Friday, May 29, 2009

A Good Time to be an O's Fan

Oh boy, the air is electric in Baltimore today. I would like to echo the sentiments of Baltimore Sun writer Peter Schmuck in wishing all a Happy Wieters Day, as all of us can look forward to his arrival tonight against the Detroit Tigers. Not only this but the Orioles have won four in a row (six of their last seven), recent call-up Nolan Reimold has taken a hold of the left field job, and young pitchers like Jason Berken and David Hernandez have held their own in their first major league starts.

The recurring theme in all of these pieces of good news is youth. The exemplary play of the Orioles rookies this season -- all of whom came up through this system -- has been the biggest reason to hope and the biggest reason the Orioles have gone on their recent tear. Not too long ago, Nolan Reimold was a forgotten prospect; he had been hampered by injuries and seemed to be losing the window to make it to the bigs as a full-time player. Fast forward to this season, and Reimold was not only able to reaffirm prospect status but has solidified the every day left field position with the O's. Reimold's swing looks far better than it looked in Bowie last year, as he still has the raw power but has improved his plate coverage considerably. The last key for him was in making adjustments, and he seems to be doing just that.

The young pitchers have to give O's fans a ton of hope, as Bergesen, Berken, and Hernandez have all won their major league debuts and all have shown the flashes of ability that they could stick for awhile here. And the best news with these three is that they aren't close to the best that the organization has to offer when it comes to pitching talent. The big guns are still on the way in Tillman, Arrieta, Matusz, Patton, et al. David Hernandez is the most intriguing of the pitchers in the majors right now, because there is significant conversation over whether or not he'll be a starter in the long term. Based on his debut, I believe there is some more credence to the idea that he could be a starter, because his changeup was used very effectively and he flashed the curveball. If he can regularly throw all four pitches (fastball, slider, change, curve) for strikes and go 100+ pitches as he did yesterday, I don't see why he can't make it as a starter with the adjustments he's made. Brad Bergesen was the earliest of these to come up, but he's fallen on a rough patch and looks to reassert himself tonight.

Bergesen will be throwing to his Bowie battery-mate Matt Wieters tonight, which is easily the biggest point of excitement for O's fans today. It's hard to argue with all of this excitement, because there have been so few reasons for Orioles fans to be happy recently, and Matt has been touted universally by baseball people to be the real deal. I'll be fascinated to see just how he handles the pressure; it's alot to ask a kid to be the savior of a franchise, and one has to hope that it doesn't cause him to press too much at the plate or behind it.

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