Slow News Day

There simply is not a lot going on right now.  Nothing, nada, nil, the null-set – it is a slow news day.  It will be a slow news week as the calendar changes to a new year you have to wonder about the future – so let’s take a look at some early predictions for 2010 not only for the Orioles but around the league:

with apologies to Conan O’Brein

In the year 2010…

The Orioles will have an above average offense without making any other completely significant moves before Spring Training.  Andy MacPhail has made his desire for a “Big Bat” well known, and the Orioles could use one.  But the problem is that the biggest bat on the market is Matt Holliday who has dubious numbers outside of Coors Field has already, reportedly, turned down some pricely long-term deals to stay in Colorado at the beginning of last season.  Moreover, the Orioles don’t need another outfielder, unless you want to trade Pie, move Reimold to DH and trade Scott.  Now all of those things could be done, and done easily I’m sure but is that worth Holliday?

Markakis had a weird season.  Power vanished, but his average and doubles were fine.  His walks went away too.  Give Markakis a legit bat to hit in-front of and I believe you will see a nice rebound from him.  Jones needs to show he can put two good halves together and stay healthy and Wieters needs to hit like September 08 for most of the season.  Wieters is the big question mark here.  For once it is not just Orioles fans hyping up their own prospects he has been called the “switch-hitting Jesus” by national sportswriters he needs to let that out in April and never look back.

If those things happen the Orioles will have a solid, above average offense next year.

In the year 2010…

There will be no fewer than two-hundred jokes made about Minnesota’s decision to play baseball in an open-air stadium in April.  The average high in Minneapolis in April is 57 degrees, the average low 36.  For comparison’s sake Baltimore’s averages are 68 and 48, respectively.  Goodbye “Homer-Dome” look for Minnesota to be playing as an extreme pitchers park for the first few months of the season until things warm up in the Land of a Thousand Lakes.

While we are on the subjdect of Target Field, it truly is a beautiful park though it looks like the offspring of Nationals Park, PNC Park and Citizens Bank Park.

In the year 2010…

Brian Matusz will rise up as the ace of the Baltimore Orioles staff.  I have high hopes for this guy, obviously, and I say this not underestimating the other fine young arms the Orioles will throw out there next year but I think Matusz is the best.  I think he has the best stuff and the most talent of them all and while all have room for improvement I feel Matusz will hit the ground running at the beginning of the year and not look back.  Look for him to have a sub 4.20 ERA.

In the year 2010…

Stephen Strasburg will struggle.  The Nationals need to be careful with this kid.  They need to let him mature in the minors a minute and should not, repeat NOT give into the fans demands and rush this kid.  If he is truly ready, he will be ready and that is one thing.  But rushing Strasburg doesn’t do you or he any favors in fact you are setting him for nothing but struggles and early career heartbreak if you put him on the fast track.

Strasburg will probably be good enough to fly through the minors on his own but don’t for a second expect him to be Nolan Ryan on day one.  Wieters proved to everyone that there is a learning curve in this league.  For every Evan Longoria there are two hundred Jeffery Hammonds and thousands of players that fell somewhere in between.  Strasburg may be the greatest thing since sliced bread but mishandling them could simply doom a franchise already on the precipice of complete irrelevance.

In the year 2010…

The Orioles will get off to a hot start and have a decent April.  With the Orioles sitting near the top of the division at the second week in May the fans will be divided into two factions: The ones who are wondering when the fall will occur and the other who actively running pools and taking bets on the precise start of the fall.

Of course, none of us want the fall to happen.  In fact that has been the one thing that Orioles fans continue to point to as the most frustrating thing over the last decade or so – the annual August swoon.  it seems to have become an tradition in Baltimore that the late summer is met with buying school supplies and extended losing streaks.  There are multiple reasons for this happening but they all come back to the Orioles not being able to compete day-in-day out with the beasts in their division and seeing as how August and September we always get a healthy dose of the Yankees and Red Sox we see extended periods of losing.

This year does have a chance to be different as I do feel that this Orioles squad is one of the most talented teams the Orioles will be fielding in recent history but will it be enough to compete with the New York International Baseball Corporation (NYIBC) and Boston?  Right now that does not look too likely.

In the year 2010…

The Orioles will make significant improvements in the win-loss column, fan attendance and the standings.  Despite all of that I think he Orioles will still take some pretty solid steps this year.  I don’t think .500 is out of the question, then again it never is out of the question in December.  I think we will be better than the rapidly rebuilding Blue Jays and I think the Rays will take another half-step back to the pack.  Third place?  Maybe.  Right now the Orioles just need to concentrate on getting better – developing and setting loose the dogs, or in this case birds, of war.  Andy MacPhail has said that he wants to see real improvement this year and Dave Trembley has said he will not be as reluctant to drop the hammer on his team if he feels they are under-performing.  I am looking forward to seeing all of this implemented.  The Orioles have a lot of young, hungry players.  They want aren’t grizzled vets collecting a paycheck and playing out the string, they want success, they want to win and they want to do it in Baltimore.

So let’s get started – in the year 2010