2014 AL East Preview And Predictions
Mar 11, 2014; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) during his at bat during the fourth inning agains the Boston Red Sox at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
5) Baltimore Orioles: 78-84
1- Why will this team exceed expectations?
Domenic Vadala from Birds Watcher: The Orioles have beefed up their starting rotation with the addition of Ubaldo Jimenez. That takes a bit of pressure off of the likes of Chris Tillman and the other starters to in essence have to be perfect each time out. As a result, some very good pitchers will be relegated to the bullpen or to triple-A, which adds organizational depth. The Orioles were 21-30 in one-run games in 2013, and one hopes that adding Nelson Cruz to a lineup that already hit more home runs than any other team last season might help to add runs to the total and thus help the Birds to more victories in 2014.
2- Why will this team fall short of expectations?
Chris Tillman and the aforementioned Jimenez are the two big arms in the Orioles’ rotation. However the likes of Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen (among others) cannot afford to take steps backwards this year. If that happens, the O’s as a franchise might take a step backwards. The back end of the bullpen is also a major question mark, with the trade of Jim Johnson to Oakland this past winter. Tommy Hunter is expected to be the primary closer, however will he be able to get the job done in a close ballgame? That’s a question facing the Orioles right now.
3- Look for the team to make (this trade)
Really tough to say right now. Top to bottom the O’s have a very ample lineup. If a pitcher or even a reliever on a team that ends up out of contention emerges as a trade candidate, the O’s might have some interest, but we won’t know until the deadline. However the surplus of pitching that they have in camp could act as trade bait. On the flip side, if the unthinkable happens and it’s in fact the Orioles who are struggling through their season, I could see them shopping Nelson Cruz to a contender. (But the thought is that won’t be the case!)
4- Watch out for the emergence of (prospect)
Dylan Bundy “had a cup of coffee” in the big leagues at the end of 2012, however he’s coming off of Tommy Johns surgery. He should be ready by mid-season, that is if the Orioles have a place for him. At some point we might also see second base prospect Jonathan Schoop have the opportunity to come up and play at the big league level. The question is when; last season he received a September call-up.