72 games into what has been a remarkable season in Birdland, I believe it’s time to reevaluate everything that we thought about this team and this organization.
Coming into the 2008 season, most, including myself, predicted another season of losing, a lot of losing for the O’s. In its baseball preview, Sports Illustrated predicted that the Orioles would finish with the least wins in baseball. For most O’s fans, this season would be won in the minor leagues with the development of top prospects Wieters, Tillman, and Arrieta among many others. At this point in the season, many fans would not have been disappointed with the kind of losing seen by our neighbors down I-95. That was simply the expectation.
On June 21st, however, the Orioles are 4 games above .500 while playing in by far the toughest division in baseball. Even more remarkably, the Birds have had only 2 consistent starters all year (2-homer Danny gets the benefit of the doubt) and lack a hitter batting above .300.
That’s really the kicker for me.
The Orioles are 38-34 and aren’t even playing that well.
Certainly, the Orioles have gotten some great individual performances thus far. I’m not saying all 25 guys on the roster are not playing their best. The Orioles have gotten outstanding results from their bullpen. It also looks like they have a very solid 4-man rotation in the outfield
For the most part, however, the Orioles are winning off of heart, great management, and persistence instead of overachieving seasons by individual players. I hate when Jim Hunter refers to the “battling Birds” as much as you do but in this case, he’s right. This team doesn’t give up, and it’s really amazing.
Think about an Orioles team that didn’t have to come back every night because of 2 more consistent starters in the rotation. Think about an Orioles team with a major league shortstop. Think about an Orioles team with a power hitter in the middle (cough, Mark Teixeira, cough).
To me, that team would be pretty darn good even in the AL East.
That’s where I end this blog because I can’t really put the pieces all together. I leave that open to you.
If the Orioles survive this road trip and excel in what looks to be an easy July, do you become a buyer at the trade deadline? Will the 2009 or 2010 Orioles be legitimate playoff contenders? Is it still too early to rush to judgment?
All I know is, it’s been a great ‘08 in Birdland.