Nate Note: This is RDT. He straight up knows his Orioles stuff. If you don’t like baseball, this blog and his future blogs probably aren’t for you. If you like baseball, this blog and his future blogs will give you the best Orioles info you can find. I plucked him from the best Orioles blog on the internet and brought him to Barstool. And he’s about 1000x more optimistic than I am. So enjoy.
Another season of Orioles magic is upon us. This used to be the time of year where O’s would say, “Maybe the Orioles won’t finish in last this year!” Starting right now, I’m here to tell you those days are long gone my friends. Now that spring training has commenced, let’s touch on a few of the Birds’ major storylines.
Welcoming Suk-Min Yoon and Ubaldo Jimenez
It took longer than it should have, but the Orioles spent some money. The pitching rotation was subpar in 2013 and prior, but down the home stretch of winter the staff has really taken shape. It started way later than it should have with the signing of 27-year-old South Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon.
(This music is AWESOME)
Yoon signed a three-year deal worth $5.75-million, which could grow to about $13-million if Yoon starts more than 26 games this season. With that said, don’t be surprised if he starts the season in AAA Norfolk. But it also wouldn’t shock me if he found his way into the rotation or bullpen due to injuries or his performance on the field either. If he does find his was in the O’s rotation or bullpen, let’s hope it’s because he’s that good and not because they are desperate to rush him into a prominent role.
After Yoon, the biggest signing of the offseason undoubtedly is Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez signed a four-year $50-million deal. This is the largest and longest contract the Orioles have ever given to a pitcher. No wonder this team has only had two winning seasons since 1997. They may have overpaid but now they hopefully have that veteran ace of the staff. While Jimenez had an insane 2010 season with Colorado when he went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA he hasn’t been able to replicate that season and has been mediocre the last two-and-a-half years with the Indians, although he did have a very solid second half of last season to finish, where he finished 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA while fighting for a playoff spot.
$12 million a year is a lot for an inconsistent pitcher, but Jimenez is up for the task of being the ace the Orioles need in their rotation. The guy is a horse too, averaging 28 starts a year for the last eight seasons. He is a groundball pitcher, which will help him while pitching in Camden Yards. Fill in the spots behind him with Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez, and the possibility of Dylan Bundy joining the team mid-season, and that sounds like a pretty good rotation to me.
A lot of the Orioles success this year will depend on the health of upcoming superstar third baseman Manny Machado. We last saw Machado as he ripped his knee to shreds on the carpet of Tropicana Field back on Sept. 23. The injury wasn’t as bad as it looked, but he still chose to undergo surgery in October. He has since been cleared to start participating in baseball activities and looks to be on track to start at third on Opening Day. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Machado is the best fielder in the league at any position. Plain and simple, the kid is a stud. If he has to miss the first few games that’s fine. Don’t rush him. We don’t need another RG3 situation. #AllInForOpeningDay
The Orioles also upgraded their DH position by signing Nelson Cruz to a one-year $8 million deal. In order to sign him, the Birds had to give up their second round pick in this years draft. Fine by me, the Orioles have had a tough time developing draft picks anyways. This deal is a STEAL for the Orioles because Cruz’s originally wanted four years and $75 million. Yeah right, no way. $8 million is a damn bargain.
Cruz is known for his PED use, and was suspended for 50 games last season, but the dude mashes, over the last 5 years he has averaged 27 HRs. In a tiny park such as Camden Yards, who knows how many he would hit. A 3-4-5 batting order of Davis, Jones, and Cruz? Sign me up for that. Fine by me.
Cruz will most likely not see the field. He should just throw his glove away at the airport. Lets be real, this guy made Manny Ramirez look like a good outfielder. But Cruz wasn’t brought to Baltimore to play defense, he was brought here to hit moon shots. Pencil him in for 33 HR, 80 RBI, and 0 steroid use.
What the hell happened last year man? He went 31 games IN A ROW without an extra-base hit. Markakis had a rough year last year and I fully expect to see him bounce back hitting in the leadoff spot for the Orioles. As reported by media and Banks, it seems as if Markakis has put on some weight, 15-20 pounds. Hopefully this muscle will turn those bloop liners to second into line drives into the outfield. I think Markakis was hurt last year but didn’t want to admit it. He played all year, made great plays in the field and didn’t complain. He is making a shit ton of money this year, and has a team option for $17.5 million for next year. No ways in hell the Orioles pick that up so this year is basically it. If he bounces back and plays well this year I expect to see Nick in right field until he retires, if he has a bad year, adios and thanks for your time.
I would love to say that I think Buck, Dan Duquette, and the Orioles knew what they were doing after waiting for so long, but I think that’s a load of crap. They didn’t make any moves earlier and watched some good talent pass right by them. They got lucky with Jimenez, Yoon, and Cruz. With that being said I’m sure the rest of the Orioles fans are glad Peter Angelos finally loosened the purse strings and decided to spend money. These moves show that the team wants to win now and could prove to upcoming free agents (Hardy after 2014, Wieters and Davis after 2015) that they think this team has what it takes. I think you will see the Orioles be competitive all season long and finish with anywhere from 85 to 88 wins. Could be enough to sneak into that second Wild Card spot.