Spring coaching is a time when a fan’s temper can swing backwards and forwards between boundless hope and deep despair. The next is a debate between the optimistic me and the pessimistic me concerning the 2021 Baltimore Orioles.
Opti-me: I don’t really feel like we Orioles followers are asking very a lot. We don’t anticipate a pennant. We don’t even anticipate a contender. We do wish to see enchancment. If we get that, we’ll be completely satisfied.
And that objective is inside attain. It begins on the prime, with Mike Elias operating issues. No offense to Andy MacPhail, however he was hamstrung by the Angelos household. So for the primary time possibly since Pat Gillick we have now a man making selections who can choose profitable expertise.
We’re already beginning to see that. The membership was higher final 12 months than in 2019, and higher in 2019 than earlier than Elias took over. Solely six gamers stay from the expertise base he inherited, and except for Chris Davis – whose contract makes him immovable – the opposite 5 appear to be a purposeful core.
Pessi-me: Not less than you’re not setting unrealistic expectations. I don’t know whether or not the Orioles can be higher, however I do know Elias turned over the staff’s total infield this low season. Who does that?
Sadly, a lot of the gamers he’s introduced in appear to be stopgaps. You’re definitely not constructing round Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis and Yolmer Sanchez, your third baseman, shortstop and second baseman. They’re all journeymen, and none has a profession common higher than Maikel’s .252.
All people needs Trey Mancini properly as he comes again from most cancers. Whether or not he’s the identical participant stays to be seen. Your hope is to stay him at first base, however in case you carry by way of with utilizing D J Stewart largely at DH that $23 million you’re paying Davis simply rides the pines. Why not reduce him and be executed with it?
Opti-me: They key isn’t Garcia, Franco or Sanchez; they’re simply stabilizers. The bottom line is for the children to proceed to develop. We’d like continued improvement out of Pedro Severino behind the plate, and from the outfield, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander.
We started to see that improvement in 2020. Severino’s been a good defensive catcher, and in 2020 he regarded extra snug on the plate. Mountcastle hit .333 as a rookie, and if he can replicate 2020 over a full 162 video games we’ll be completely satisfied.
Mullins regarded good and Santander produced an .890 OPS with 11 homers. Stretch that over 162 and you’ve got a 40-homer, 120 RBI man.
Pessi-me: I’m glad you raised the problem of kids as a result of for a staff that’s supposedly constructing, the Orioles certain had a cool low season. What’s with releasing Renato Nunez, anyway? Do you’ve one thing towards 26-year previous energy hitters? And are you certain it was time to stop on Rio Ruiz?
Lastly, what’s with delivery Jose Iglesias to the Angels for a few rookie league pitching prospects? It is a profession .278 hitter who performs a good shortstop and is coming off the perfect offensive season he’s ever had.
Opti-me: Pitching’s one other space we have to develop in. To do this you want prospects. However it begins with John Means, who by season’s finish can be acknowledged as a legit staff ace.
His 2-4 document final season is misleading. In two of his losses Means solely allowed one run, however his offense gave him actually no help. He beat the Rays Sept. 20, putting out 12 in doing so. That’s legit potential.
The blokes I’ll be watching carefully would be the different two children, Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer. Akin’s a left-hander who regarded good after getting an opportunity to begin final September. Kremer kicked round within the farm system earlier than Elias gave him an opportunity final September, and he actually solely had one dangerous recreation.
Pessi-me: The blokes I’ll be watching carefully are Wade LeBlanc and Felix Hernandez. In your depth chart they’re your No. 2 and three starters. However discuss insecurity; they’re each in camp on minor league offers and Hernandez got here up with a sore elbow the opposite day.
After I put all that collectively, it sounds to me like your rotation is definitely Means, then possibly LeBlanc, then who is aware of, then presumably Kremer and Akin. In all of baseball, I doubt there’s a much less secure pitching scenario.
Then with that rotation you flip round final month and commerce your most skilled arm, Alex Cobb, to the Angels for a man named Jahmal Jones. He’s an infielder who can’t even make your three-deep at a place the place the starter is Yolmer Sanchez.
Lastly there’s the matter of taking part in within the AL East. You gained’t beat the Yankees or Rays, the Jays are shifting up quick, and I don’t assume the Pink Sox are going to hold round in final place very lengthy. Guess who that leaves within the division cellar?
Opti-me: There’s no query we want Means, LeBlanc, Akin and Kremer to offer us at minimal a secure entrance 4. There’s additionally no query we want Mountcastle, Mullins, Santander, and Severino to proceed their progress. That’s the true key.
But when they do – if by Might 1 it appears like a consultant Oriole lineup will be constructed round these 4 younger staff leaders – then this staff has an opportunity to develop into one thing in 2021.
Can it win the division? Most likely not. However can or not it’s a .500 staff? Most likely sure. And that will be the sort of progress that will put smiles on the faces of Orioles followers.
Different AL East me vs. me debates: