How The Opposition Views The Orioles – Blue Jays

The FanBall network is full of good bloggers, and one of the interesting things we thought we could do is have each blogger of one of the teams in the AL East answer a few questions about each other team. So I sent out my list of 9 queries about the Orioles, and I’ll be posting the various responses in a five part series (with the thoughts of another O’s fan at the end).

First up is Paul Bruno from Jays Fan, the Toronto Blue Jays blog.

(I’ve included any additional comments I may have had in italics.)

(1) How good is Matt Wieters? (Can you put it in the form of a Matt Wieters Fact?)

Matt Wieters is Chuck Norris’ illegitimate son.

(2) How good you you think Matt Wieters will really be?

He has a chance to put up power numbers and hit for average and is blessed with size, reminding me of Joe Mauer.

Comment: I’ll take a Joe Mauer-lite.

(3) After a somewhat down 2009, how well do you think Nick Markakis will bounce back and at what level do you think he’ll produce in the coming years?

Markakis is a potential five-tool guy, who has suffered in a fairly weak Orioles’ batting order. Teams have been able to pitch around or wait for him to press too hard. The presence of a couple of other highly regarded bats in this lineup will take some pressure away from him.

(4) Which young Orioles position player do you like most? (If Wieters/Markakis, who’s #2?)

People have been waiting for Wieters to arrive, like few other prospects in recent years. Given that catcher is not a deep position across the Majors, his presence gives the Orioles an advantage over most other opponents, at that position in the AL .

Comment: I often got in trouble in school for missing a part of a question. (I kid!)

(5) Which young Orioles starter do you like most?

I like Jeremy Guthrie, almost by default, out of the options here and even he is no great option, if he resembles the 2009 version. If he reverts to his form of 2007 and 2008, when his ERA hovered in the 3.60-3.70 range, that would easily vault him to the head of this class. Last year he was hurt by the fact that 10 of his 33 starts were against Boston and NewYork, as much as a spike in home runs allowed, as he surrendered a career-high 35 dingers last year.

Comment: I find it somewhat amusing that he included Guthrie with the young starters. When Jeremy was Chris Tillman’s age, Tillman was still in middle school.

(6) What are your thoughts on the Orioles’ off-season, including their acquisitions (Millwood, Atkins, Tejada, Gonzalez) and any moves they should have made but didn’t?

They have potentially upgraded their offense but I am not excited by the addition of Millwood and that starting rotation looks very weak and will get hammered often.

Comment: You’d be drinking too if you had to face the Yankees and Red Sox line-ups 38 times.

(7) Are the Orioles going to get out of the cellar this year, and how good of a chance do they have of breaking their streak of losing seasons?

They will battle the Jays for fourth place again, but I believe that the Jays have a better club and a decided edge in terms of pitching depth that will keep the Orioles at the bottom of the heap.

Comment: Them’s fightin’ words!

(8) Do the Orioles scare you for 2011? 2012?

They need to fill in a few more holes on offence as well as developing some depth on the pitching staff. They won’t scare anyone in the foreseeable future unless Markakis reverts to his early form, Wieters lives up to he hype and Atkins, Tejada and Gonzalez all approach career-best numbers.

Comment: If Atkins and Tejada – and to a lesser degree, Gonazlez – have any effect on the O’s chances in 2011 and 2012, then there’s a pretty good chance that the team won’t, in fact, be scaring anyone… from the opposing side, anyway.

(9) More generally; does something need to be done with division restructuring, given that (for example) there’s a fair chance that the 3rd best team in baseball will miss the playoffs in 2010?

As a fellow supporter of the perennial second tier of the AL East, Toronto and Baltimore share the same outlook on Opening Day in 2010, as they have for several years. That is, neither team has a realistic hope of contending beyond August 1, if they are able to hang in even that long. This two tier situation, that exists throughout the majors, is screaming for a salary-cap-type solution.

Thanks very much to Paul for participating (despite my snarky comments). As he said, the O’s and the Jays are likely to be fighting it out for 4th place this upcoming season – we’ll see who finishes on top.