With a little more than 72 hours before the first pitch of the 2008 Baseball season for the Orioles, I wanted to examine the team as well as the team playing 45 minutes away in Washington.
Many an expert have predicted the Orioles to finish fifth in their division and lose close to or more than 100 games. Meanwhile the team in Washington could be in a similar situation. The Nationals have played to a .463(225-261) winning percentage since the 2005 season. The Orioles during the same stretch have played at a .438(213-273) clip. OUCH! I will now stick a hot poker in my ear.
So I was thinking which team will be worse this season… or does it really matter? Well I kind of do think it matters. It matters because in the three seasons that the Expos became the Nationals they have won more games than the Birds. What in the hell is going on around here?
If you have Peter Angelos’s email address, please forward that last paragraph to him. Thank you.
I will now play judge and jury to determine which team will win more games this season. Let’s admit it… Both teams will suck again this year… and next. But for the purpose of this blog I will break each position down to determine an edge in that area.
Catchers: Ramon Hernandez vs Paul Lo Duca. Hernandez has to stay healthy this year for the Orioles to produce some runs. Hernandez has the ability to post .270-18-72 like number. Lo Duca handles pitchers well and get timely hits. He was one of many players mentioned in the Mitchell Report. I give the edge to Lo Duca. He has more phone number and connections to take the edge off than Hernandez. EDGE: Nationals.
First Baseman: Kevin Millar vs Dmitri Young. “Cowboy Up” vs “The Meathook”. Classic WWE match. Millar is by far the most fun spirited ball player I can remember watching. Millar when hot… is a very dangerous hitter. The problem is he doesn’t stay hot for months. He may have a breakout week instead of a month. Young might have his playing time reduced if Nick Johnson is healthy. Young was the Nationals best player last season. EDGE: Push
Second Baseman: Brian Roberts (for now) vs Ronnie Belliard. B-Rob is one of the best lead-off hitters in the game and causes havoc on the base paths like no other Oriole. How long will be here? My guess… All-Star break. Belliard, a reject from the Indian organization, is having a great Spring Training to hold off Felipe Lopez for the job. The Orioles have a big edge here, but that all will change sometime this Summer. EDGE: Baltimore (for now).
Third Baseman: Melvin Mora vs Ryan Zimmerman. I might be wrong but I think Mora has more kids than hits last season. Well that’s the way it felt. Zimmerman is a ball player plain and simple. He plays the game like it is suppose to be played. No contest at the position. EDGE: Nationals.
Shortstop: Luis Hernandez vs Cristian Guzman. If you were to put Guzman up against every other starting shortstop in MLB, the other team probably has the edge. The Orioles have no real shortstop at this time. You could see Freddie Bynum or Brandon Fahey playing there some this year. You could put all their abilities together and mold them into one shortstop and Guzman still wins. EDGE: Nationals.
Outfield: Luke Scott, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis vs Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge and Austin Kearns. I got goose pimples just typing the three Oriole names. If you take them as a group or try and break them down by outfield position, the conclusion will be the same. The Birds have the better outfielders today. I like Scott more than Dukes. I like Jones more than Milledge and I love Markakis over Kearns. This group of outfielders is the strongest the Orioles have seen since mid 1990’s. This group of outfielders will be worth the $9 I will spend on a ticket. EDGE: Baltimore
Bench: The brightest star bench player for the Orioles is Scott Moore. You could say Aubrey Huff, but I say HORSESH*T. Take that Aubrey. The best the Nationals offer come from two players; Nick Johnson and Willie Harris. Neither teams bench will scare opposing pitchers or managers. EDGE: Push
Starting Pitchers: Jeremy Guthrie, Steve Trachsel, Daniel Cabrera and Adam Loewen vs Odalis Perez, Jason Bergmann, Tim Redding and Matt Chico. I’m only going with the first four starters because quite frankly each teams number five starter is not worth the time. Since I’m a homer and not afraid to admit that, I like the Birds first four better than the Nationals. The combine record for the four National pitchers 105-127 with an ERA of 4.75. The Birds… 196-214 with an ERA of 4.60. The X factor for the Orioles this season will be Adam Loewen and Daniel Cabrera. You pretty much know what to expect from Guthrie and Trachsel. If the Birds are to win 72 games like I predict, I need Loewen and Cabrera to stay healthy and win 12-15 each. EDGE: Baltimore
Relief Pitchers: George Sherrill, Jamie Walker and Chad Bradford vs Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch and Luis Ayala. If the Orioles bullpen can just be middle of the road good we have a great chance to compete everyday. If the bullpen pitches the way it has over the last 9 years… look out below. The Nationals have Cordero to hold the fort down. There is a chance he will be dealt later this season to make room for Jon Rauch to become the closer. Sherrill will be closing games for the first time in his career. He feels like he can handle the job and so do I. The Birds have way to many good arms for the Nationals to compete with us. EDGE: Baltimore
So there you have it. After breaking each position down it becomes clearer who has the better team this season. The Boston Redsox. Sorry. I meant the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sorry again. Couldn’t help myself.
Final records. Baltimore 72-90. Washington 70-92.