"I am Nick Johnson. I will haunt your dreams."
Last night kicked off the State-side initiation of the 2012 MLB season, as the Cardinals took down the Marlins in their new ballpark, 4-1. The Twins and the Orioles don't open their seasons until tomorrow, but in the meantime I've hooked up with Stacey from Camden Chat to give you a look through the Orioles. Who are they? What can we expect? Have they brought back Cal Ripken, Jr.? (They haven't.)
Thanks to Stacey for her time. For my Twins preview, head on over to Camden Chat! Read her informed preview after the jump.
For the Baltimore Orioles, this year will probably be a lot like last year. Their lineup remains about the same as last season, and while their rotation will be different, it won’t necessarily be much better.
The new additions to the offense come in the form of a Endy Chavez as as the backup outfielder, Wilson Betemit as the DH who can’t hit lefties, and Nick Johnson as the guy who could probably be the best hitter on the team until he gets hurt. Johnson will be a bench player while AAAA Super Star Chris Davis is given a chance at first base.
The O’s cut ties with Luke Scott, Vladimir Guerrero, and Felix Pie in the offseason, although the only one that will possibly be missed is Scott, who was non-tendered after being injured for much of 2011. That finally clears the way for Nolan Reimold to prove if he can be an every day player, and I for one am looking forward to finding out.
The lineup will look like this: C - Matt Wieters, 1B - Chris Davis, 2B - Robert Andino (Brian Roberts is still concussed, we don’t expect him back any time soon), 3B- Mark Reynolds, SS - J.J. Hardy, LF - Nolan Reimold, CF - Adam Jones, RF - Nick Markakis
That’s not a bad lineup. It’s not a great lineup, but they’ll score some runs. The real trouble lies in the starting rotation. Just announced today, the rotation is Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Jason Hammel, Brian Matusz, and Wei-Yin Chen. Notably missing, of course, is former staff veteran
Jeremy Guthrie. He was traded to the Rockies for Hammel and Lindstrom, in a move that made some fans quite unhappy. Guthrie was the most solid member of the rotation and a fan favorite.
The Twins will face Hammel in this series but won’t get to see the other new addition to the O’s rotation, Wei-Yin Chen. Chen was signed out of the Nippon Professional Baseball league to a three-year deal and had a pretty good spring. He’s a control pitcher that will hopefully see his
success in the NPB translate to the MLB.
Jake Arrieta has had his troubles over the past couple years, but his feel-good Spring Training story was that he’s pitching better than ever thanks to surgery to remove a ping pong ball sized bone spur from his elbow in the offseason. He did have an impressive spring, but we’ll have to wait and see if he keeps it up now that the games count.
Tommy Hunter, brought back in a trade last season with the Rangers, is really more suited to be a #4 or #5 starter, but hey, this is the Orioles. He doesn’t strike anyone out but he doesn’t walk many either, and he’s just as likely to give you a solid start as a stinker.
Jason Hammel is a mystery to me. He’s not only new to the Orioles, he’s new to the American League. That could work to his advantage for awhile, and hopefully he’ll pitch less like he did in 2011 and more like he did in 2010, although moving to the AL East isn’t going help him.
In my best-case scenario the Orioles win 81 games this year. I think it’s a stretch to say that, but we’re talking a lineup that produces as well as it has potential to, major bounce backs from Arrieta and Matusz, and solid contributions from Hammel and Chen. I do think they have a chance to take two from the Twins this weekend because, hey, it’s the start of the season and that’s as optimistic as I can be.