I know I’m going to go out on a limb with this one but I don’t think the Orioles will be very good this year. Final prediction – 63-99, 1 loss short of 100. In all honesty I don’t think this team is THAT bad. Put them in the AL West or in any of the National League divisions and I think they are a 75 win team. Just too many question marks on the pitching staff and a lack of legitimate run producers to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays.
– Nick Markakis makes his 1st All-Star Team and hits .310 with 30 homers.
– Adam Jones struggles mightily in the 1st half, rebounds a bit in the 2nd half, but hits .240 for the year.
– Millar, Mora, and Huff all perform well enough to get themselves traded later in the summer.
– Ramon Hernandez gets hurt in April, opening the door for this year’s surprise performer – Guillermo Quiroz – .280, 15 HR while keeping the spot warm for Matt Wieters in 2009.
– Luis Hernandez loses the starting SS spot by the end of April – and Brandon Fahey gives it back by the end of May. That position will be a disaster.
– Brian Roberts finally gets dealt in July – to Cleveland.
– Adam Loewen and Daniel Cabrera battle for the league lead in walks.
– Jeremy Guthrie leads the team in wins – with 10 – and is the only starter with an ERA under 5.00.
– The bullpen proves to be the strength of the team, though there will be few leads for them to protect.
In all honesty, my eyes will be really focused down south and out to the west in Bowie and Frederick. That is where the real future of this team lies. If the farm system is as improved as most say it is, it will be shown in the results of those 2 teams.
Also not to be forgotten in regards to the future of this team, they will be picking 4th in this year’s draft (hoping for Georgia HS SS Tim Beckham) and more than likely will be in the Top 3 next year. With their ability and willingness to pay the big bonuses while the teams picking ahead of them (Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Tampa Bay) may not be, the Orioles should be able to add a pair of blue-chippers to their stable in the next 2 years.
Combine that with what they’ve brought in trades this offseason, what they already had, and what they might bring in with other trades down the line and I think we may be talking about the team with the deepest minor league system come 2010.
For that reason I’ll take a 63-99 record this year if it means a 99-63 record in 4 or 5 years.