Tag Archives: Baltimore Orioles

2014 AL East Preview

By: Jon

The AL East is definitively the best division in baseball since they have the current champions, the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays. The East has a legitimate threat of possessing three of the five playoff teams in the AL. Besides the Blue Jays, who still have a possibility of finishing over .500, the other four teams have a great chance of winning the division.

 

1) New York Yankees

The Yankees want to win one more before the Captain retires
The Yankees want to win one more before the Captain retires

The Yankees regained the title as the most expensive team in baseball after they spent nearly $500 million on free agents this offseason. The Yankees will be starting a completely new club from last season as only one player, Brett Gardner, will be starting Opening Day this and last season. The Yankees have a lot of talent, but they have many questions that may lead to their demise. Although the Yankees outfield should be the catalyst of team with Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano, and Jacoby Ellsbury, the infield has many questions because the players, Kelly Johnson, Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, and Mark Teixeira, are all coming off  injury and have questions about their age. If the Yankees stay healthy, they should be one of the best teams in baseball and will contend for a championship.

On offense, the Yankees have speed, power, and high batting averages. The middle of the order, McCann, Tex, Soriano, and Beltran, should record a good deal of RBIs since they will have many opportunities to drive in runs. Jacoby Ellsbury, Derek Jeter, and Brett Garnder have shown that they have the ability to get on base, steal bases, and score runs at a very high level. In terms of defense, the team should be one of the best in the league, especially in the outfield. Jacoby and Brett are two of the fastest outfielders in the league and should be able to easily cover every ball in the outfield. Although he is old, Beltran is an above average outfielder with a great arm and instincts. On the infield, the return of Tex will be great since he is a premier fielder and prevents errors with his ability to scoop throws. Although Jeter or Roberts do not have great range, they are steady players and will not make many errors in the field.

On the pitching staff, the Yanks have some questions as well. If Tanaka, Nova, and Pineda can continue their success from Spring Training, the team will have a great pitching staff with each player has a lot of talent. Although CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda have experienced poor spring trainings and did not have a good finish to last season, the Yankees need them to return to their old form. The Yankees have a few quality options, Vidal Nuno, Adam Warren, and David Phelps, if injuries hamper their starting five. Unlike past seasons, the Yanks are not expected to have a good bullpen. The Yanks must answer a few questions if they are going win games with their bullpen like they have in the past. The Yankees need to replace the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, an eighth inning pitcher to replace David Robertson, and a lefty specialist to replace Boone Logan. If the Yankees’ starters fail to get injured, they can use their extra starting pitchers or prospects to man the positions. Although the Yankees have many questions, they have a lot of talent and expectations that their fans hope they can meet this season.

Predicted Yankees Record: 95-67

2) Boston Red Sox

The Sox are hoping to repeat this season
The Sox are hoping to repeat this season

The Red Sox are the defending champion and many believe that they have a great chance of winning the division and repeating as champions. The Red Sox are currently ranked second on this list because they lost a few good players to free agency that must be replaced. The biggest loss the Red Sox endured was Jacoby Ellsbury, who went to the hated New York Yankees for $153 million. Although Jacoby was occassionally injured, he was a great table setter for the Red Sox and was a lock for at least 90 runs a season. The Red Sox are hoping that Jackie Bradley Jr will be able to succeed at the major league level, although he was unable to hit in the majors at the start of last season. Bradley, although an above average defender, will not be able to replace Ellsbury’s defense because he does not have the speed. At shortstop, the Red Sox will have to replace the production from Stephen Drew. Drew was a solid option for the Red Sox because he was a good defensive player and could hit well for a shortstop. The Red Sox hope that top prospect Xander Bogearts will be able to turn his potential into production and replace the void left by Drew. Xander got his first taste of major league experience last season in the playoffs and regular season.

Besides those losses, the Red Sox kept the same team as last year. On offense, the Red Sox have a lot of good sluggers, Ortiz, Pedroia, and Napoli, and other quality hitters, which gives them a balanced offensive attack. The Red Sox have at least five or six players that can hit over .300 this season. Last season, they had three players hit over .300 and five that hit over .294. Like last season, they should rank as one of the best run scoring teams in the league.

In terms of pitching, the Red Sox have a deep rotation even though they do not possess a dominant ace. The combination of Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Felix Doubront, and Clay Buchholz should give the Red Sox an above average staff as long as they do not have to deal with injuries. If the Red Sox do face injuries, they may have serious issues because they do not have many long men/spot starters on their roster. The Red Sox have a very good farm system with good pitching prospects, but it is unknown if they want to hurry these prospects to the bigs. In the bullpen, the Red Sox have one of the best in the league. If Uehara can give the Red Sox similar numbers to last season, they will be in great shape because they have solid lefties and power arms out of the bullpen. The Red Sox should be a 90 win team and compete with the Yankees and other AL East teams for the division and the Pennant.

Predicted Red Sox Record: 94-68

3) Tampa Bay Rays

The pitching could lead the Rays to the playoff
The pitching could lead the Rays to the playoffs

The Rays have been steady winners over the last five seasons. Before their nice run, the Rays were one of the worst teams in baseball and never made the playoffs. Previously, they would always receive high picks in the draft, which enabled them to build a core and achieve success. Although the Rays have lost stars over the past few seasons, they have a deep farm system to replace their stars with stud prospects.

Although the Rays normally win with their pitching and defense, the Rays offense has improved drastically and should be a strength this season. The middle of the order will be led by Evan Longoria, Wil Myers, James Loney, and Matt Joyce. These power hitters should easily be able to drive in a lot of runs since Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings, and possibly star shortstop prospect, Lee, are all good table setters and have the ability to reach base. The Rays should continue playing great defense because Longoria, Myers, Escobar, Loney, and Desmond are excellent defenders and do not commit many errors.

Although the offense is improving, the pitching is the best part of the team. The staff is led by former AL Cy Young Award winner David Price. Along with Price, the Rays have Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Archer, and possibly Jake Odorizzi. Besides Hellickson, each starter had an ERA below 3.50. The Rays’ pitching staff should continue stopping opposing offenses and lead the Rays to the playoff as long as Price stays in the rotation. Since Price has achieved a lot of success, the Rays are looking to trade him since it is unlikely they will be able to re-sign him next offseason. Although the Rays would receive a King’s Ransom for Price, the players will not be able to immediately help the Rays, if they trade him at the trade deadline. Like many prior seasons, the Rays’ bullpen is different from last season and has many questions. The Rays have signed a few relievers that are coming off bad seasons and were able to sign them at a bargain. The Rays will rely heavily on Grant Balfour, Heath Bell, Joel Peralta, and lefty flamethrower Jake McGee. Each reliever has experienced success in the past and the Rays hope they can catch lightning in a bottle once again.

The Rays were able to win 92 games last season despite them starting slowly because of poor pitching. However, this season, the pitching should not let the Rays down at the start of the season and should enable them to win over 90 games again this season. The AL East should have a great fight at the top since each of the three aforementioned teams has the ability to win 95 games. The Rays do not have as much depth or offensive talent as the Red Sox and Yanks, so it is unlikely they will beat them during the regular season.

Predicted Rays Record: 92-70

4) Baltimore Orioles

The O's need Crush Davis to have another great season in order to succeed
The O’s need Crush Davis to have another great season in order to succeed

Unlike previous seasons, the Orioles spent a lot of money this offseason to improve their team. Last season, the Orioles won 85 games, but still finished 6.5 games out of the wild card race. The Orioles possessed one of the best and most explosive lineups in the league a season ago. The Orioles are led by the middle of their order, which includes stars Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, and JJ Hardy. Although the lineup was already deep, they signed power hitting outfielder, Nelson Cruz, to a one year deal. Also, the Orioles will be returning Manny Machado from a serious knee injury, which will bolster the squad. In terms of defense, the Orioles have a solid defense because Jones, Hardy, Wieters, and Machado are great fielders and man the most important defensive positions.

Although the Orioles’ offense and defense is very good, the pitching could pose problems for the Orioles as they attempt to make the playoffs. The Orioles signed Ubaldo Jimenez this offseason and are hoping that he returns to his Rockies’ second half form. The Orioles do not have an ace, but have multiple quality pitchers. The Orioles’ staff, Jimenez, Tillman, Norris, Gausman, and Chen, is deep and should be able to win games against the back of opposing teams’ staff. If the Orioles do experience injuries, they have multiple options that will allow them to continue winning. In the bullpen, the Orioles have multiple weapons that can throw hard and strike out opposing hitters late in games. Although the O’s dumped former closer Jim Johnson, they will be replacing him with Tommy Hunter. Hunter throws extremely hard and has been able to pitch well over the past few seasons as an eighth inning pitcher. Along with hard throwing from the right side, Brian Matusz is a lefty specialist that pitches in the mid to high nineties and has improved over the past few seasons.

Although the Orioles improved their team this offseason, the other teams in this division have improved as well, so it is unlikely they will noticeably improve their win total from last season.

Predicted Orioles Record: 85-77

5) Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays hope they can avoid the East cellar
The Jays hope they can avoid the East cellar

The Blue Jays entered last season as one of the best teams on paper and many thought they would be one of the best teams in the league. However, the Jays did not meet expectations as they suffered many injuries and their players did not play to previous standards.

Like the other American League East teams, the Blue Jays have a threatening lineup. On the infield, the Blue Jays have Jose Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, and Maicer Izturius. In the outfield, the Blue Jays will be led by Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, and Colby Rasmus. The Blue Jays have one of the best 3-4 hitting duos in the league because Bautista is one of the best power hitters and Encaracion has turned into one of the better hitters after a sluggish start to his career. At the top of the order, the Blue Jays will have Reyes and Cabrera at the one-two positions as they both have great speed and the ability to reach base at a very high percentage. If the duo can stay healthy, they will score a lot of runs and help the Blue Jays score runs because Bautista and Encarnacion should both be able to record at least 100 RBIs. Although the Jays have the potential for a great offense, their defense does not have the same ability.

In terms of pitching, the Blue Jays have many questions in their rotation, which negatively separates them from the rest of the teams. Although the Blue Jays gave up two very good prospects to the Mets, they did not receive great production from RA Dickey last season. Although Dickey should be able to achieve more success this season because he is now healthy, it is unknown if he can return to his Cy Young form. After Dickey, the Jays have Brandon Marrow, Mark Buehrle, JA Happ, and Esmil Rogers in the rotation. Mark Buehrle and Esmil Rogers are steady pitchers and should provide the Blue Jays with consistent quality outings. Although Marrow and Happ have great talent and have shown they can produce at the major league level, they are consistently injured and cannot pitch at their full potential. If the duo can remain healthy, the Blue Jays can compete in the East and win about 85 to 90 games.

Although the Jays may have the worst starting rotation in the division, it is likely they have the best bullpen. The back of the Jays bullpen is very solid with Sergio Santos as the closer and Steve Delbar and Brett Cecil as the set up men. Last year, Cecil and Delbar had great seasons and made the All-Star team. If the Jays can maintain a lead into the 7th inning, they will have a great chance of winning games and competing for the last Wild Card spot. Unless the Jays have a few surprises in the rotation, it is unlikely they will win more than 80 games in the difficult AL East.

Predicted Blue Jays Record: 78-84

 

Pics and stats from ESPN.com

Analyzing the trades that occurred before the MLB Trade Deadline

By: Jon

Although the trade deadline did not experience any major trades, a few minor trades may significantly impact the MLB playoff push. As usual, there were a lot of rumors that did not transform into actual trades. A lot of players were not available because a lot of teams feel that they are in the Wild Card Race. Since the TV contracts have added a lot of money to the game, smaller market teams can pay their players instead of trading them to large market teams like the Yankees or Dodgers.

 

 

Baltimore Orioles

Acquired: Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger

Grade: C+

The Orioles desperately needed pitching and they believed that Scott Feldman would solve some of their pitching problems. However, Feldman has not been good during his time with the Orioles. Scott Feldman has struggled over his last 9 starts, five with the Orioles. The Orioles did not need Scott Feldman because they already have average pitchers. Although Feldman was pitching like an ace during the beginning of the season, he was struggling even before he came to the Orioles, which should have warned the Orioles front office.

Scott Feldman
Scott Feldman

Chicago Cubs

Acquired: Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, and money

Grade: B+

The Cubs did a nice job trading away Scott Feldman at his highest value. Scott Feldman has risen o.6 points in just 5 starts before he was traded to the Orioles. The Cubs were able to reel in a nice catch. Jake Arrieta is a young, talented player who needed a change of scenery to succeed in the majors. In his first start with the Cubs, Arrieta pitched six strong innings while only giving up one run. Arrieta is under control for a few years, which is great for a team that wants to rebuild and keep their payroll low. The Cubs acquired Pedro Strop and some international money which will help them rebuild and succeed in the future.

Jake Arrieta
Jake Arrieta

 

 

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Acquired: Ricky Nolasco

Grade: A

If this was a different team, the Dodgers would have been forced to deal a lot more prospects and the grade would have been lower. Although the Dodgers had a lot of pitching at the beginning of the season, their pitching staff was decimated by injuries. The Dodgers needed a pitcher if they wanted to make the playoffs and the World Series. During his four starts, Nolasco has a 3.13 ERA, which is good enough for a fourth starter. The Dodgers only had to eat about $6 million for his services, which is nothing for the Dodgers.

Ricky Nolasco
Ricky Nolasco

Miami Marlins

Acquired: Josh Wall, Steven Ames, and Angel Sanchez

Grade: C-

The only thing that the Marlins received from this trade was some payroll relief. The Marlins received three players, but none of them are considered as top or mid level prospects. If the Marlins waited until the break, they could have received a greater return, like Bud Norris. If Jeff Loria was not extremely cheap, they could have gained a top prospect or a few mid level prospects.

Josh Wall
Josh Wall

 

 

 

Texas Rangers

Acquired: Matt Garza

Grade: A-

The Rangers needed to add another star player if they were going to make the playoffs and make a run to the World Series.  Matt Garza is a top of the rotation pitcher, who can alter the playoff race. Although Garza is usually hurt, Garza has been great since coming off of the DL.  Garza is 7-1 with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.88 ERA with the Rangers. The Rangers were able to obtain Garza without giving up a player, who was in their future. If the Rangers can re-sign Matt Garza this offseason the grade will be bumped to a A+.

Matt Garza
Matt Garza

Chicago Cubs

Acquired: Justin Grimm, Mike Olt, CJ Edwards, and a future player

Grade: A

Although the Cubs traded their best pitcher and a top of the rotation pitcher, they were able to acquire more young talent which will help them in the future. Mike Olt is a top prospect and will have a role with the Cubs, unlike the Rangers. Olt is a really good hitter and will provide a solid middle of the order bat to Cubs in the future. CJ Edwards looks like a future top of the rotation pitcher for the Cubs, although he is only in A ball. This year, Edwards has a 1.83 ERA, 8 wins, and 122 strikeouts in 93 innings. Grimm can be a solid bullpen arm and the future player may be a good player in the future. The Cubs added to their already stacked farm system.

Mike Olt
Mike Olt

 

 

 

Baltimore Orioles

Acquired: Francisco Rodriguez

Grade: B+

Although Rodriguez was successful with the Brewers, they were not playing with a lot of pressure because they are one of the worst teams in baseball. However, the Orioles were able to obtain Rodriguez for a player who’s future was blocked by Manny Machado. Francisco Rodriguez was relegated to the eighth inning role, which has proven to be disastrous. Francisco Rodriguez has not been successful with the Orioles, 6 ERA.

Francisco Rodriguez
Francisco Rodriguez

Milwaukee Brewers

Acquired: Nick Delmonico

Grade: A-

The Brewers’ farm system is extremely thin so any added talent will significantly help. According to Baseball America, Delmonico was the fourth best player in the Orioles organization. The Brewers will need a future replacement for Aramis Ramirez and Nick Delmonico could be the answer to that problem. The Brewers had no use for a top closer because they rarely have a lead. The Brewers were able to net a great return especially compared to the return that the Angels received for their relief pitching. The Brewers need to look toward the  future.

Nick Delmonico Courtesy of BR
Nick Delmonico
Courtesy of BR

 

 

 

Detroit Tigers

Acquired: Jose Veras

Grade: A-

Jose Veras has had a solid season for the Houston Astros this season, which allowed them to sell him at a high price. The Tigers have had a need for relief pitching for a long time. Since Veras is not a true closer, he will be able to adapt to the setup man position. Veras has an ERA under 3.00 while maintaining a WHIP under 1. This was a great pick up for the Tigers because their bullpen is their achilles. The Tigers have a chance of winning the World Series and their bullpen should not get in the way of their desires.

Jose Veras
Jose Veras

Houston Astros

Acquired: Danry Vasquez and a future player

Grade: A-

The Astros had no need for Jose Veras because they are rarely win and have save opportunities. Houston was able to find a team that was desperate and made a great deal. Danry Vasquez was rated as the 6th best player in the Tigers farm system. Vasquez is extremely raw because he is only 19 years old, but has a lot of talent. The Astros need to rebuild their farm system if they want to make the playoffs in the future. Danry is a solid player, who will help rebuild the Astros farm system.

Danry Vasquez Courtesy of BR
Danry Vasquez
Courtesy of BR

 

 

 

Atlanta Braves

Acquired: Scott Downs

Grade: A

The Braves needed a left handed reliever if they were going to reach their goals of reaching the playoffs and winning a few series. The Braves already lost two left handed relievers this season so they were desperate. However, they did not pay like they were desperate. As seen over the years, relief pitching is vital if a team wants to win a World Series because the game shortens and relief pitchers are vital.

Scott Downs
Scott Downs

Anaheim Angels

Acquired: Cory Rasmus

Grade: F

While other teams were acquiring future talent, the Angels did not get much of anything for a quality reliever. The Angels basically gave away a Scott Downs for nothing, when they could have acquired a prospect that will help them in the future. The Angels farm system is depleted and the Angels do not even have  a good team at the major league level. The Angels should be angry with the traded they completed with the Braves.

Cory Rasmus
Cory Rasmus

 

 

 

Boston Red Sox

Acquired: Jake Peavy and Brayan Villareal

Grade: A

The Red Sox needed to acquire a pitcher if they are going to reach the playoffs. The Red Sox batting lineup is deep and potent. However, the Red Sox’s pitching has been bad as of late and they needed help. The Red Sox do not know when Clay Buchholz will return from injury or if he will stay healthy for the rest of the season. Jake Peavy is a true gamer who will find a way to go 7 strong innings while limiting the opposing offense. Even though he is not a Cy Young pitcher, he will improve the Red Sox chance of making the playoffs, especially with the resurgence of the Rays and the skill of the Orioles. Brayan will be a quality relief pitcher for the Red Sox. Any marginal improvement will help the Red Sox playoff push.

Jake Peavy
Jake Peavy

Chicago White Sox

Acquired: Avisail Garcia, Cleuluis Rondon, Francellis Montas, and JB Wendelken

Grade: A-

The White Sox needed to trade Jake Peavy because they are heading into full rebuilding mode. Unless they can drastically improve their team in the next year through free agency or trades, the White Sox look like they will become the Astros. The White Sox got decent value for Jake Peavy. Avisail Garcia looks like he can become a solid outfield for the White Sox over the next decade. During his time at Triple-A, Garcia hit .382 with five homers and 7 doubles. Red Sox gave three players to the White Sox including two decent prospects. Cleuluis Rondon is a young 19 year old hitter who has a chance to become a decent MLB player. Wendelken is a decent pitcher as well.

Avisail Garcia
Avisail Garcia

Detroit Tigers

Acquired: Jose Iglesias

Grade: B+

The Tigers are desperate for a shortstop because of the looming Biogenesis suspensions. The Tigers’ shortstop Jhonny Peralta is currently on the list of players that will probably be suspended for the rest of the season. Since the Tigers are meant to win now, they could not go into the playoffs without a real shortstop. Although Jose is not a good hitter like Peralta, Iglesias is a great defensive shortstop. The Tigers are able to have an offense liability because they have the greatest offensive player in the game and a lot of other solid players. However, the Tigers were forced to give up a talented outfielder. The Tigers can blame this trade on Jhonny Peralta because he forced them to make this trade.

Jose Iglesias
Jose Iglesias

 

 

 

Arizona Diamondbacks

Acquired: Joe Thatcher, Matt Stites, and Comp B

Grade: B+

Ian Kennedy was a lost cause with the Diamondbacks. After his breakout year, Kennedy has been awful over the last year and a half for the Diamondbacks. However, the Diamondbacks do not have a lot of need for Kennedy because they have a lot of starting pitchers at the major and minor league levels. The Diamondbacks are in the playoff push and need help in their bullpen. The Diamondbacks have blown a few saves. The addition of Joe Thatcher will significantly improve their bullpen and chance of becoming a playoff team. Matt Stites is also a minor league relief pitcher who has had a great year. The Diamondbacks made a great deal because they improved their weakness while only giving up an extra asset.

Joe Thatcher
Joe Thatcher

San Diego Padres

Acquired: Ian Kennedy

Grade: C+

The Padres could have received a good prospect for Joe Thatcher. However, they traded the talented relief pitcher for Ian Kennedy. Although Ian Kennedy has some talent, he has failed too often to be relied upon by the Padres. Ian Kennedy relies totally on location because he does not have good stuff. Although Petco Park is a pitcher’s dream, Kennedy is not a good pitcher. The Padres should not expect much from Kennedy because he is extremely inconsistent.

Ian Kennedy
Ian Kennedy

 

 

 

Baltimore Orioles

Acquired: Bud Norris

Grade: B

The Orioles need a number one or two starter, but Bud Norris did not help the Orioles in that way. Although Bud Norris is a nice pitcher, he is at best a number four starter for a contender in the AL East. Bud Norris barely has an ERA under four and the Orioles gave up a two solid prospects for him. However, the Orioles are a win now team and desperate for a pitcher. Since Jason Hammel went on the DL, the Orioles needed a pitcher who could fill in for him and be better than him. The Orioles are in a tight playoff race and need as many wins as possible. Bud is under contract for a few years. The Orioles should have made a trade for Jake Peavey since they probably could have traded for him.

Bud Norris
Bud Norris

Houston Astros

Acquired: LJ Hoes and Josh Hader

Grade: A

The Astros are need of talent and this trade gives them two talented players. LJ Hoes is a major league ready talent and could be the starting outfielder for a few years. Although Hoes is not a great talent, he can be a quality third or fourth for the Astros in the future. Although Hoes can immediately play at the major league level, Josh Hader is a better prospect. Josh Hader is a 19 year old left handed pitcher with a lot of talent. Hader has dominated the lower levels of the minor league. Hader has pitched 113 innings and struck out 127 batters while compiling a 2.45 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. The Astros goal is to obtain more high ceiling talent and this trade helps them in pursuit of their goal.

LJ Hoes
LJ Hoes

 

 

 

 

Pics and stats from espn.com