REALITY: Baltimore has a crowded outfield, and even more waiting in the wings.
PERCEPTION: Adam Jones, Hyun Soo Kim and Mark Trumbo were obviously going to make the roster, but after that it was a battle. Joey Rickard, Seth Smith and Craig Gentry won that battle. Trey Mancini also did his part to make the roster. He and Trumbo will share time at DH, and in the field. Plus Anthony Santander is on the 10-day disabled list.
But then you also have Pedro Alvarez in Norfolk whose bat could earn him a spot at any time. Plus, Michael Bourn and Henry Urrutia are on the roster in AAA. And Mike Yastrzemski is thought highly of in the Orioles Front Office.
It is a classic Dan Duquette roster alignment…put as many players as possible on your roster in hopes that a couple have a breakout year. I think it will work well for the Orioles again this year. As long as everyone stays with the club, they are bound to contribute.
REALITY: The Orioles have a refurbished bullpen.
PERCEPTION: Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day, Donnie Hart, and Tyler Wilson return in the O’s bullpen. But Oliver Drake and Vidal Nuno will slide into spots previously held by a number of players rotating in and out last year. The hope is that with another year under their belts that Givens, Hart, and Wilson will be reliable, while Drake and Nuno will shore up spots that had too much inconsistency last year.
In Norfolk, you still have a lot of players that could be on the Shuttle, including Jayson Aquino, Richard Bleier, Parker Bridwell, Jason Garcia, Joe Gunkel, Chris Lee, Logan Verrett, Mike Wright, and Gabriel Ynoa. Most of those players are very young with not much Major League experience, but knowing Duquette and Buck Showalter, at least a few of them will be thrown into the fire.
REALITY: The Orioles starting pitchers will play a huge role in whether the team makes the playoffs or not.
PERCEPTION: We know this team can smash the ball, and will probably shut down games once it gets to the 7th inning, but what about the first six innings?
Tillman is the most important player in this discussion. He was, and continues to be, the Ace of this staff. If he misses the first month of the season, the O’s should be okay. But if he misses more than that, the team will really need the rest of the guys to do a better job than they did last year. Gausman and Bundy both have the potential to be top of the line starters, but they need to be more consistent. They haven’t been able to put together a month worth of great starts without a couple of bad outings in there. This year needs to be the year they do it more frequently.
Who the heck knows what we will get from Jimenez and Miley? They both have shown flashes of the ability to be good #3 and #4 starters, but that is rare.
If the Orioles want to be a real contender, and move deep into the playoffs, they will need more than five mediocre innings from their starters.
I really thought Baltimore should have picked up Doug Fister to help their staff, but Buck and DD didn’t. When Tillman went down and nothing was said about the Orioles interest in Fister, then they must know something that I don’t. Because I still think they should have at least given him a look in Spring Training.
But what do I know? Maybe it comes down to money. He made $7 million in 2016. Maybe the O’s think they have enough with Jimenez, Miley, and those in Norfolk to not spend that much. We shall see.
REALITY: Today is Opening Day for the O’s.
PERCEPTION: Today is one of the best days of the entire year. Spring has sprung and the boys of summer return. Everyone has a fresh start and has a chance to make the playoffs and play for the World Series.
There is nothing like walking into Oriole Park at Camden Yards with all the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day, the smell of Boog’s Barbecue, and seeing the stadium packed to the brim in Orange and Black. Kids cut school. Parents skip work. Everyone is excited for the start of baseball.
I have my rituals too. Like wearing orange, even if I am not at the stadium, or watching a couple of YouTube videos.
Let’s start with the Orioles theme of “Orioles Magic”:
Or the 1989 Anthem “Why Not”:
This one came out a few years ago from a local band… the players may have changed, but the chorus is still fantastic… “How Bout Dem O’s”:
And there is nothing better to get you pumped for Orioles baseball like Delmon Young!
So let’s turn off any negativity and let’s get behind this team and fight along with them, pushing them to the playoffs.
Let’s Go O’s!