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2009 AL Preview: Baltimore Orioles

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Team Name: Baltimore Orioles

2008 W-L Record: 68-93

Place in division: 5th

2009 Projected Lineup

Player

Pos.

G. Zaun/M. Wieters

C

Aubrey Huff

1B

Brian Roberts

2B

Cesar Izturis

SS

Melvin Mora

3B

Felix Pie

LF

Adam Jones

CF

Nick Markakis

RF

Luke Scott

DH

Key Bench Players

Player

Pos.

Ty Wigginton

IF

Ryan Freel

UTL

Lou Montanez

OF

2009 Projected Rotation

Player

Pos.

Jeremy Guthrie

SP1

Koji Uehara

SP2

Mark Hendrickson

SP3

Rich Hill

SP4

R. Liz/C.Waters

SP5

Key Relievers

Player

Pos.

George Sherrill

Closer

Chris Ray

Setup

Jim Johnson

Setup

Jamie Walker

Specialist

2009 Outlook: With Red Sox, Yankees and the rise of the Rays in the AL East, the Orioles and the Blue Jays are almost forgotten teams. For the Orioles this is partly their own fault. The O's have not made the playoffs since Davey Johnson was the manager in 1997. They've finished in third place once, and would have been cellar dwellers nine times if it weren't for the "Devil Rays." In 2008 they finished last place in their division for the first time since 1988. The outlook for 2009 isn't that much better, but the team should be better.

On paper, the Orioles lineup is much improved. The Aubrey Huff/Ty Wigginton/Luke Scott platoon at 1B/DH is an upgrade over the Huff/Millar platoon. Brian Roberts, one of the second basemen in the league, will actually have a middle infield partner this year in Cesar Izturis instead of a Juan Castro/Alex Cintron/Freddie Bynum/Brandon Fahey/Luis Hernandez platoon (What were they thinking?). At catcher, Greg Zaun will keep the seat warm before all world prospect, Matt Wieters takes over and dominates for the next decade or so.

The O's will have one of the best defensive Outfields in the game, but probably second best in the division behind the Rays. Nick Markakis is already a stud and locked up for six years at least. Adam Jones is still developing, but still had an OPS over .700 in his first full year. Recently, they added former top prospect, Felix Pie, who at age 24 still has time to live up to the hype.

The problem for this Orioles team will be pitching and that is a big problem. They finished 2008 dead last in team FIP at 5.14. They will go into 2009 with one proven starter and....well one proven starter. Behind Guthrie will be a mix matched group that consists of a Japanese Import, another failed former Cubs top prospect, a former NBA power forward, and a few other young arms that haven't proved much in the majors. Their system has some good arms in it like Tillman, Matusz and Arrieta, but only Tillman has pitched above class A and Matusz didn't throw a professional pitch in 08. In the bullpen, Jim Johnson was the only reliever with an FIP under 4(3.38) and over 50 innings. They will get back Chris Ray and Danys Baez, but each are huge question marks coming off major surgeries.

The O's will be better in 2009, but given the fact that they play in baseball's best division, I'd say that they are looking at another fifth place finish.