Team Analysis: AL East – Baltimore Orioles

AL East

Baltimore Orioles

CRamon Hernandez: He had an injury plagued year in 2007 and it had to affect his numbers. He usually hit better than they were last year. I expect him to bounce back in 2008 if healthy.

1B – Kevin Millar: Fantasy owners might appreciate that Millar is also available as a DH, too. His 2007 was low for him, but his OBP was above the league average and should be again in 2008. I would expect him to hit closer to .270 also. He is a streak hitter and is great at keeping a team loose throughout the year. Every team needs a Millar as long as he is not a detriment to the team either offensively or with his glove (which can be prevented by placing him as a DH). But with this team looking like they’re heading for a youth movement, I’d prefer to go with a more mature veteran presence than Millar (but as I’ve mentioned, he’s great for a veteran club).

2BBrian Roberts: A top fantasy player at 2B for his respectable average, high OBP and stolen bases (50), but if you believe the rumors all winter long, he most likely will not be with the team at the start of the season. If he is, he may be trade bait come July!

3B – Melvin Mora: High priced as he may be, he is still an average player at 3B offensively, but you would prefer a bit more power out of that position.

SSMiguel Tejada: Now with the Astros in a trade this off season, he has seen his offensive numbers and his range decline in recent years and 2007 was no different. All of that said, he is still a better than average hitter at this position but his decline of coming up fast! Be careful fantasy owners! The O’s depth chart suggests that Luis Hernandez might be the SS of the future, or at least of 2008.

DH – Aubrey Huff: He can also play DH and 3B (but does not qualify there yet for you fantasy players). He’s an average player with position flexibility who gets on fire when he’s hot, but overall he is under the league average (especially for power) in all three positions. Too bad he doesn’t play 2B or C.

LFJay Payton: Payton is an average player at best offensively. His power numbers for a corner OF’er are just not realistic in today’s game unless he’s regulated to a platoon or a bench role. I do admit that I have not seen enough of him to speak on his defensive play, but to keep him in the starting lineup every day, his glove work would needs to be close to gold glove caliber to make up for those low power numbers (again, just my opinion). With the Bedard trade bringing Adam Jones to Baltimore, Payton may be returning to a platoon or even a bench role unless he or Jones can handle the rigors of CF.

CF – Corey Patterson: Currently a Free Agent, Patterson is a speedster and more valuable as a fielder at this point in his career. Personally, I’d like to see someone with his speed to get on base more (he had a .304 OBP in 2007). The O’s, A’s or the Twins are viable options for him in 2008.

RFNick Markakis: He and, for now, Roberts, are the teams two stars. Markakis is a tantalizing option in both the Fantasy and real life. He’s young and shows sign of improving still. He’s a raw talent that strikes out a lot, but still has a high OBP (.362 in 2007) and he’s no slouch in the field if I remember correctly. 🙂  Prediction, he will be the team’s All Star representative in 2008, but that almost goes without saying!

SP – Erik Bedard: Now in Seattle as their opening day starter, Bedard was the # 1 guy in Baltimore in 2007 going 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA, a WHIP of 1.09 and 221 K’s (that’s a 10.93 SO9) before he was shut down at the end of last year due to injury. Look to either Cabrera or Guthrie to become the new # 1 Baltimore in 2008!

SPJeremy Guthrie: A rookie in 2007 posted a 7-5 record in 26 starts with an ERA of 3.70 and a WHIP of 1.21 and if the O’s can score some runs and the bullpen hold some leads, I expect Guthrie to improve upon most of those numbers in 2008.

SP – Daniel Cabrera:  is one of the O’s most highly touted pitchers (outside of the now traded Bedard), but he has yet to overcome some of his control problems which has led to him having a WHIP of 1.54 which might partially explain why he went 9-18 with an ERA of 5.55 in 2007. If his WHIP can be dropped at least .20 points then he’ll be a very exciting pitcher going forward for years to come. He’s got the stuff to do it!

SPSteve Trachsel: Who won’t be around in 2008, but gave the O’s some experience in 2007. He went 6-8 with a 4.48 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. No big loss here and at his age, those numbers (especially his WHIP) won’t improve much.

SP – Adam Loewen: In only 6 starts in 2007, Loewen went 2-0 with a 3.56 ERA and a frighteningly high WHIP of 1.75 (he actually gave up more walks than Ks per 9 innings). The hope is that he does not crack the 5 man rotation until those walk totals come down.

RPDanys Baez: who will also not be with the club in 2008 due in part to his 6.26 ERA and his WHIP of 1.57. He did, however, have 3 saves but had blown 2 to go along with 14 Holds.

RP – Brian Burres: Another 2007 rookie! Although he did have 17 starts in 2007 he also pitched over 30 innings of relief & some think that he will start 2008 in the O’s bullpen. He posted a record of  6-8 with a 5.95 ERA & a 1.70 WHIP. These last 2 numbers are probably preventing him from getting to the 5th spot in the rotation, but they may not have a choice.

RPJames Hoey: A rookie last year went 3-4 with a painstakingly high ERA of 7.30 to go along with a WHIP of 1.74 will simply not cut it in 2008 unless injuries make it necessary.

RP – Jon Leicester: In 5 starts he averaged over 5 innings per start with a record of 2-3 but did have a horrid ERA of 7.59 to go along with a WHIP of 1.53 which can be improved upon given his low number of walks.

RPChad Bradford: One of the few RPs on the team with an ERA under 4.00 (3.34, best in the bullpen). Bradford had 2 saves but had blown 5 to go along with his 19 Holds and a WHIP of 1.44 (unusually high for him). He no longer looked like the awkward, unhittable submariner that he once was with the A’s.

Set-up – Jamie Walker: Before filling in the closers role when Chris Ray went down due to injury, Walker was Ray‘s set-up man. He will continue to be the team’s closer in 2008! He had a 3.38 ERA with 7 saves, but had blown 6 with a team leading 21 Holds and a WHIP of 1.21.

CloserChris Ray: Until his injury, he recorded 16 saves with only 4 blown saves, but did have an ERA of 4.43, which indicated that something wasn’t quit right with Ray, he also had a respectable WHIP of 1.24.

Down on the Farm:

Most of what they have of quality down on the farm, which is even close to being ready will probably be  seen with the big club in 2008 and the next few years to come.

2008 NEEDS:

Maturity from the pitching staff outside of Guthrie, Bradford and Walker. They could also use another SS to truly replace what they lost in Tejada.

My Prediction:

The Baltimore Orioles will be in last place in the AL East in 2008 due to all of the recent trades and especially if they trade Roberts, too. They are in a definite rebuilding mode which might provide many losing seasons in the near future. Let’s hope not, this franchise has too much history. Cal Ripken should attempt to buy the team with a supporting cast. It would be good for baseball!!!

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