The Baltimore Orioles are getting ready kick off their Spring Training as pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota tomorrow, and the full squad arrives next Tuesday.
With that in mind let’s gear up for the arrival of the boys of summer by taking a look at a few different topics facing the Orioles this season along with their mounting odds against them per MLB Futures odds, in my new column called “Perception is Reality.” It’s a bit like a Fact and Opinion column where I’ll give you a statement of reality, and then give you my perception of the situation.
In this first article, we’ll look at the Orioles hitters. Friday, we’ll look at the options on the mound.
Reality: The Baltimore Orioles return nearly everyone defensively.
Perception: The Orioles defense was a record-setting one last season. Matt Wieters returns behind the plate for what could be his final season in an Orioles uniform. Chris Davis will continue at first base. J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado return as one of the best left-side infields in all of baseball. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis continue to fill their slots in center and right field.
The Orioles have plenty of options in left field with Nolan Reimold, Henry Urrutia, Steve Pierce and Francisco Peguero, but I think newcomer David Lough wins the job.
The question marks are second base and designated hitter.
Reality: Right now, Ryan Flaherty appears the favorite to win the 2nd baseman job.
Perception: Flaherty looks like a good bet right now, but there is a chance the Orioles go out and try to sign Emilio Bonifacio, who officially became a free agent today. They also have Jonathan Schoop, Jemile Weeks and Alexi Casilla but I think they all lose out to Flaherty.
What I don’t understand is the fascination with Bonifacio. Besides having more stolen bases, he is not an upgrade over Flaherty. Flaherty is younger and costs less. In Bonifacio’s 94 games with Toronto last year, he batted .218 with an OBP of .258. He had three home runs and 20 RBIs. In Flaherty’s 85 games in Baltimore, he has a .224 AVG with a .293 OBP. He also had 10 home runs and 27 RBIs. If you compare their 2012 seasons, Flaherty again matches up even in every category except stolen bases.
I would much rather the Orioles let Flaherty play every day. He proved last year that when given a shot to play every day, he produced from the bottom of the lineup. Save the money spent on Bonifacio and let’s get a player we really need.
Reality: The Orioles appear to be ready to go with a “DH By Committee” again this season.
Perception: Lots of options here… Urrutia, Reimold, Delmon Young, Xavier Paul, and Quitin Berry. But do any of those names really get you excited? Yea, me either.
I would love to see the Orioles spend some money and sign Kendrys Morales. Nelson Cruz is still available, but Morales would be better. The Orioles have plenty of options as 4th outfielders, but not as many quality back-ups at first base. Morales could give Davis a day off or at least let him DH every now and then. Plus, Morales is younger and has comparable stats.
Last year, Morales had a higher average and OBP. He had 23 home runs and 80 RBIs, compared to 27 home runs and 76 RBIs for Cruz.
Both, however, will cost the Orioles a draft pick and right now they don’t seem like they want to give that pick up. Still, the Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo Encina tweeted Wednesday afternoon that the Orioles remain interested in Morales and continue to be in contact with his reps.