Baltimore Orioles: 2012 Season in Review
October 15, 2012 in MLB
By Staff Writer John Manuel:
Congrats are due to the 2012 Baltimore Orioles team led by Buck Showalter. Although the season ended earlier than we all hoped, no one could have thought this team was playoff material last spring. Talk about the disaster that Peter Angelos has been quieted, as his choices of Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette clearly paid off big time this season and hopes that the franchise can maintain its winning ways for the next few years. So where does it leave us for 2013?
Up top Dan Duquette, Buck Showalter and his staff will be back. It doesn't look like we have a 1997 Davey Johnson situation coming. Both Buck and Bob Melvin deserve the manager of the year award and if Melvin does win, it won't matter because all of Baltimore has already shown its appreciation for what Showalter has quickly managed. Once again thanks to Bobby Valentine for not having interest in the O's. So what will Buck have to work with in 2013? Probably not much change it looks like.
The Orioles are a team full of players that they have either resigned or have players under their control. The three most notable free agents will be Mark Reynolds Nate McLouth and Joe Saunders. Reynolds thrived defensively at first once Manny Machado took over at third. But is his high strikeout output worth picking up and $11 million option? Especially with Chris Davis in the same lineup. The team should have money to work with but I would probably look to negotiate a better deal with Reynolds first. If that doesn't work, one person I would look at is the Nationals Adam LaRoche. The O's probably saw enough of Nick Swisher's struggles last week to pass on him also. I love what Reynolds did with the love and with the bat in the beginning of September but there is a legit chance his numbers could even drop in 2013.
With Nick Markakis returning from injury and assuming Chris Davis is your DH, I think the only two spots open are second base and left field. Second base should be open and I think this is where the O's can try to add someone who can hit at the top of the order. There is not much there when it comes to free agency so maybe the trade route but is there anyone there who can be an upgrade from Andino or Flaherty? I can't see Brian Roberts back as a starter, although this isn't the NFL, so guaranteed contracts will most likely give him a chance to compete in the spring.
As for left field, unless someone jumps on McLouth's great series and pays him, I figure he will look to be back with the O's. With Nolan Reimold due back also they should have a solid battle for left field. Either way, it helps with depth. My guess is that they stay out of the Josh Hamilton battle although he wouldn't have to worry about Brian Matusz if he came here.
As for pitching, for once it looks to be positive. Starting backwards the bullpen should stay intact and can only get better if Matusz and Tommy Hunter are willing to stay there. All the mainstays of 2012 are arbitration eligible such as Johnson, Strop, and Everyday O'Day.
When it comes to the starters, for once they will go into the season with more than just promise. I think Joe Saunders and the Orioles will look to stay together first of all. Gold mines Chen and Gonzalez have to go into spring training looking like they are in the top 5. Jason Hammel is a lock of course to be in the rotation and barring any knee setbacks Duquette could look to working on an extension with him.
Chris Tillman was exceptional in his return to the big league club and hopefully Zach Britton can do the same. And could we see Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausmann with the club also? For once this team does have arms and could use a couple to add a stronger clear number one type starter like Josh Johnson. Every winter top starters are moved and I think the O's will be talking.
All in all, the jokes about when pitchers and catchers report for Orioles are no longer. There will be a clear excitement going into 2013 and if the team can maintain its core and even add a couple parts it should look to be a contender again with the Old Yankees and the continually changing Rays. Great season and looking forward to many more.