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by user Timothy Moreland
The Orioles don't have a terrible pitching staff; although, they will have to face the Yankees and Red Sox offenses too many times. Their rotation is lacking a true ace; instead, it is made up of solid #3 and #4 guys. Rodrigo Lopez frustrated me and everyone else who owned him on a fantasy team last year. One game, he would go out and shut down the other team and the next, he would let up 10 runs. If Lopez can learn consistency, he could emerge as a big time sleeper. Benson was a solid addition to a team that has been reluctant to go out and get pitching help in the past because, well, pitchers can't hit. With Benson, you can rest assured that he will give you an ERA in the low to mid-4.00s, which won't hurt the team at all. Bedard has the best stuff in this rotation, which bodes well for improvement. He isn't hurt by the HR ball, and strikes out a decent amount of hitters(7.9 K/9 last year). Also, he cut his high walk rate by half a walk per nine; although, it is still too high. If Bedard keeps on improving his walk rate while maintaining his other skills, he could join Lopez as a breakout player. Daniel Cabrera actually does a better job at striking out batters than Bedard(8.8 K/9), but struggles with walks. He got 52% of balls in play to be grounders and, just like Cabrera, is a few steps of improvement in control to breaking out. Chen was a solid performer last year with a 3.83 ERA and owns a 4.27 career ERA. The HR ball has been his undoing(33 last year) but he still manages to provide good value. If some of these breakout candidates come through, the O's could have themselves a respectable rotation. Chris Ray doesn't have closer stuff but he remains the best option in that bullpen. Outside of the closer spot, LaTroy Hawkins and Aaron Rakers are the only bright spots in a very weak bullpen.
<stats> Player=Rodrigo Lopez Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SP Kris Benson
<stats> Player=Kris Benson Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SP Erik Bedard
<stats> Player=Erik Bedard Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Daniel Cabrera Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SP Bruce Chen
<stats> Player=Bruce Chen Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
I like their offense to be in the top half of the league in runs scored. Brian Roberts broke through last year and will provide good speed with a high-.300's OBP out of the leadoff spot. Melvin Mora dropped off significantly from the plate last year. Luckily, he was at such a high level that he still remained valuable at the plate. I think Mora bounces back this year to just under a .400 OBP and exceeds the .500 mark in slugging. Tejada had the second best offensive year of his career last year, in spite of the loss of power in the second half. Tejada hit 30 years old so don't expect him to improve anymore. This is one of the beter top-three hitters in any lineup. Gibbons has a terrible OBP but his slugging last year jumped from .375 to .516. Looking at his history, it's possible he will maintain that. However, it is just as likely he drops back down or gets hurt. If he produces like he did last year, the O's could be a surprisingly good offense. The #5 spot is filled by the rapidly deteriorating Javy Lopez. In 2003, Lopez was one of the most valuable players in the league, then he dropped quite a bit in 2004 but was still valuable. Last year, Javy Lopez dropped to the point he is no longer a major threat at the plate. Maybe a full year at DH will stop the slide and maybe even reverse it some. If the O's can get 20 HRs with a slightly respectable OBP, that should be enough. Having Kevin Millar on the bench gives Baltimore a solid bat that can spell the starters at 1B, LF, RF, and DH. The bottom of the order has some big question marks. Jeff Conine was without any power last year (3 HRs in 382 PAs). Still, he hit .304 and wasn't that bad. Moving out of Florida and back to Camden Yards should help to add some HRs back but it won't stop him from turning 40. Ramon Hernandez is one of the more consistently good batters at catcher. He is the only sure thing to produce at the bottom of this order. Corey Patterson...I'm not sure what to expect. After being advertised as a future star for years, he became one of the biggest offensive liabilites in the game. He still has speed and could hit 20+ HRs in Baltimore but a .254 OBP won't due. Patterson has to get better because, well, he can't get any worse. Rounding out the order is Luis Matos. There isn't a whole lot special about Matos. He fields well, hits average, and steals bases but gets caught too many times. He probably shouldn't be a starter for a major league team.
Projected Batting Order
<stats> Player=Brian Roberts Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
3B Melvin Mora
<stats> Player=Melvin Mora Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Miguel Tejada Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
RF Jay Gibbons
<stats> Player=Jay Gibbons Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
DH Javy Lopez
<stats> Player=Javy Lopez Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
1B Jeff Conine
<stats> Player=Jeff Conine Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Ramon Hernandez Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Corey Patterson Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
LF Luis Matos
<stats> Player=Luis Matos Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
Projection: 77-84 4th in the AL East... Their offense is better than their pitching, but the upside lies in their pitching. If the batters don't decline too badly and some of the starters breakthrough, this team has a shot at catching the Blue Jays.
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Mon 03/13/06, 9:25 am EST