In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. Previous installments can be found here. Today, I talk about the Orioles.
Keith Olbermann put it best when he described the 2014 Baltimore Orioles as being like Wile E. Coyote running off a cartoon cliff. Despite not having Manny Machado, Matt Wieters or Chris Davis, the Orioles were able to keep running on air for awhile until finally, in the ALCS, they realized they were over the cliff and then plummeted to their doom.
And, after a fairly quiet off-season that saw some major losses (Nick Markakis- although how big of a loss that is is up to some debate- and Andrew Miller) and no major additions. In fact, the biggest story of the offseason for the Orioles was likely the fact that GM Dan Duquette might leave to take a higher position with the Blue Jays. He didn’t, at least, not yet.
So, the most important thing for the defending AL East champion (!) Orioles will be how the players returning from injury/suspension will do. Manny Machado and Matt Wieters from injury, of course, and Chris Davis is returning from a PED suspension. To be sure, they could do great and the Orioles could still miss the playoffs, but it feels unlikely that the Orioles can make the playoffs if they don’t produce.
Of the three, the most important one, at least for the long-term hopes of the Orioles, is Manny Machado. Still just 22, he is the one who will be an Oriole for most of the foreseeable future, while Wieters (28 and with just one more year on his contract) and Davis (also 28, and also in the last year of his contract) could soon be on their way out. Machado has seen two straight seasons end in injury- the last thing the Orioles need is their young super-star becoming an injury-prone mess.
Because Adam Jones cannot be expected to be a one-man show, and the starting pitcher remains a bit suspect, at least on gut reaction when you look at it.
Although, on the other hand, Buck Showalter is involved, so it’s entirely possible everything goes wrong for the Orioles this season and they still make the playoffs.