Thursday, March 30, 2006

2006 Season Preview - AL East, Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles
2005 Record: 74-88; Position 4th

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - C Ramon Hernandez, INF / OF Kevin Millar, OF Jeff Conine, OF Corey Patterson, SP Kris Benson
Minus - INF Rafael Palmeiro, OF Sammy Sosa, RP Jorge Julio, RP BJ Ryan

It seems almost impossible to believe, but here, as late as June 25th, the 2005 version of the Orioles had just fallen out of 1st place. In my over / under response I even had the Orioles as a potential Wild Card team, which seemed mildly clever in April, May and June and just stupid come September. In the early part of the season the Orioles young starters pitched well, Brian Roberts turned his double power into home run and double power, and the team had Rafael Palmeiro moving toward his landmark 3,000th hit...

What went wrong - well the Palmeiro / Tejada thing certainly didn't help. Palmeiro pointed fingers at Congress, then less than 80 games later became the highest profile player to test positive, in murky circumstances. It has been well documented that Tejada produced the worst second half of his career following Palmeiro's statement that Tejada's vitamin injection might have been the source of his failed steroid test... and while that may have just been Palmeiro playing a desperate game of pin the blame, Tejada's lack of production was a big (but lets not get carried away, not the only) part of the second half fade. As an aside ... seriously... hands up in the audience those of you who drop their pants in the office and let your cubicle buddy pop a needle in you... anyone... anyone... in the back??

What else went wrong... the starting pitching caught up with itself... Ponson was a disaster... Sammy Sosa - yeh that signing worked out well... by August the Orioles had decided that Lee Mazzilli was a better bench coach than field manager and Sam Perlozzo was installed - though that should be a good thing right? And then, in the off-season Miguel Tejada requested a trade, then rescinded, then requested, then announced himself embarrassed and ready to play for the O's again.

What do the Orioles have to look forward to in 2006? That really is a tough question - the addition of Mazzone creates a true real time experiment that the baseball community is looking forward to with genuine interest. The Mazzone 'effect' has been calculated as 0.5 runs off the ERA of the 'average' pitcher under his control - now we find out if it was the pitchers or the pitching coach - if the results are repeated in Baltimore, surely more teams have to start applying his principles? The team's major off-season acquisitions were Ramon Hernandez and Kris Benson - both will help, but neither makes this team competitive, while the loss of Ryan will hurt, but again, it won't be a change that makes the team less competitive. The team also has the Kevin Millar experience to look forward to - you know - great character, declining hitting skills?

I think that 2006 may be the year that the Rays finally climb off the bottom of the AL East - it does need a combination of events to occur, but I really do think that the O's could be that bad in 2006. There doesn't seem to be a plan, a way forward for this team - grim viewing for the Birds.

2006 Projection: 70-92; Position - 4th
Orioles blog link - The Orioles Warehouse

1 threw a strike:

At 9:37 pm, Blogger Pete J said...

Two words - Peter Angelos.

Is he the worst owner in baseball or, for that matter, all of sports?


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