Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Orioles Mid-Season Review

Well, we're at that time. The second half of the season is about to begin now that the All-Star game has come and gone (by the way, many congrats to Adam Jones for his go-ahead sac fly in the 8th inning), so before we move onward let's take a look back.

The first half of the season for the Orioles was marked by a confusing blend of stellar comebacks and inexplicable collapses, of youthful surprises and disappointments. Without a doubt the high point of the season thus far has to be the miraculous comeback against the Boston Red Sox, and the low point-- well, there are a few too many options for that one. Regardless, let's take a look at some of my team awards for the first half (and we'll throw in Expatriate and Falco's opinions for the heck of it).

MVP: Brad Bergesen (unanimous) - Without Brad Bergesen, this pitching rotation would have absolutely no stability. Bergesen didn't even start the season in the rotation, and despite the fact that his raw 'stuff' isn't dominant, he has the poise and guile of a veteran when he's on the mound. Unlike other rookies, Brad Bergesen knows how to make adjustments and because of that he's been able to rebound strongly from an early shaky stretch to become more and more dominant as the season's progressed. I thought last year that folks were underestimating Brad Bergesen when I wrote up my Prospect Report on him, but even I didn't see this coming.

LVP: Adam Eaton (Expatriate: Jeremy Guthrie, Falco: Rich Hill) - I don't see how this could be anyone but Adam Eaton. Adam Eaton only had one start that could be qualified as anything better than mediocre. Adam Eaton consistently put the Orioles in early deficits, destroyed the bullpen, and helped cement the Orioles position in last place very early on. Adam Eaton contributed nothing positive to this team, and so he was unequivocally the least valuable.

Rookie of the Year: Brad Bergesen (unanimous) - See above analysis on Brad Bergesen, nothing more needs to be said. Though I do give a quick shout to Nolan Reimold, who in almost any other year would be the deserving ROY for this team.

Gold Glover: Nick Markakis (Expatriate: Adam Jones, Falco: Nick Markakis) - While Nick Markakis doesn't always have the highlight reel catches, there is no greater model of consistency in right field that I can think of. Markakis very rarely takes bad routes to the ball as he reads them exceptionally well off the bat. Add onto that his ability to gun down runners (always at or near the top of MLB in assists), and he's the deserving gold glover. Not that he'll ever win one, because after all he's an Oriole. A quick mention though, that Robert Andino's play at short really has been fun to watch. I've been exceptionally impressed with his defense, though the award still easily goes to Markakis over Andino.

Most Surprising Player: Nolan Reimold (Expatriate: Oscar Salazar, Falco: Nolan Reimold) - Last year I did a Prospect Report on Nolan Reimold and I had the opportunity to watch him several times in person. His advancement from last year to this year has been one of the most astonishing transformations I've seen. His plate discipline has been exemplary, and while he's been slumping as of late, his ability to make adjustments is much improved. Nolan Reimold has come out and taken hold of the left field job, something that was doubtful at the start of the year. He's an emerging contender for ROY.

Most Disappointing Player: Jeremy Guthrie (unanimous) - Jeremy Guthrie was supposed to be, and needs to be, the ace on this team. He filled that role exceptionally well last year and his consistency indicated that he would do the same. Well, Guthrie is still scuffling along and it's still up in the air as to whether he'll get it back. He's been burned on some good pitches and he still has good stuff; we'll see how it plays out in the second half, but no doubt this is the one rotation struggle that O's fans didn't see coming.

Big Second Half: Nick Markakis (Falco and Expatriate: Aubrey Huff) - I'm bucking the trend of my colleagues here, but I have a strong feeling that Markakis will take off in the late summer, just as he has the past two years. Huff is a good bet, as he is a strong second half player. But just call it a hunch.

Drop Off in the Second Half: Luke Scott (Expatriate: Brad Bergesen, Falco: Luke Scott) - I love Luke Scott, but he is traditionally very streaky and I doubt that he can keep up this unreal pace. I understand the doubts about Brad Bergesen, but his ability to make adjustments and his positive momentum tells me he won't fall off all that much.

Grade for Dave Trembley: B (Expatriate: B-, Falco: B+) -He's kept this team together and he's managed the lineup as well as can be expected. His handling of young pitchers has also been superb, as shown by their successes this year. The only drawback is the continuing baserunning blunders which really comes back to the manager's responsibility.

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