In This Corner: O’s offseason has been one of real upgrading
If you think that the 2011 Baltimore Orioles are going to be the absolutely dreadful-to-watch team that this area has come to know, you’re wrong.
Friday capped off an extremely active offseason for the Birds, as they signed future Hall-of-Famer and perennial All-Star Vladimir Guerrero to a one-year, $8 million deal.
When the offseason started, president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail had a laundry list of needs that the team desperately needed to address, despite their success at the end of last season under new manager Buck Showalter.
The team had glaring vacancies at all infield positions (minus second base, which is occupied by All-Star Brian Roberts) and a bullpen that was the Achilles’ heel of the team’s young pitching staff throughout last season that sorely needed addressing.
The first move that MacPhail and the Orioles made was the acquisition of power-hitting third baseman Mark Reynolds from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Reynolds has been near the top of the National League in home runs over the last three years. However, he has been known to be a liability at the plate, as he holds the top three spots in the Major League Baseball record books for single-season strikeouts.
Regardless of his lack of contact ability, Reynolds is projected to have a cushy spot in the batting order and has unlimited potential in a hitter’s park such as Camden Yards.
After the acquisition of Reynolds, MacPhail and the Orioles’ front office were met with adversity, as they swung and missed at free agent first basemen Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko (who both went on to sign with the Chicago White Sox).
The next logical available player was veteran Derrek Lee. At 35 years old, Lee was not the multi-year occupant at first base that the O’s were originally looking for, but ended up being a perfect one-year stop-gap.
Lee brings veteran leadership and the potential to be a big run producer for a discounted price. In 2010, Lee battled a thumb injury that plagued him throughout the season, and his stats dropped considerably from years’ prior.
Between these moves and the additions of shortstop J.J. Hardy, closer Kevin Gregg, and starter Justin Duchscherer, the Orioles began receiving league-wide acclaim for their performance this offseason as a small-market team with a losing atmosphere.
But they weren’t done yet.
By the end of January, all American League teams searching for designated hitters had found their men, which left Guerrero without a team. The only logical team left with room for him was the Orioles.
Going into 2011, the team is already being praised as one of the best hitting teams on paper. The additions of Lee, Guerrero and Reynolds give more security and balance to the lineup, as well as taking the burden off returning players such as Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters and Adam Jones.
This will not be the Orioles this area has come to avoid. This team has the potential to re-invigorate one of the best baseball cities in America. Camden Yards will be a fun place to be this spring and summer.
It’s time to bring out your black and orange, because the time is now for the Orioles to win back their fans.