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Baltimore Orioles Preview
by Matt Fargo - 02/18/2008
2007 Record 70 Wins 92 Losses - 4th American League East
2007 Money -$1,896 moneyline +$475 Runline 82-73 Over/Under
2007 was yet another disappointment for Baltimore as the Orioles finished with a losing season for a franchise record 10th straight season. Only Tampa Bay had a worse pitching staff as the Orioles finished with a 5.19 ERA and they were the only two teams with an ERA above 5.00. And like its A.L. East counterpart, the bullpen was mostly to blame with a whopping 5.75 ERA. Baltimore was second to last in the league in profits but notice the + on the runline results. The Orioles lost a league high 31 one-run games.
The offense was adequate last season as the Orioles finished 12th in baseball in hitting at .272 but there was a power outage. For the third straight season, the Orioles home run total dropped and now that Miguel Tejada is out of town, they could dip even more. He is coming off his worst season since 1999 as far as home runs and RBIâ€™s and this was a great time to deal him considering all of the steroid issues now surrounding him. Baltimore has a big hole to fill nonetheless and they need power from other spots also.
The main offensive threat now is Melvin Mora but he has been on a three-year slide in average, home runs, RBI and on-base percentage. The Orioles hope for an upturn in 2008, but he will be 36 so his best days are probably done. Nick Markakis had a great sophomore campaign and he should continue to get better while the addition of Luke Scott should add pop. Brian Roberts is going to be traded as well so the remainder of the lineup will likely consist of unproven youngsters and veterans who are past their prime.
2008 Starting Pitching
The trade of Erik Bedard officially tabbed this season as a rebuilding one for the Orioles. With Baltimoreâ€™s best starter now on the west coast, the rotation is officially in shambles. There is potential but every team comes into spring training with potential and there simply is no number one guy on this roster. The likely opening day starter is Jeremy Guthrie, who had a solid rookie season with a 3.70 ERA and 1.21 WHIP but he only went 7-5 and did not win a game after July 27th.
The number two spot will likely be handed to Daniel Cabrera who has so much talent and at 26 years old, there is still a possible breakout. However, he went 9-18 with a 5.55 ERA last season and led the league in walks after finishing second in that category in 2006. Adam Loewen is another one with great potential but he missed all but six starts last year with a balky elbow, which is not a good sign. After that it really is anyoneâ€™s guess who will lock down the final two spots, not exactly the best sign for an already suspect staff.
The bullpen was horrific last season and there is no reason to think there will be a repeat of that this season. Closer Chris Ray and setup man Danys Baez both had Tommy John surgery and will be out for most of this season. Every job in the pen is open although the closer job looks to go to George Sherrill, who came over in the Bedard deal. He posted a 2.36 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 73 appearances from the bullpen in Seattle. Also in the hunt to close games is Greg Aquino but he will likely end up in middle relief.
Chad Bradford and Jamie Walker are the only two players that are back from last seasonâ€™s bullpen so you can see what Baltimore is dealing with. Matt Albers, Hayden Penn, Troy Patton, Garrett Olson and Brian Burres are all fighting for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation and the losers could end up in the pen with Burres being the likely candidate for long reliever. With so many unknowns, the bullpen could surprise and be the strength but that is a stretch and we likely are going to see another tough year.
2008 Overall Outlook
Can the Orioles pull off a similar astounding feat that the Marlins did two years ago? It isnâ€™t likely considering the division they play in and that they donâ€™t have the talent to produce right away. Baltimore will add to its record of consecutive losing seasons and this one could be one of the worst ever. While the season is destined for failure, they are doing the right thing and building for the future. However, they will have some big underdog prices and the value will be there as long as we strike at the right times.