MLB Season Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Is Manny Machado the next Brooks Robinson?

 

The Baltimore Orioles started off 2013 in solid fashion, but a less than stellar second-half did not allow the club to return to the postseason for a second consecutive year. A shocking down year from Matt Wieters was balanced out by an amazing season from Chris Davis – who smacked 53 HRs and 138 RBI. The O’s went 20-31 in one-run games,  so they’ll need to figure out how to win the close ones in 2014 if they want a shot at toppling the defending champion Red Sox in the AL East.

Off-season transactions:

1/14 – Signed OF Delmon Young

1/15 – Signed RHP Alfredo Aceves

2/19 – Signed RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

2/24 – Signed OF Nelson Cruz

3/4 – Signed LHP Johan Santana

(The Orioles did not re-sign Scott Feldman, Brian Roberts and Nate McLouth)

Always hurts to see a guy like Brian Roberts leave the team after a successful 13-year career in Baltimore, but it looks like the decision was made from the Orioles side to move on. Nelson Cruz could be a big coup for the team, getting him at a discount after he had to serve a 50-game suspension for steroids last season. Cruz hit .266/.327/.503 for Texas in 2013, and you can expect something close to that this year. Ubaldo Jimenez figures to jump to the top of the rotation right away, while Johan Santana was a low risk-high reward gamble that could pay off big time for the O’s.

2014 Lineup:

  • Matt Wieters, C
  • Chris Davis, 1B
  • Ryan Flaherty, 2B
  • Manny Machado, 3B
  • J.J. Hardy, SS
  • Nick Markakis, RF
  • Adam Jones, CF
  • Nick Reimold, LF
  • Nelson Cruz, DH

Rotation:

  1. Ubaldo Jimenez
  2. Miguel Gonzalez
  3. Chris Tillman
  4. Bud Norris
  5. Wei-Yin Chen

Closer: Tommy Hunter (?)

This team in another division could be a frontrunner, but not in the AL East. I would guess a .500 season for Showalter’s crew, but it all depends on what we get out of the Yankees and Jays this season.  I’m going to guess the O’s win 80 games in 2014.

The Week in TicketCity Search – Strait Is A Direction

TicketCity Week in Search

Week of
Oct. 8t
h
Previous
Week
Event
Searched
1 2 ACL Fest
2 1 Longhorns Football
3 4 Mississippi State Football
4 3 Justin Bieber
5 5 One Direction
6 - George Strait
7 6 W Virginia Mountaineers
8 - Baltimore Orioles
9 - Pink
10 - Houston Texans

It was not a close one this week, as ACL dominated the competition, winning by a very comfortable margin. The first set of performances are now on the books as I’m writing this, so the “last minute” surge was not unexpected. The temperatures this weekend will be positively pleasant (by our usual standards), but you may want to be ready for some precipitation. If you ask me, I’d rather be damp due to rain than sweltering in the heat.

The big TX-OU weekend dovetails with ACL this year, but the surge the Longhorns experienced wasn’t enough to knock the festival out of the top spot. We’ll have a team out at the Cotton Bowl for late ticket purchases, so there’s still time to make it in.

The (not really) eternal battle of the teen pop titans continues this week, with Bieber still in the lead. He has the slightly unfair advantage of actually being on tour at the moment while One Direction isn’t quite so active at the moment.

The bottom five provides a few changes of pace. George Strait is one of them. He’s been away for a while but is back with a new tour, and fans would be wise to catch it. Strait announced he’s retiring and The Cowboy Rides Away Tour will be his last. He’s providing fans with two years to get in to see his farewell, as it’s not scheduled to end until 2014.

While MLB can fly under the radar for a while during football season, the playoffs general make an impact on the countdown. The Orioles get the honors this week as they battle the Yankees to move onto the ALCS against Detroit. That contest will be decided today.

New Players Abound In 2011 MLB Season

With the shortest offseason in major sports, a lot can happen in around baseball during the winter, and this year was no different. There were a number of high quality free agents available for the taking, and as a result a lot of teams will have a new look come opening day. 

Few teams did more to improve their stock than the Boston Red Sox. In early December, the Sox landed the coveted first basemen Adrian Gonzalez in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Not only will this provide Boston with a big left-handed bat in the middle of its lineup, but also strengthens their defense. Several days later, Boston signed free agent left fielder Carl Crawford, a player that will be a spark at the top of the batting order throughout the season. Boston also bolstered its bullpen by signing Bobby Jenks as a setup man.

Cliff Lee, who brought the Texas Rangers to the World Series last season, was also up for grabs this offseason. After an intense bidding war, the Phillies beat out the Yankees and acquired the talented southpaw. Lee took less money to accept the Phillies offer, a team he took to the Fall Classic in 2009, and joins Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels as arguably the best rotation in the majors.

Another coveted pitcher, Zach Grienke, also changed hands. The subdued right hander had long been the lone bright spot for the Kansas City Royals over the years, but was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers during the offseason in an effort to keep up with a loaded NL Central.  

There are a number of new players in Tampa Bay as well. Just one season after winning the AL East for the second time in three years, the Rays have a virtually new team. Crawford is gone along with Matt Garza (Cubs), Carlos Pena (Cubs) and Jason Bartlett (Padres). To help fill the void, the Rays brought in some very familiar faces – Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon – hoping for some veteran production out of the two former Sox.

Staying in the East, the Baltimore Orioles have long been in the basement, but they took steps to compete with the Sox, Yankees, Rays and even Jays this offseason. The Orioles acquired a few big bats in shortstop J.J. Hardy, first baseman Derek Lee and slugger Mark Reynolds. Add that to a bolstered pitching staff, highlighted by Justin Duchscherer, and teams should watch out for Baltimore.