O’s spring training: The 25 who will make it (#13)

March 08, 2010 | Drew Forrester

He’s a man without a position, but he’s coming north for sure, because you can never have enough guys who play multiple positions and fill in decently for a week or two in the event someone pulls a hamstring or sprains their ankle.

And that’s how Felix Pie will start the 2010 season…waiting (hoping) for someone to get injured or go through some extended slump where skipper Dave Trembley decides to give Pie a week’s worth of work just to shake things up.

Pie started the 2009 season as Andy MacPhail’s pet project and went through a season worth of ups and downs that included hitting for the cycle, forgetting to throw the ball into the infield while he was in centerfield during a game in Florida and generally drawing the wrath of Trembley due to his occasional lack of fundamentals.

That said, Pie definitely made progress as the 2009 rolled on and proved a capable 4th outfielder, although there’s little doubt he’s much more adept at playing center than left.

With Nolan Reimold’s questionable status to start the ’10 campaign and Luke Scott’s only-average-nothing-more defensive abilities in left field, Pie could see plenty of playing time when the season starts in April.  It will be up to him to make the most of it.

Odds he’ll be on the roster when the season starts: 100%

Odds he’ll be on the roster when the season ends: 90%

Odds he’ll be an effective contributor in 2010:  60%

Odds his name will be mentioned at the trade deadline in late July: 25%

Summary: Pie remains one of the team’s most puzzling players.  While he has plenty of tools, he’s trying to fit in with a club that has a strong obligation to its right fielder and center fielder and hopes to make Reimold into an everyday-type left fielder who perhaps doubles as the team’s clean-up hitter someday down the road.  Pie has great speed, which makes him valuable in late game situations, and he can hit right handed pitching.  For most of 2009, though, he hit below .200 against left handers, but a late-season surge against southpaws brought his average up to .250 in that category.  So what does Pie have to do to break into the regular lineup?  Probably hope for Reimold to start the season at Triple-A Norfolk (due to his achilles recovery)…and then hit the cover off the ball for the first 20 games of the season…and make it nearly impossible for Trembley to sit him when Nolan’s ready to return to Baltimore.  Failing that, or some kind of major injury to one of the other outfielders, Pie will probably see roughly 300-350 plate appearances and that’s not going to be enough to make a decision on his long term viability in Baltimore.  The Orioles other secret hope MIGHT be that Pie has a good first half, hits for average, sees his power numbers go up, and then someone comes along at the deadline looking for a pitcher and “something else” (a left-handed bat) and the Birds can parlay Pie’s decent 2010 into decent trade value in late July.

Drew’s projections for Pie in 2010:

* .274 average

* 12 HR

* 44 RBI