Monday, January 18, 2010

Spotlight Is Back on Orioles

With the Ravens having been eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend, the attention of most fans will no doubt turn back to the Orioles as the offseason winds down and we start hearing the words "pitchers and catchers report" over the next few weeks.

It's a shame there isn't much to pay attention to. The Orioles offseason moves have been limited thus far, and it's unknown whether the O's will add any more players before spring training begins.

We all know that 2010 hangs on the group of talented young players already on the roster, and that alone is reason enough to be excited. But fans are demanding more be done to improve this team, which lost 98 games a year ago.

And they are right.

Garrett Atkins lost his job as the Rockies 3B last year, hitting .226 and 9 home runs after 3 seasons in which he'd hit more than 20 HR and batted above .286.

Kevin Millwood finished 2009 with a very respectable ERA of 3.67, but in the 2 seasons prior to '09, his ERA was over 5.

And Michael Gonzalez, who will be the closer, looks to be no better than George Sherrill, who was traded last season.

And now that the Ravens' season is over, now is the time for Andy MacPhail to get O's fans excited. Sure, there isn't one move that is going to send fans racing to the ticket counter, but there are any number of signings and trades that could make fans anticipate the season more than they are now.

Last time I checked, the Orioles could still use another starting pitcher, a first baseman, and a left-handed reliever.

Going internally to fill those positions is fine, especially for a rebuilding team like the Orioles, just don't be surprised when the second home game of the season draws 12,000 fans.

And that is why the Orioles are in a tricky position. There is real reason for hope and improvement in 2010. But most fans will not buy that until it shows up in the standings. In the meantime, the only thing that will appease fans is flashy offseason movement.

Is that the right thing for the Orioles to do? Listen to fans and make the moves they want to be made? It's a little too late for that. Matt Holliday and John Lackey have been off the boards for a while.

So maybe it is best for the O's to stick with what they have.

But it's boring, and even lazy.

After 12 years of losing seasons, would you expect O's fans to say anything else?

Ironically, Orioles Fan Fest is this Saturday. When is the last time you even thought about going?

My point exactly.

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