With the Orioles getting swept this past weekend, the icing on the crap cake being an 18-10 loss in front of 30,000 Red Sox fans, things look grim in birdland. But while this season hasn’t been great for Oriole fans, it has laid some important building blocks for the future. In my estimation the experience all of the young Orioles are getting this season has accelerated the rebuilding process by a season or two.
With pitchers such as Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, Jason Berken, and Brain Matusz all making their major league debuts this season, the Orioles should have a decent idea of who can be effective and who will be a turd.
If we hadn’t accelerated the youth movement in Baltimore we could have wasted ten to twelve starts in 2010 to find out Jason Berken probably isn’t a major league starter. But on the flipside we can go into next season comfortable with some lesser prospects like Hernandez and Bergesen being part of the stating rotation on Opening Day. In fact, as funny as it sounds right now, the Orioles could have a serious battle between six pitchers for the five spots in the rotation going into spring training. Tillman, Matusz, Bergesen, Hernandez, Arrieta, and Guthrie should all be in a battle to make the Orioles rotation; a battle that projects a lot of excitement on the mound in 2010.
In the bullpen, the trade of George Sherrill to the Dodgers is going to give Jim Johnson 58 games to prove he can be the Orioles closer in the foreseeable future. Johnson turned twenty-six in June but he only has two full major league seasons under his belt and should continue to be an interesting storyline throughout the summer.
In the field the Orioles solidified their outfield with the promotion of Nolan Reimold in May. Going into the season Adam Jones and Nick Markakis were absolutes and Reimold has proven he is a major cog in the best young outfield in baseball.
Behind the plate the experience Matt Wieters has gotten is going to pay huge dividends in 2010. It will only help the cohesiveness of the Orioles battery next year with Wieters getting to catch all of the young pitchers 8-12 times this season.
At the dish the early slump Wieters went through when he was called up at the end of May should be a distant memory on opening day 2010. Wieters should get over 300 at bats this season and has already begun to show some of the potential that will eventually make him an OPS monster in future years.
Right now the Orioles are solid in every outfield position, second base, shortstop, and behind the plate; and next season we may get to see Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell on the corners which would fill every position on the diamond with talent. In fact, the Orioles would not only have a legitimate player at every position on the field in 2010, they would only have two everyday starters over twenty-six (Roberts and Izturis).
This type of young talent hasn’t been on the major league roster in well over two decades and allowing them to get their feet under them in a season when the Orioles aren’t going anywhere will only accelerate the process of getting the Orioles back to respectability. Things may look ugly right now on the field but in two years when the Orioles are beginning to contend, fans can look back at 2009 and know that this horrible season was the beginning of making baseball relevant in Baltimore again.