Attitude O's Halfway Home

At the proverbial halfway point of the season, those of us who follow the black and orange have learned a lot about the make up of this team so far. Regardless of how close you feel this team is to being a legitimate playoff threat, they've obviously shown an improvement in attitude and excitement, and is just plain more fun to watch than the teams over the last few years wearing the same uniform.

But now coming into the next month or so that's left of the season before they go on strike, I can confidently say I've learned a lot more about this team then just that they are fun to watch.  Unfortunately, every answer leaves us with another question.  But taking a look back at the season thus far, I've learned...

·        While I certainly have a hard time looking past the fact that, I think, the Orioles are overachieving, I was reminded by Hargrove that it's not always bad to have a team full of guys playing beyond their realistic expectations.  Looking over the roster, there are as many guys not pulling their weight as there are guys who might be pulling too much.  Considering how badly the teams before them underachieved, I'll take this any day.  Who can we realistically expect to keep playing better than they ever indicated they could before?  Matthews?  Lopez?  Driskill?  Gil?  Your guess is as good as mine.

·        Marty Cordova's best position is without a doubt on the disabled list.  I will not argue this point.

·        Syd Thrift has one of the best eye's for unproven talent out there.  However he has shown nothing in terms of bringing a legitimate respected threat here to help lead this talent.  I'm leery of some of the contracts he's given guys who are role players on good teams, guys like Conine, Groom, and especially Marty "rally killer" Cordova are locked in deals that make it hard for us to trade.  If Syd thinks these are guys who are going to be part of our next playoff team, well then it would be better to see him replaced.

·        Unfortunately, we're no closer to knowing who our shortstop and second baseman are for next year.  Brian Roberts has had two chances to unseat Jerry Hairston and has been unable to do so both times.  One of them isn't long for Baltimore, but which one?  As for short, Mike Bordick's deal is up after this year and I quiver at the thought of bringing him back when he's obviously washed up.  A sleeper pick would be Ed Rogers, who, could easily hit what Bordick is hitting in the big leagues.  The difference is his fielding, which would be far and away better than the biggest overachiever in the history of baseball (that's a compliment btw).  And despite his three extra birthdays from the offseason, he is still young.

·        The Orioles are proving you can never, ever have enough pitching.  The Cardinals, thought to have a surplus of starters, are a perfect example.  So too, are the Orioles, who banking on young pitching to get them over the top in the future, have seen how arm injuries and bad luck can turn up at most inopportune times.  Having good young pitching is easily the best way to get back into contention, but to expect that young pitching to deliver before they ever do is a risky proposition.  They say that if you have 10 good minor league arms, you can expect two of them to be productive major leaguers.  Just remember, Forney, Klingenbeck, Eshelman, Sackinsky, and Haynes from the mid 90's.

·        Lastly, I believe the core of this team is solid.  There are some guys who might be able to be part of Oriole teams that see the good side of .500 again.  But this team is still a long way away.  Before they're even considered a playoff team they need a legitimate shortstop, another power hitter, and a front of the rotation starter.  We all know who the closer is, and while not preferable, we've seen it's possible to get by with Melvin Mora hitting leadoff.  They are almost there personnel wise, though it's usually better to have the main stars on the team first so you can look for the right complimentary players afterwards, instead of vice-versa like the Orioles have done.  There are certainly opportunities to improve themselves, but will Syd really do it?  I'm not sure how confident I am in that happening.  A good start for him though would be to trade, trade, trade!

     (Steve and Bert would like to welcome another fine reporter to the Raven Insider Family. John Domen is Associate Editor of The Orioles Hangout. His articles can be read at http://www.orioleshangout.com You can also chat and ask John questions on our Orioles board, or email him: jdomen@orioleshangout.com)


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