Thursday, April 10, 2008

Surprise! (Or, the Orioles Still Suck)

The good news: the Orioles are in 1st place in the AL East.

The bad news: It's only a couple weeks into the season.

They've had a good two weeks or so. Great for them and I'm happy for their fan base. But this isn't going to last and here's why:

1) They've played the Rays, Mariners, and Rangers. The Rays, while improved, still don't have great pitching at the major league level. In the Mariners series, the O's beat up on Washburn, Batista, and then rallied against the Putz-less Mariner's bullpen. Then, in their one game against the Rangers (the one yesterday was postponed), they smushed Jennings. Notice a trend? They haven't faced really good pitching yet. And when they do, their offense will be exposed as shallow.

2) Lack of pitching depth. I like Jeremy Guthrie a lot, probably more than most, but other than Adam Loewen, there's not much there. Daniel Cabrera, he of the million dollar arm and one cent head, can't figure it out and probably never will. Steve Trachsel, he of the one cent arm and five dollar head, has passed his expiration date. And don't expect Brian Burres to keep that shiny sub-2.00 ERA for long. And no offense to Sherrill, who is a fine set-up guy, but that bullpen isn't going to stay good for long, especially once that starting pitching regresses to mean.

3) They're in the AL East. While rebuilding teams can avoid turning into road kill in some divisions (cough NL Central cough), there are three legitimate playoff teams and one rising star in the AL East. The Yankees and Red Sox have some pitching depth issues but their offenses are going to turn it on soon. The Blue Jays, if healthy, have deep pitching especially if B.J. Ryan comes back soon and recovers quickly. The Rays have been able to hit for a while and their bullpen is improved over the debacle last year. That's some stiff competition and the O's are going to face very good teams for a large chunk of their schedule.

That, all together, is a recipe for a long season. It's great they've gotten out of the gate quickly, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. The longer the season goes on, the more their flaws are going to be exposed. I predicted a last place finish for the Orioles this year and I see no reason to change that now.

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