A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE ORIOLES
The warm fuzzies from their second half last season have dissipated. This club has not taken a step forward by any stretch.... The right side of the infield is in a state of flux. Brian Roberts is hurt yet again. Back problems don't go away. Derrek Lee didn't have an at bat this spring until March 19, and the guys they played at first were brutal.... Mark Reynolds is an all-or-nothing guy but mostly nothing this spring. He still concentrates on power rather than hitting.... There is some promise in the outfield. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are primed to have very good years. Buck Showalter has Jones's focus right where it should be. Jones is a very athletic guy and a very good competitor, as is Markakis, who's a solid RBI guy.... I think they wanted to sell some tickets by scoring some runs, and Vladimir Guerrero is a run-producing guy. He cannot play the outfield. The problem is that Luke Scott, who was the DH last year, can't play anywhere in the field either.... Their catcher had better step up to what his reputation is pretty soon. This spring Matt Wieters has been just so-so offensively again.... They've got the makings of a pretty good staff. Jake Arrieta is a young kid who's coming fast. By June, Zach Britton will be in the rotation because he's better than some of their starters right now. Last year the phenom in camp was Brian Matusz; this year it's Britton.... In the bullpen Michael Gonzalez and Kevin Gregg are going to be relied on heavily early. Koji Uehara has a ninth-inning mentality but doesn't really have a closer's stuff.... Showalter is the right guy to manage this team. It's the soft spot on everybody's schedule, but he won't put up with that.
April 3, 2011
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER BUCK SHOWALTER
2ND SEASON WITH ORIOLES
RBIs with runners in scoring position and two outs for Baltimore last season, the third fewest in baseball. New DH Vladimir Guerrero should help: His 33 RBIs with two outs and runners in scoring position for the Rangers ranked fourth in the AL in 2010.
Though signing Vladimir Guerrero late in the off-season seemed to be effective bargain hunting by Andy MacPhail, it's not clear that Guerrero, 36, has a place on the Orioles' roster. He has no business playing the outfield—his defensive numbers in limited time in right last year were terrible, and his work in Game 1 of the World Series was so bad that Texas manager Ron Washington benched him for Game 2—so Guerrero can help a team only as a DH. That's why Guerrero was available cheaply one year ago, when the Rangers signed him, and why he sat on the market this year until February. The Orioles, though, have lefthanded slugger Luke Scott, who is four years younger and has been a better hitter (.865 OPS) than Guerrero (.823) over the past two seasons. Scott shouldn't be allowed to wear a fielder's glove either but he should start over Guerrero at DH against righthanders. The best Orioles lineup features Felix Pie, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis across the outfield, with Scott at DH. If Guerrero is much more than a platoon DH—that is, if Buck Showalter bases playing time on a career stat line rather than who his best players are today—it will cost the O's.