Now that the first week in the books for the Orioles, the fans can get their first opinions on the ball club. After the club had the lowest average anttendace last year since 1988, Baltimore boasted the largest attendance ever in the club's history. With the Orioles fans significantly outnumbering the Yankee fans, the Orioles were able to give the fans something to cheer about with a 10-5 victory. Since then, Baltimore has gone 4-2 taking both series from the Yankees and the defending AL champs, Tampa Bay Rays.
Coming into the 09 season the bats were thought to be the biggest strenth on the club and so far that would prove to be correct. The Orioles have scored over 8 runs a game in their first six games of the year. The Os top three guys in the line-up (Roberts, Jones, and Markakis) have batted 383 with 8 doubles and 11 rbis. If the Orioles can keep up this kind of production the fans at the Yard will have a lot of cheering to do when the Birds knock the ball around the yard. Now we can't forget about the Orioles MVP last year, Aubrey Huff. Though it is expected that Aubrey won't put up the numbers he did last year he will still be the Orioles big RBI guy. Aubrey hasn't been stroking the ball like the top 3 in the line-up, but I have no worries that he will come on strong in weeks to come. The Orioles most clutch hitter Melvin Mora seems to be picking up his game were he left off last year. He is batting 313 so far and with his grand slam off of the Rays Jeff Nieman in the first inning on saturday has tied Nick Markakis for the club lead with 7 rbis. The addition of Greg Zaun, Ty Wiggington, and Cesar Izturiz has not damaged the line-up one bit. Greg Zaun brought in just to fill the hole while Matt Wieters gets some time has not been a slouch with the bat. He already has three doubles and Cesar Izturis brought in for his defensive abilities treated the Os fans to a homer Opening Day and is solidly batting 294 at the end of the line-up. The only Oriole that seens to be struggling at he plate is Felix Pie. Pie batting 143 has not been hitting the ball solidly and alltogether has looked uncomfortable at the plate.
Dave Tremley said at the beggining of the season that the Orioles will go as far as the starting pitching takes them. That sounds about correct so far. The Orioles have seen four quality outings (2 from Guthrie, 1 from Uehara, and 1 from Hendrickson) and two so-so outings (1 from Simon and 1 from Eaton.) No starters have been roughed up significantly. The two losses were clearly the worse starts from the starting pitchers, but were nothing the Orioles bats couldn't over come with both Alfredo Simon and Adam Eaton giving four earned. The starting rotation going into the season was thought to be the Orioles biggest problem, but so far has surpassed all expectaions. The only problem I see with the staff is the lack of inning they are throwing. Guthrie is the only starter to throw 6 innings and the fartherst anyone else has gone was 5.1 inning by Mark Hendrickson. Amount of inning being thrown seems to be the biggest problem for the rotation, but I am pleased with the outings for the starters. On the brighter side the picthing has only given up 10 walks in just over 31 inning which is not to shabby. If the starters can throw strikes and eat up innings then I cant complain. On another note, Koji Uehara looked impressive in his first outing and appears to be working hard and staying in shape by making it to the yard early and running before any other players get out to start warming up, but I question his durability because he was a reliever the past couple of year in Japan. Hopefully more good things come from the starting roatation.
The bullpen was suppose to be a strong point for the Os this season, but has failed to live up that expectation. The bullpen has given up 21 earned runs in just over 21 innings. That my friends is awful. Brian Bass has taken the brunt of the bullpen's failures when he gave up 7 runs on 4 home runs in the 11-3 loss to the Rays yesterday. Chris Ray has brought a lot of excitement in his return after missing the entire 08 season, but has not preformed well. Danys Baez has looked the best striking out 5 and giving up no runs in 3.2 innings. I feel that players in the bullpen are being misused and that is not the fault of the players, but rather the ciaching staff. Regardless of whether or not the players are being put in the wrong situations the players need to preform at the top of their game and thats not what they are doing.
The Orioles defense has overall preformed very well, but I see some problems in the outfield in the first week so far. Felix Pie, in my opinion, is a terrible outfielder and has a lot to work on. He looks uncomfortable, has trouble tracking balls, and a weak arm. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis have shown that they can be great fielders, but I saw some balls that the could have caught or make a better play on. I am not worried about either Nick or Adam because the both have good speed and great arms and they will turn it on. The biggest problem defensively is the terrible job pitchers do of holding runners and Grag Zaun throwing them out. Orioles have given up a lot of stolen bases and will eventually cause a few losses that we could have won. The defense will be a strong point for the Os this season, but had first week jitters.
My first move as manager is to send down Felix Pie and bring up Nolan Reimold. I have not seen anything so far that would reward him playtime. Nolan Reimold is a ready outfielder in Norfolk. I think the Os have to give him a chance now. Next, I would move Chris Ray to closer role and Danys Baez to set up man. George Sherrill has a 92mph fastball, no deceptive move and no out-pitch. Sherrill is a situational guy at best. Chris Ray has not preformed well so far this season but has a better fastball and more deceptive move. Danys Baez in 07 had a terrible year and did not pitch in 08, but before that he was a phenomenal pitcher and he is now going back to the old Baez
Orioles start a series in Texas tonight as 8. Koji Uehara starts for the Os. Lets go Os.