There seems to be a running debate on whether the Orioles can ever turn their 12 year losing streak around. I believe the Orioles glass is half full and could be overflowing in the future. Last night we saw some of our young players give a glimpse of that future. Hopefully, over the next few months we can fill the cup to two-thirds full or better and the O’s will have accomplished much this year.
Nolan Reimold hit a bomb off Jordan Zimmerman. He hasn’t been up very long but seems to be settling in as our leftfielder. Rich Hill only gave up 3 hits; one of them was a homerun. Hill pitched well in his second start for the O’s. He used all of his pitches but gave up four walks in 5.2 innings. That’s a little high for my liking. He had 6 strikeouts utilizing his curveball. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win.
Brian Roberts collected 3 hits, including the ground rule double before Adam Jones won the game for us. Jones continued his launch into super stardom. He has shown tremendous growth over last year. He has been an offensive monster and our most consistent hitter, even though he isn’t hitting out of his natural leadoff spot. He was 3 for 5 including the game winning 2 run double.
Even with Nick Markakis slumping lately, our core of young players have shined recently. In tonight’s game our bullpen was outstanding, throwing 5-1/3 scoreless innings. Matt Albers and Jim Johnson, two of our young relievers, pitched well and kept us in the game. Danys Baez was a hitting star for one night. He got the win and George Sherrill got the save. Both have pitched well this season and should be moved by the trade deadline to acquire more young talent. The same can be said of Aubrey Huff and Luke Scott.
Markakis, Jones, and Roberts give us an All Star foundation to build our team on. It’s earlier but Reimold looks to be healthy and fulfilling his lofty expectations. Add Matt Wieters to the lineup in June and we have 5 good hitters in the lineup everyday. If Brandon Snyder. Billy Rowell, or Brandon Waring can develop for 2010, we will have a young nucleus of hitters that will rival most in baseball.
We have all heard the names of pitchers on the farm that are going to arrive within 2 years: Hernandez, Arrieta, Tillman, Patton, Matusz, Britton, Erbe, Spoone, etc. Odds are against all of them panning out. If three or more are productive big leaguers or better, we will be on our way. There is at least one pitcher not in this group that will make it to the bigs and shock us all.
We have the #5 overall selection in next months MLB draft. I don’t know who we will take. I cannot keep up with all of the college and high school players eligible for the draft. I’ll trust Andy McPhail and his staff to get the best player available regardless of position. When you draft out of need you weaken yourself. Every team wants more pitching, you can never have too much. Oriole Park is a hitter’s park. When we are competitive it will be easier to add bats then arms. If there is a tie between a bat and an arm I’ll go with the arm. The more you have the easier it is to absorb a flame out.
I grew up during when the Earl of Baltimore managed the team. Pitching and defense were the basis of the Oriole Way and Winning. Andy McPhail learned baseball the Oriole Way and given time will build us a winner. The team is on the right track and will improve as the young talent matures. We have some veterans we can trade and the upcoming draft to stockpile more talent. It won’t happen overnight but the Orioles are on their way to rebuilding our once proud franchise.
Dave Hernandez Update: Struck out 14 last night, didn’t give up an earned run, and 84 of his 114 pitches were for strikes! Will he get a start for the O’s this week? Stay tuned it should be fun.