Any “surprises” to make the 25 man roster?
As Spring Training has wound down, the picture has certainly become clearer. Based on what the general consensus was going into Spring Training, right now I think the surprises could be Evan Meek, Alex Gonzalez and Jonathan Schoop. Meek and Gonzalez would definitely be the most surprising as they are both non-roster invitees. Meek has had a fantastic spring and having been an All-Star for Pittsburgh in 2010, the talent is there. I think he has a shot to be one of the last guys in the bullpen. Gonzalez has performed exceptionally well and has remained healthy. I guessed early-on that Alexi Casilla would essentially take that utility role, however with his injury I think Gonzalez has turned into the favorite. Schoop could see time early on because of the Manny Machado injury. Jemile Weeks will likely fulfill that spot until Manny returns. Lastly, Kelvin De La Cruz almost made the pen if Buck wanted another lefty, but with Matusz and Britton likely locks at this point it was not necessary. – Alex
If the Orioles go with a rotation of Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei Yin Chen, and Bud Norris, will Suk Min Yoon pitch in Norfolk’s rotation or Baltimore’s bullpen?
The rotation is seemingly locked as Tillman, Jimenez, Chen, Gonzalez and most likely Norris as the five. Gausman is probably starting at AAA-Norfolk. Yoon has already been optioned to AAA-Norfolk and I would imagine that he will start there. It is easier to build up innings in the rotation rather than bullpen, so the Orioles can always switch him to the bullpen if they do call him up. – Tucker
Have you seen much of Yoon as yet? I saw the inning he pitched against the Yankees AAAA team, didn’t appear too impressive. Any thoughts?
I have seen Yoon twice now on television. It is really hard to scout or evaluate a player from a television, but here are my general thoughts. Yoon was hovering around 89-90 mph with his fastball. He can command it well, but there is not much movement on it and the plane in which it comes from is not terrific. He will need to keep his fastball located well. He reminds me of Wei-Yin Chen in a sense that when he did not get the one pitch inside enough against a righty, that it was hit for a HR. He also showed a slider that was around 85 mph, with a slight tilt but nothing overly impressive. Lastly, he has a get-me-over curveball that sits around 75 mph. Nothing flashy here, but it looks to be a pitch that he can change the pace with. Overall, Yoon really looked like a bullpen arm to me, possibly a middle reliever. That was my first impression. – Tucker
Nate McLouth was our only real steal threat last year, and even then, only in the first half. We have a potent offense and would not want to run ourselves out of an inning, but small ball and steals are something that Buck doesn’t seem to like doing, even when it seems to make sense. What do you expect with swiping bags and playing small ball this year?
“Small ball” is definitely not going to a big part of the Orioles offense. The team is geared toward power. David Lough is probably the most talented base stealer on the team and his speed could wreak havoc on the bases. However, stealing bases is a high stakes gamble. That extra base is not worth as much as an out. Essentially, stealing bases is only worthwhile if the success rate is about 75%. Below that threshold, stealing bases is detrimental to run scoring. Therefore, I do not really care whether or not the Orioles steal bases. Bunting, the hit and run, and other small ball tools are simply more ways to make more outs and score fewer runs. If the Orioles want to improve their run scoring from last year, they need more people to get on base at higher rates so more of the homeruns they hit are multi-run homeruns rather the solo shots. – Alex
A few years ago the Orioles had one of the worst records on Sundays. Recently, with a horribly weak DH, a standard off day for Wieters, and it being a day often given to regulars as an off day, what do you expect Buck to do to counteract this? A few more wins on Sundays could mean the difference in making the playoffs or not.
I think this primarily has to do with roster depth. In 2010, the Orioles did not have as talented of a roster as they have had since 2012. In return, Sundays usually are when some of the veterans receive a rest day, such as Matt Wieters. When you lack depth, your record on Sunday is probably going to suffer. I think the Orioles have already improved their depth and the Sunday wins will increase due to that. – Tucker
What would Nick Markakis have to do this season to have his option picked up and what do you think the chances of him having that good of a season are?
Markakis currently has the highest salary on the team and would likely have the highest salary on the team next year if he had his option picked up for 2015. He is due $17.5 million next year if his option is picked up, with a $2 million buyout. That would effectively be 15-20% of team payroll for a guy who honestly has declined over the years. After years of decline, I do not believe one great year in a contract year would be worth picking up that massive option. It would be hard to decline an option if he put up the mythical .300/.400/.500 season. However, I think the payroll flexibility that would come from freeing up that money would be more worthwhile. It is possible an extension could be worked out, but I do not see many scenarios in which it makes sense to pick up the $17.5 million option. – Alex
Why has Edgmer Escalona only pitched in one spring training game? I would think he is a prime candidate for a bullpen spot.
Escalona was injured early on in Spring Training with inflammation in his right shoulder and has not seen the field since. He was certainly a prime candidate to fill out one of the final bullpen spots, but it sure seems as if he will start the season on the disabled list. This allows the Orioles to keep him within the organization and they can activate him to the roster when he is healthy to fill a spot if the need arises. – Tucker