This is an article from the March 26, 2012 issue
A rival scout sizes up the Orioles
This is a potential 100-loss team. You can pencil them in for fifth place. They're not going to run into an easy game in this division.... Everyone had high hopes for their young pitchers, but all of them took a big step backward last year. Brian Matusz has been up and down, but he's definitely not the same guy he was two years ago. He and Zach Britton need major changes to their deliveries—they're messes right now. The stuff is there for both, but mechanically they need an overhaul.... Wei-Yin Chen could be a big surprise for them—he's one of the few Asian pitchers with a fastball--breaking ball combination. He knows how to pitch.... Trading away a 200-inning guy like Jeremy Guthrie for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom was the worst deal of the off-season. Hammel is going to get torched in the AL. Lindstrom is a hard thrower—that's it.... Nick Johnson has thoroughly outplayed Chris Davis at first base this spring. Johnson's a good fielder and solid at the plate, but as usual, the question is whether he can stay healthy.... Matt Wieters is an All-Star who's just getting better, but beyond that there are a lot of holes. Whether Adam Jones can make the jump to being a great player is becoming more and more a question. Mark Reynolds is either going to hit a home run or strike out. Brian Roberts is going to sit on the golf cart and not play.... There's not much talent in the system. Manny Machado has a big future at shortstop, but he's still years away. They're going to have to deal guys like Jones and Nick Markakis to get some more talent.
With 2011 Statistics
MANAGER BUCK SHOWALTER
3rd season with Orioles
|LH||WEI-YIN CHEN (R)*||8||11||2.68||1.03|
NEW ACQUISITION (R) ROOKIE *JAPANESE LEAGUE STATS
Runs allowed per game by the Orioles, the only team to pass the 5.00 threshold in 2011. Baltimore starters made just 60 quality starts, fewest in the majors. The team has finished last or second-to-last in the category in three of the past four seasons.
For the Orioles, 2012 begins with considerably less optimism than did '11, which ended with 90 losses for the sixth straight year. Baltimore has to return to focus on a team built around Matt Wieters, shortstop prospect Manny Machado and righthander Dylan Bundy (its 2011 first round pick) that can contend in '15 or '16. To that end, it may be time to move some current contributors, particularly Adam Jones. The centerfielder, 26, is a free agent after '13, and his durability, premium position and good counting stats will set him up for a big payday. But he may not be worth a long-term investment. Jones has not matured as a hitter—his 113/29 K/BB ratio in '11 barely budged from his 108/23 in '08, his first full season. He doesn't apply his speed; Jones has just 44 steals and a 69% success rate. And his defense has rated below average the last three seasons. Trading veterans is about leveraging the gap between perceived and actual value, and few players have a larger gap than Jones. He can bring back a building block more likely to contribute, at a good price, to that '15 contender.