By Will Carroll
February 29, 2012
There are few things that went right for Baltimore in 2011. However, they did rank in the upper half of injury stats for the first time in several years. Saddled by aging star after aging star, Richie Bancells and his staff didn't have much hope of keeping the DL days from racking up. There are still some aging players -- not so much stars -- but there are fewer of those around. The Orioles have some real challenges with depth, so Bancells' staff is going to have to have even more focus on keeping the pitchers healthy and available. Losing Jeremy Guthrie hurts since he was so consistent and always available, but Jason Hammel should be much the same pitcher. The O's did bring in two pitchers from the Japanese leagues to absorb innings and keep them competitive, but neither pitcher is included in these ratings because of the problem of translating the data over and a lack of injury history. The best guess for those two is a solid yellow, but neither is going to be more than fantasy filler regardless. This isn't going to be a good team, especially in this division, but increased health among the talent they have could help Buck Showalter build the team back.

Health Keys: Keeping young pitchers healthy so as not to expose their youngsters. Finding a way to keep JJ Hardy on the field, which no other team has been able to do either.

(HEAD TRAINER: Richie Bancells (R); FIVE YEAR RANK: 24; 2011 RANK: 11)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
C Matt Wieters
Wieters may not be everything the hype made him out to be, but he's solid behind the plate and durable. That's worth a lot, especially since there's still some upside in his bat.

1B Mark Reynolds
Moving Reynolds across the diamond keeps him just below the yellow threshold. How much he plays at 3B remains to be seen.

CF Adam Jones
He's still no Willie Mays and he's still no star, but he's a solid enough CF who showed his shoulder problems are well behind him.

DH Chris Davis
Davis is a bit more risky if he's playing 1B, but not much. Then again, he hasn't hit enough to hold on to either slot long enough to be very risky

SP Jason Hammel
Hammel's unlikely to be the real No. 1 -- the Orioles invested a lot in Tsuyoshi Wada and Wei-Yin Chen -- but the team does need him to absorb innings the way that Jeremy Guthrie did.

SP Alfredo Simon
Simon doesn't have big legal problems hanging over his head again, but he'll be challenged to hold on to his spot long enough to really be risky. He'd be yellow if he projected to go over 160 innings.

Also Green:
3B Wilson Betemit
LF Nolan Reimold
RF Nick Markakis
SP Tommy Hunter
Hunter is a tough one to project and the low yellow doesn't really tell us much. Hunter may end up in the pen or at the top of this rotation. His strength and stamina have never really been tested, but at 25, he has the body and arm that could absorb innings. His stuff and demeanor might be better suited for the pen on a team with rotation depth however.

SP Brian Matusz
I do radio every week in Baltimore (WNST), so I talk a lot of Orioles. Matusz was their biggest disappointment last season by far, but he could be the key to their '12 campaign. Matusz bounced off a big innings increase and was a red light last year because of it. This year, look to see if his velocity comes back. If it was simple fatigue instead of something systemic (and there's no indication of any major injury), Matusz showed signs of the talent and stuff still being there. I'm tipping my hand, but Matusz will be a late round flyer for me in drafts.

SP Zach Britton
Britton was one of few decent pitchers the O's had last year, so keeping his innings down was tougher for them than with others. He did have a big increase, as almost any first year pitcher will and he did wear down due to that. Assuming he makes the rotation out of spring training, which is a real question, he'll need to stay below 180 to not be in the red for '13.

RP Kevin Gregg
Gregg looks to be in the late-inning mix despite getting in Buck Showalter's doghouse a few times. Jim Johnson could move to the rotation despite its depth, which would leave Gregg in his spot, if not the closer role. He's racked up some mileage on his arm, but he's not as risky as many other yellows.

CL Matt Lindstrom
Lindstrom didn't do too well a couple years back when the Astros handed him the closer role. Maybe a little more experience will help. Lindstrom is a high effort guy who often comes down with shoulder soreness and fluctuations in velocity.
2B Brian Roberts
Roberts is the very definition of red light. The O's have gotten little in return for big dollars with Roberts over the last three years. There are flashes of skill in the brief returns, but the Orioles really aren't planning on having Roberts back in '12. Robert Andino is the likely fill-in here, but he'd be exposed by too much playing time. Roberts' concussion is another reminder that MLB has an issue with this terrible problem that needs to be addressed. (Requiring use of the S100 helmet is a nice start.)

SS JJ Hardy
No one thought that Hardy didn't have the talent to do what he did last season. He's just seldom been healthy enough to do it. Even last year, he missed time, which continues to make us wonder what he might have done with another 100 PAs. But you simply can't expect even the time he gave the O's last year, making him a massive overdraft that needs a top-flight backup if you take that risk.

You May Like