Its the beginning of May and the O’s are sitting at 16-9 and one game out of first place. Usually by now we are talking about their continued lack of talent or player development. After Wednesday night’s 5-0 shutout win over the Yankees, the Baltimore Orioles finally are showing something.
Just wondering how long it takes before the Buster Olneys and Ken Rosenthals of the baseball world will catch on. No need to discuss the previous say 15 years, but so far this one has been great to watch. I know they can tailspin down any minute but lets enjoy while we sit 2 1/2 games ahead of the $200 million Yankees.
One man who should not be forgotten after the great start is former GM Andy MacPhail. I will admit at points last year I was hoping he would leave at the end of 2011, but what he pulled off late in the season has to be commended. First, he dealt Koji Uehara for two solid pieces of this year’s strong start, Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter. Davis has been solid at first and seems to be getting more confident each game as a hitter. Hunter has not been spectacular but has easily filled in as a middle of the rotation starter who can give you at least 5-6 innings a start.
Then MacPhail fleeced the Rangers again at the deadline and gave them 2-year fan favorite Mike Gonzalez and got in return Pedro Strop. Strop has been a major factor in Baltimore’s bullpen domination so far. These are the moves that can start a change in an organization. O’s fans should be thanking Andy MacPhail for not going out as a lame duck GM last season.
After MacPhail decided to leave, the Orioles needed a new person to make baseball decisions. After interviewing multiple up and coming baseball minds, Peter Angelos shocked the baseball world and brought Dan Duquette back into the majors. The move was seen as another poor one by Angelos. Duquette took a passive approach towards the big money free agents and quickly took some flack. It was the Orioles continuing the moves of the Orioles of the past 15 years. The ghost of the Albert Belle signing once again was visible over the warehouse.
Duquette chose to bring in “exciting” free agents like Wilson Betemit and Darren O’Day and travel across the ocean to get Wei-Ye Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada instead of making serious runs at Prince Fielder or CJ Wilson. And Orioles fans once again began to count down till Ravens training camp. Then he made a move that was questioned (by me included at the time) and brought many fans to rock bottom. Dealing their most solid starter of the past 5 years Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. Duquette was crushed for such little return for Guthrie.
Forward to now. Hammel has been outstanding, Chen solid and better than anyone could have expected, O’Day and Lindstrom have ERA’s of 0.71 and 0.00 and Betemit has been a better option than pathetic third baseman Mark Reynolds.
And remember this from Sunday. O’s fans have to be happy with what we have got from Dan Duquette and his player personnel crew so far.
I will be honest I had this team pegged for maybe 70 wins, and who knows, maybe that’s where they end up. What I should have thought about in March was who was in the dugout. Buck Showalter is a winner. He is one of those coaches or managers who you just don’t see having back to back bad seasons. It didn’t happen in New York, it didn’t happen in Arizona and it didn’t happen in Texas. And although he hasn’t won a World Series he has gotten his teams to that level.
Thank god Bobby Valentine turned the O’s down. And it was great to see Joe Girardi sitting in the losing dugout the past two nights. MacPhail and Angelos both should get credit for getting Buck to Camden Yards. It was a huge get for a bad organization at the time. It makes me feel more confident knowing that a successful baseball person like Buck Showalter saw something in the Orioles to take the job almost two years ago.
Where will this season go? The starting pitching will need to hold up and that is a strong challenge. Staying healthy will be key but hopefully guys like Chris Tillman and Brad Bergeson see what’s going on the major league level, get going and add some starting depth. Plus, I think we will see the Dylan Bundy machine sooner than later. I’ve heard too many experts say that he is too good not to be to the majors this season. The bullpen has been rock solid. Even with a short loss of Jim Johnson, they stayed strong. As long as the starters can go innings and not wear them out it should continue to be a strong suit.
The lineup does scare me down the road if they lost a Wieters or Jones, both on their way to All Star status. Reynolds is a disaster, Nick Johnson finally got a hit and Nolan Reimold has been a monster but can’t stay in the lineup. Next off-season I think they will look at add offense including the start of Manny Machado’s pro career. All in all I an thrilled with the start and hopefully the can go into Boston and shut them down like the Yankees. Sorry to Bobby Andino I should have mentioned you in this, you have been great also.