2010 was a tale of two halves for the Baltimore Orioles, but more specifically, a tale of two coaches (well, three to be specific). After a horrendous start to the season and no signs of improvement, the O’s replaced manager Dave Trembley with Juan Samuel. Samuel didn’t fare much better and was then replaced by Buck Showalter who pulled a complete 180, compiling a 34-23 record under his watch. Where does that leave us for next year? In good shape, but a hard hitting corner infielder would be nice, as would a top tier starter to lead this young rotation. As it looks now, GM Andy MacPhail is looking to make some big moves this off season. So, with our eyes looking ahead to 2011, let’s take one last look at the 2010 season and what we learned this year.
Buck Ball is Back in Baltimore – Seriously, this guy can coach. The O’s finished the year with a 66-96 record, but Buck started when they were 32-73. Showalter guided the O’s to a 34-23 record the rest of the way and gave us fans all hope for next year.
We found out how important Brian Roberts is – At the rate Roberts was getting injured or sick this year, they might have a new wing named after him at Johns Hopkins. B-Rob started the season off with a back injury, then strained an abdominal muscle, then pneumonia, then strained hip, then headaches…. It seemed to never end for Roberts. When healthy, he sets the table for Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and the rest of this Orioles offense. If he’s healthy, Baltimore is in much better shape.
Nick Markakis is just fine – Yes his power numbers were down, but he finished the year with a .297 average and smacked 45 doubles. Yes he only hit 12 home runs and drove in only 60 runs, but with no one ahead of him consistently getting on, Markakis was unable to get in a groove. One stat that I find to be impressive with Markakis is his .330 average from the seventh inning and on. Also, he hit .327 in September and October. Good numbers in the clutch.
Luuuuuuuke – Luke Scott lead the Orioles with 27 home runs on the year and also hit a nifty .284 on the year. Scott remains one of the streakiest players in the history of the world, but when he is on, hop on his shoulders and enjoy the ride!
We need a true first baseman ASAP! – Ty Wigginton was serviceable…for the first half of the year. on the season, Wiggy hit 22 home runs with 76 RBI, but hit .248 on the year and 14 of those home runs came in the first half. Wigginton gives Baltimore great flexibility, but he is a utility man at best and not an every day first or third baseman.
Chris Tillman needs to pitch in AAAA – Tillman is a mystery. In 2010 Tillman posted a record of two and five with an ERA of 5.87. He had a strikeout to walk ratio of 1 to 1 (31 k’s, 31 walks). In AAA, Tillman posted an ERA of 3.61 with an eight and seven record, and had much better control, striking out 69 batters and walking 24. He seems to do well in AAA but then he’s spotty at best in the bigs. If Buck can get him to do AAA things in the MLB, he will be a very nice arm in that rotation.
Matusz was another tale of two halves – Brian Matusz looked like two different pitchers this year. He got off to a hot start but then cooled until August when he started to heat up as the summer wore on. Matusz had a record of three wins and nine losses pre All Star break with an ERA of 4.77, but after the break, he went 7 and 3 with an ERA of 3.63. What was even more impressive was his 2-0 record in September and October with a microscopic ERA of 1.89. If he can keep that going, he can be the ace in the harbor.
The bullpen needs to get cleaned up – With Mike Gonzalez showing less control than Lindsay Lohan at an open bar, someone needed to step up. Jim Johnson tried before he was hurt and then Alfredo Simon came on to do a decent job closing out games, even though every one of them made your heart jump out of your chest. Koji Uehara seemed to be the best option when it was all said and done, but moving forward, the O’s might be better off looking elsewhere.
A winning team means more fans at the games – In 2010, the Orioles averaged a crowd of 21,395 fans per game. That number has been declining every year since 2007. The last time they averaged over 30,000 fans was back in 2005. Hmmmm, what happened that year…oh yea, they were a competitive team in a tough AL East. They finished that year with a 74-88 record. The year before they went 78-84 and averaged over 33,000 fans per game. If you build a winning team, they will come.