Hello RotoBallers and welcome to the first installment of the RotoBaller Orioles blog, your home for Baltimore Orioles’ fantasy analysis. This entry addresses the Orioles’ offseason, and what it means for your 2014 fantasy season.
2014 Baltimore Orioles - Team Preview
The Orioles’ philosophy seems to have a couple of components which are useful to know for fantasy purposes. First, Dan Duquette, the Orioles general manager, preaches “deep depth.” As a result, he signs a number of players cheaply and plays the numbers game – some will turn out to help the major league team. What it means for fantasy purposes, however, is that more so than other teams, it is unclear who will man certain positions, and even whether there will be an everyday player or a platoon at the position. That is especially apparent at LF, DH, 2B, and SP this year.
Additionally, the Orioles recently tend to let the market play out and sign players late in the offseason. That means that the Orioles offseason may not be complete just yet. The Orioles still have holes at DH, SP, and closer. While it appears that they may stand pat except for possibly adding a fifth starter, this analysis could very well change with a late offseason signing or trade.
With this context in mind, below is the Orioles offseason review. New acquisitions are bolded. (Departures are noted in parentheses). Possible acquisitions are noted in italics. Injuries are highlighted.
2014 Orioles Preview - Known Positions
C – Matt Wieters
1B – Chris Davis
SS – J.J. Hardy
RF – Nick Markakis
CF – Adam Jones
2014 Orioles Preview - Unknown Positions
Analysis: Ryan Flaherty is the favorite to win the position, although a platoon with Jemile Weeks is very possible. Many, however, expect Flaherty to win the job and Casilla to be a backup and utility infielder.
Analysis: Manny Machado is expected to be ready for opening day, but there is a realistic possibility that he is not. If he is not, Michael Almanzar could play third base. Given that the Orioles place a high value on defense, it may be more likely that Ryan Flaherty would move to third base until he returned.
Analysis: David Lough should receive the most playing time, although it is unclear whether he is set to be the everyday left fielder or only play versus RHP. Dan Duquette has said that he is going to replace Nate McLouth, who the Orioles preferred to platoon. However, Nate McLouth had much more exaggerated splits. A lot may depend on who else the Orioles keep in the outfield.
DH – Possible Acquisition, Henry Urrutia, Steve Pearce, Nolan Reimold, Delmon Young, Michael Almanzar, (Danny Valencia)
Analysis: Buck Showalter likes to have flexibility at the DH position, and last year the Orioles tried a platoon. It appears that they may do so again. The right hand DH position is wide open, but if Nolan Reimold is healthy he would likely be the favorite. Second would likely be Delmon Young. If Henry Urrutia makes the team, he will likely be the LH DH although it may be better for his development to the learn the outfield in AAA.
2014 Orioles Preview - Pitching
Analysis: Kevin Gausman has the most talent, but he also has options. With the Orioles having a number of LHP, some of whom do not have options (most importantly Britton), it is likely that one makes the rotation or is traded before or when Troy Patton returns from his 25 game suspension. Thus, Zach Britton may be the favorite unless he struggles in Spring Training, despite Kevin Gausman’s skill advantage. There have also been rumors that Bud Norris could be moved to closer, which could happen if the Orioles sign another starter and Norris struggles.
Analysis: The Orioles traded Jim Johnson and almost signed Grant Balfour. Apparently they are attempting to sign Fernando Rodney and still interested in bringing back Francisco Rodriguez, although interest in the former seems to have faded and interest in the latter seems to be more as a setup man. If they do not sign anyone, Tommy Hunter is the favorite to be the closer (although his splits are exaggerated and he is prone to the home run). Darren O’Day is likely too valuable in his current role to be moved. Another possibility is that the Orioles move Bud Norris to closer, but that is a longshot.
The next two editions will feature a detailed breakdown of the Orioles’ lineup and pitching staff. Stay tuned and add @rotonails on Twitter for updates….