AL East MLB MLB Team News — 14 February 2011
The Orioles are quickly becoming a popular breakout pick this year and with good reason. They greatly improved their lineup in the offseason adding numerous bats such as Mark Reynolds, Vladimir Guerrero, JJ Hardy, and Derek Lee. While some of those names aren’t the elite talent they once were, they are a significant upgrade at their respective positions and add to pretty decent nucleus of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Luke Scott, and Matt Wieters.

At the top of their rotation Jeremy Guthrie is capable of being a solid starter when he is on his game and Brian Matusz showed glimpses of a promising career to come down the stretch of last season. Jake Arrieta is a serviceable 3rd starter and if Brad Bergesen and Justin Duchscherer can pitch at their pre-injury levels, the Orioles staff could actually be a lot better than it looks at first glimpse. The bullpen is no shut-down staff, however, the combination of Mike Gonzalez and Kevin Gregg should be enough to get them by.

Perhaps their greatest sign of hope, however, was the addition of manager Buck Showalter, who came in and led the team to a winning record in his time with the team last year. If he can continue to guide this team in the right direction, a major improvement on recent years’ records is not out of the question. However, while the Orioles should be improved, let’s not forget they play in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, where even a level of improvement like the one they had over the winter may not prove to be enough to get them out of the bottom half of the division.

Key Additions: Derek Lee, Mark Reynolds, JJ Hardy, Vladimir Guerrero, Kevin Gregg, Justin Duchscherer

Key Losses: Kevin Millwood, Ty Wiggington

Lineup:

C: Matt Wieters
1B: Derek Lee
2B: Brian Roberts
3B: Mark Reynolds
SS: JJ Hardy
LF: Luke Scott
CF: Adam Jones
RF: Nick Markakis
DH: Vladimir Guerrero

Rotation:

1: Jeremy Guthrie
2: Brian Matusz
3: Jake Arrieta
4: Brad Bergesen
5: Justin Duchscherer
CL: Kevin Gregg

Critical Players to Success:

Brian Matusz: Matusz was impressive down the stretch after being mediocre for the most part of 2010. If he can continue to be the pitcher we saw towards the end of last year, the Orioles will have a formidable 1-2 punch in him and Jeremy Guthrie.

Mark Reynolds: The Orioles acquired Reynolds to be the big bat in the middle of their lineup and will need him to cut down on his strikeouts and drive in baserunners if they hope to be successful in the East this year.

Brian Roberts: Roberts was injured for most of last year, but is now back healthy and could be a huge asset to the Orioles in 2011 if he can return to his pre-injury level of play.

Check out the other 2011 MLB Team Previews.

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