My first baseball blog of 2013.
And it’s February 13.
Then again, there’s not really been any legitimate reason to write about the Orioles since January 1. First, the football team kept us all in constant contact with Purple Fever, which made writing and opining about anything BUT the Ravens a waste of time. And, obviously, the Orioles haven’t done anything worth commenting on…unless you count the signing of a broken-down Jair Jurrjens as a move deserving of evaluation. I didn’t.
But, with pitchers and catchers reporting on Tuesday and the rest of the players showing up by Friday, it’s clearly time to start discussing our orange-feathered-friends with an eye towards the 2013 campaign.
As our very own Luke Jones assessed RIGHT HERE on Tuesday at WNST.net, it’s been a listless off-season for the Birds. They commenced the hot stove period with question marks and issues worth considering at first base, second base, left field and starting pitching.
The team convenes in Sarasota with none of those problems either completely addressed or improved upon, truth be told. Rather than go out and get a real first baseman, they simply promoted a formerly-failed glove with a decent bat in Chris Davis. Not knowing whether or not Brian Roberts will ever return to form, the club elected to add a half-player in Alexi Casilla rather than create a sea change by sending Roberts on his way and giving the job to an everyday major-leaguer. Left field was rescued in large part by Nate McLouth in 2012, but anyone willing to bet that he will duplicate his form of a year ago is just hoping for the sake of hope. Oh, right, the team still believes Nolan Reimold can stay healthy and be a threat at the plate and share the left field position with McLouth. The team likely believes in the Tooth Fairy, too.
In fairness, if the Orioles can get the same yield from guys like Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, the 2013 starting rotation might not be all that bad. Would it have been good to see the Orioles make a play for Zack Greinke or Dan Haren or, like Toronto, make a trade to bring in the likes of Josh Johnson and/or Mark Buerhle? Sure. But those players all cost money.
While the Birds clearly didn’t do anything in the off-season to improve their team, it’s accurate to note that the Blue Jays wound up being the only A.L. East club to appear as if winning was going to be important to them in ’13. Boston’s going to stink again, the Yankees appear to be hard-pressed to be an 85-win team and Tampa Bay traded away some of their good young arms to Kansas City for high-level prospect types. Sadly, had the Orioles actually added a handful of quality players over the last four months, they might legitimately be the favorite in the division.
My guess on 2013? Pretty simple. As The Killers showed with their first album, it’s awfully hard to catch lightning in a bottle two times in a row. I’m going to assume the luck that guided the Orioles through 2012 ran its course a year ago and that same good fortunate bestowed upon the Birds by the baseball gods will instead go to the Royals or Mariners or Brewers or (insert team here) in the upcoming season.
2012 was a fluke season for the Orioles.
I said before the first game a year ago they’d go 79-83 and everyone in town thought I was nuts. Obviously, I had no idea how lucky things would turn out for them.
I think they’re an 85-win team in ’13, but that won’t be nearly enough to get them into post-season play. After 14 years of horrible baseball, I suppose we should be happy with back-to-back seasons of plus .500 play, but the Birds turned 95 wins into 85 wins in the off-season by dumpster diving for guys that no other team in the big leagues cared to take. That philosophy worked a year ago but I can’t see lightning striking twice in the same place twelve months apart.
I’m hoping for the best, because I enjoyed the hell out of 2012, but you can’t count on luck to take you places. At some point, you have to try to win. And you do that by adding quality, not gambling on also-rans who swallowed the pill-of-good-fortune and put together a few good months of baseball.
I’d love to be wrong about this group.
I hope like hell they get as lucky this year as they did last season.
But I’m not counting on it.