Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sweepstakes Over?

Although not officially stated by Manager Dave Trembley, all indications are that the O's rotation is set to go with Jeremy Guthrie, Koji Uehara, Adam Eaton, Alfredo Simon and Mark Hendrickson.

This is not official either, but this rotation will almost certainly be awful.  Nevertheless, there is a reasonable possibility that it will be better than the 2008 version (which was officially awful) of Jeremy Guthrie, Daniel Cabrera, Adam Loewen, Brian Burress and Steve Trachsel.

Jeremy Guthrie (10-12, 3.63 era in '08) is at the top of both rotations.  Despite a horrible spring, I remain hopeful that he'll be as effective as he was in 2008.   I'd like to see Trembley juggle the rotation such that Guthrie faces more 3 & 4 opposing pitchers and fewer 1's and 2's.  Guthrie is a legitimate ML starter, but not a legitimate #1 starter.  Whaddya say, Skip?  Back him up a day here and there because of a "twinge" in his elbow.

Koji Uehara (6-5, 3.81 era in Japan in '08) is slated for the #2 spot.  He's 102-55 with a 2.91 era in his career in Japan.  He had a good enough spring to expect that he'll be an improvement over Daniel Cabrera (8-10, 5.25 era in '08).

Adam Eaton (4-8, 5.80 era in '08) might reasonably be expected to perform no worse than the '08 #3 slot in the rotation of Adam Loewen (0-2, 8.02 era) and his replacement - Garrett Olsen (9-10, 6.65 era).  If Eaton regains his top form, he could even improve on those numbers.

Alfredo Simon was 5-10, 6.43 era in '07 in AAA with Texas.  He only pitched 17 2/3 innings in 2008.  The 2008 #4 slot - Brian Burress - was 7-10 with a 6.04 era.  Simon has pitched "lights out" this spring, allowing 2 Runs in 16 innings.  I have no idea how he did this, but it's won him a spot in the rotation and we'll get to see if can really pitch in the AL.

Mark Hendrickson (7-8, 5.45 era in '08) my have the most difficult challenge when it comes to improving the #5 slot in the rotation.  Steve Trachsel (2-5, 8.39 era), Rhadames Liz (6-6, 6.72 era) and Chris Waters (3-5, 5.01) combined for 11 wins from the #5 slot in 2008 despite giving up boatloads of runs.  I doubt that any O's starter will have 11 wins in 2009.

The strength of the '09 Orioles (if they have one) will be the bullpen and offense.  If the O's bash (which they might) and the starters can go deep enough, regularly enough to keep the bullpen healthy and in their roles, the O's may just improve on their 68 wins in 2008.

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