Know Your Enemy: Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles finished 3rd in the AL East, last year, at 85-77 (which was also their Pythagorean record), 11 games better than our Jays. They were fourth best in the AL in runs scored, at 4.60/game (better than our 4.40) and 8th best in the league in runs allowed, at 4.38 (better than our4.67).

They had a couple of notable additions to their team: Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. They also traded for outfielder David Lough. Leaving the team are starter Jason Hammel, closer Jim Johnson (who had 101 saves over the last two seasons) and second baseman/DL resident Brian Roberts.

Catcher: Matt Wieters

Matt's been sort of a disappointment, offensively, hitting a, damn near Arencibian .235/.287/.417. Fortunately, for the Orioles, his glove can carry that bat. He threw out 35% of base stealers. He's 28 now, right in the prime of his career.

First Baseman: Chris Davis

Boy, didn't he have a great season, 53 home runs, 138 RBI, .286/.370/.634, with a 6.8 WAR. Can you imagine the O's got him (and Tommy Hunter) for Kiji Uehara. It is hard to hit 50 home runs two years in a row but he'll likely be over 40.

Second Baseman: Jemile Weeks/Ryan Flaharty

Weeks played just 8 games for the A's last year. In 2012 he hit .221/.305/.304, in 118 games. He hardly seems like an upgrade at 2B, but, the O's traded Jim Johnson to get him, so they'll be using him.

Flaherty hit .224/.293/.390, in 85 games, as a replacement for the often injured Brian Roberts. Ryan was a pickup off in the Rule 5 draft, in 2011. He sort of reminds me of our Ryan Goins, not much bat, but a very good glove. Fangraphs had him at a 14.1 UZR/150. He likely will be the utility infielder.

Shortstop: J.J. Hardy

J.J. hit 25 home runs, in 2013 and had a slash line of .263/.306/.433 and won a Gold Glove. Pretty great really, even if he doesn't get on base much.

Third Baseman: Manny Machado

Decent bat, .283/.314/.432, with 12 home runs and a great glove, his UZR was 31.8/150. Machado likely will start the season on the DL, he's recovering from knee surgery back in October,  in that case Flaharty might play third.

Left Field: Nolan Reimold

Nolan had a rough 2013, he had 2 vertebrates fused together in July. As you might imagine, he didn't hit all that well, .195/.250/.336 in 40 games. He is having a good spring, .280/.419/.400, in 25 at bats. If he can't play David Lough could get the spot, he hit .286/.311/.413  for the Royals last year.

Center Field: Adam Jones

Another really great player (who could walk a bit more). Adam hit .285/.318/.493 with 33 home runs and he won a Gold Glove. And, even though it seems like he has been around forever, he's just 28.

Right Field: Nick Markakis

Nick hit .271/.329/.356 with 10 home runs, in 160 games (in fact the O's had 7 players who played over 145 games and 5 guys who played over 155 games. I wonder what it feels like to have players that play that many game in a season?). It wasn't a very good season, Fangraphs had him at a -0.1 WAR.

DH: Nelson Cruz

Nelson hit .266/.327/.506, with 27 home runs in 109 games, before being suspended for the rest of the season in the Biogenesis scandal. Who knows what he'll hit off the PEDs? He and David Lough will play some in the outfield.

Starting pitchers:

Ubaldo Jimenez: I really don't want to talk about him....I wish we signed him.

Miguel Gonzalez: He had a 3.78 ERA in 30 games, 28 starts. He gave up 24 home runs and only struck out 120 in 171 innings.  He's 30 now, but this is just his 3 rd season in the majors. Both his first 2 seasons he had ERA's in the 3's but FIP in the mid-4's. You'd think his ERA would have to jump this year.

Chris Tillman: Chris was 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA, in 2012, but his FIP was 4.42. He gave up 33 home runs He's just 26.

Bud Norris: Bud was traded to the O's at the end of July. As an Astro, he had a 3.93 ERA, but in 11 games, 9 starts, with Baltimore, he had  4.80 ERA.

Wei-Yin Chen: Chen, signed out of Taiwan, in 2012. In 2 seasons, he has a 4.04 ERA in 55 starts.

Relievers:

Tommy Hunter: With the trade of Jim Johnson, Hunter looks to be the closer. He isn't a 'proven closer' but he likely can do the job. He had a 2.81 ERA last year. In 86 innings, he gave up 11 home runs, more than you would like from a closer.

Setup: Darren O'Day, Brian Matusz. Middle Relievers: Ryan Webb, Troy Patton, Brad Brach, T.J. McFarland, Josh Stinson, Kevin Gausman.

Outlook:

I don't see them as that being that much better than the Jays, but I do wish that the Jays had signed Ubaldo Jimenez. Last year, they did avoid injuries, whether by luck or by skill. I think, to compete, they will have to do that again. Their starting rotation isn't terribly deep or good, but then neither is ours. If they are going to win, it will be on their offense to score runs, but they have a pretty good offense. A lot of things would have to go right for them to compete for a playoff spot.

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