Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A week to remember

Well, it’s finally happened.

The Orioles announced yesterday that super-prospect Matt Wieters will be called up to start Friday, meaning the 2009 Orioles season has officially begun.

I said all along that we really couldn’t measure the 2009 Orioles until Wieters had arrived, and in addition to Wieters, the Orioles have called up 3 rookie pitchers (Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken and David Hernandez) to make their MLB debuts since opening day. They've also replaced a slumping Felix Pie with a red-hot Nolan Reimold.

It’s a much different team now. A much better team.

I’d say it’s safe to start measuring.

Bergesen and Berken both collected wins in their MLB debuts. Reimold has 3 HR already. 29-year-old Rich Hill was activated from the DL and has pitched well in his first 2 starts. So it’s no surprise that the Orioles have won 4 out of their last 5 after being swept by the Yankees in New York.

But the biggest factor going forward is Wieters. He’s the one we’ve all been waiting for. All of the sudden the Orioles line-up is stacked from top to bottom. And by replacing Greg Zaun as the starting catcher, the Orioles finally have a chance to throw out opposing base-stealers (Zaun was only 8 for 25 in that department).

So it’s been a big week with Berken, Hernandez and now Wieters all having been called up and the Orioles having won 2 series in a row.

The future is now. It’s finally arrived.

But it gets even better. The Big 3 (Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz) are still waiting in the wings and all pitching well. Troy Patton, back from Tommy John surgery, has been dominating AA Bowie and is probably the next in line for a call-up. So the best is yet to come, at least in the pitching department.

And at 20-26, the Orioles don’t appear to be as bad as they looked a week ago. No more Adam Eaton. Mark Hendrickson is buried in the bullpen where he belongs and either (the slumping) Chris Ray will be optioned to Norfolk or (the finished) Jamie Walker will be released to make room for Hernandez tomorrow.

So the team continues to get better and better.

And the 2009 season continues to get more and more interesting.

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