Key Additions—Derek Lee, Mark Reynolds, JJ Hardy, Vladimir Guerrero
Key Losses—Kevin Millwood, Ty Wigginton
Lineup—With the additions I mentioned above added to Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and company, and with the continued development of Matt Wieters, on paper this seems like a very solid lineup. However, Vlad and Derek Lee are no longer in their prime, and to count on these guys as middle of the order bats is a big risk. Reynolds should provide good pop, but his strikeouts will continue to bring him down. Overall this lineup is much improved, however I am a bit skeptical on the ability to keep it healthy.
Rotation—With the addition of Justin Duchscherer to take the place of Kevin Millwood, and the young arms they have like Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Matusz, you have to believe this rotation will be improved. But having to face the AL East is a tall task for such a young rotation. I like what they are doing with this rotation, but it still has a long ways to go to compete.
Bullpen—Although you have heard of a few of their back end options, such as Kevin Gregg and Mike Gonzalez, I don’t believe in this bullpen. Gregg has never had the shut down stuff to be a dominant closer, and Gonzalez hasn’t been the same guy he was when he saved 24 games for the Braves in 2006. I just don’t think this bullpen has enough depth or power arms to get the job done effectively.
Impact Rookie—Zach Britton, LHP. Britton commands three pitches and could force himself into the rotation with a strong spring. It’s more likely he’ll return to AAA Norfolk where he already made 12 starts last season.
Outlook—The Orioles are a breakout pick from a lot of analysts, with all of the additions they made as well as Buck Showalter being on the job for a full year. But at the end of the day, they play in the AL East. I really doubt that the lineup they put on the field on opening day can stay healthy for the majority of the year, and even if they do, relying on Lee and Vlad is quite a large thing to ask. I do see them as a improved ball club, but I am not nearly as high on them as others.
Brad Koesters, MLB Correspondent.
AL East Preview: