uniform are most looking forward to seeing?
One guy I have see in the minors is Jake Arrieta. I like his stuff and make-up as a starter. I think he will get a look in Baltimore at some point in 2010. Also, I am itching to see Josh Bell (acquired in the George Sherrill trade with LA) play. I have spoken with Josh on one occasion and he is a really likeable guy who I am pulling for. Plus I want to see his power on display.
9. I'm giving you the option to cut players without any salary repercussions, which Orioles do you part way with?
The Orioles have cleared all of the bad contracts heading into this off-season. Melvin Mora is gone and so are Jamie Walker and Danys Baez. Other than that the O's do not have a lot of money tied up in bad long term deals. This is a big off-season for the club. They have money to spend, but can they attract the right free agents without overpaying too much?
10. Final Question, you've got a crystal ball, the Baltimore Orioles will make the playofs in ________.
2012? I hope. Next year the Orioles need to step up to around the .500 mark and not fade so badly at the end of the year. 2011 could be a year where they are involved in a pennant race, but it is too much to expect them to make up so much ground on Boston, New York and Tampa in just 2 years. So I think 2012 is the most realistic shot. A lot of things need to go right with player development and talent acquisition, but that is the year the Orioles need to build for.