Aug 12, 2009, 4:41 PM EDT
This is part of a series articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
Sure, there are just four teams below them here, but the Orioles’ list now is a lot stronger than it would have been a couple of years ago, and if I do a similar set of rankings in 2011, there’s a good chance they’ll rank somewhere in the middle of the pack or perhaps higher.
A year ago, the rotation would have been Bedard, Maine, Olson, Hart and Josh Towers. Now there’s actual legitimate depth. Bergesen is a strong Rookie of the Year candidate, and Hernandez has a 3.81 ERA in 10 starts since debuting. Matusz gets the last spot over Uehara and Chris Tillman.
There may not be a legitimate closer here, but because the youngsters can slide into the rotation, the bullpen has a lot more depth with Uehara and Hart. Carrasco and Olson get the last spots over Tillman, Hayden Penn, Radhames Liz and John Parrish.
2B Brian Roberts
RF Nick Markakis
CF Jayson Werth
C Matt Wieters
DH Nolan Reimold
LF Willie Harris
SS Jerry Hairston Jr.
3B Mike Fontenot
1B Brandon Snyder
OF David Dellucci
OF Jeff Fiorentino
C Gregg Zaun
INF Augie Ojeda
Werth’s presence may surprise a few. He was a first-round pick as a catcher in 1997. The Orioles, though, soured on him when they figured out he was a long shot to last behind the plate, and they traded him to the Blue Jays for John Bale after 2000.
The lineup is decent, though the Orioles’ utter inability to develop a legitimate corner infielder is a problem. Fontenot belongs at second, not third, and first base came down to Snyder, who is hitting .275/.332/.376 in 178 at-bats since moving up to Triple-A, or Calvin Pickering.
There also weren’t many options at DH, so Reimold moves there and Harris improves the outfield defense. DHing Dellucci and playing Reimold in left was the other possibility.
The bottom of the lineup would look better if there were any possible platoonmates for Harris or Fontenot. However, Dellucci and Fiorentino are also left-handed hitters and Ojeda, a switch-hitter, is awful against southpaws.
The Orioles still have more young pitching on the way, and while the position player talent in the system doesn’t measure up, key players like Wieters, Markakis and Reimold should only improve. In two years time, Matusz and Tillman may be the aces of the staff. The organization is in better position now than at any point within the last 10 to 15 years, and it shows here.
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