Sunday, January 5, 2014

An (Un)easy Transition for "Charm City" By: Micheal Amatucci

It’s been one week since Baltimore sports fans hearts sank after their defending Super Bowl Champion Ravens gave up a playoff spot to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Ohio.  Some fans are still feeling the heart break from last week’s disaster; others see the brighter side of life.  That light at the end of the tunnel, where the Ravens Super Bowl XLVIII hopes once loomed over the “charm city” sits a skyline view of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home to the Baltimore Orioles.
Though some Baltimoreans might have their season tickets and the taste of an ice cold National Bohemian on the tip of their lips, the Orioles up and coming season still looks like a disaster in the making.  After losing veteran Brian Roberts to the Yankees for a one year $2 million dollar deal, the Birds are going to have to fill his place in the batting order. 
The Orioles have a few options to fill B-Rob’s place.  Ryan Flaherty would be the ideal fit with 2013 Gold Glove winner JJ Hardy up the middle.  Flaherty ended the season with a .224 batting average last year, with some key hits during the season.  Though still unexperienced, I think Flaherty can become an everyday player.   The 27 year-old will be matched up against the newly acquired Jemile Weeks.  I’ve never even heard of this guy, and I don’t see the point in trading Jim Johnson for him.  Just because Jemile is the brother of Rickie Weeks, 2nd baseman for the Milwaukie Brewers, doesn’t mean the kid has the talent his brother has who’s had a smooth experience with the Brewers since 2003.  I don’t see the reason in trading our top closer Jim Johnson to acquire another 2nd baseman when we already possess an adequate replacement for Roberts.  To be safe, if I owned the club I would look to spend some money on an experienced and clutch 2nd basemen to fill the gap the Birds have.  Not saying I don’t have faith in Flaherty, but if most Orioles fans don’t already know, Peter Angelos, owner of the ball club, can be a cheapskate when it calls for money to be spent.  But 50% of the time Angelos, in his 21st year as the owner of the Orioles, usually has a bad track record when it comes to keeping the ball club alive.  In my defense, look at the Sammy Sosa trade back in 2005.       
Besides losing a half-decent veteran, offensively, the Birds almost seemingly gave away veteran closer Jim Johnson and left fielder Nate McClouth.  McClouth had a strong batting average of .258 and 137 hits during the first half of the season but dropped to .206 in the second half.   Seeing that Nate only batted .206 in the 2nd half, I can understand why the O’s wouldn’t give him a 2 year contract like he wanted.  Losing him leaves another gap in the roster.  By no means was he Chris Davis, who batted .286 and was only seven dingers away from matching Hall of Famer Rodger Maris’ single season homerun record at 60 homeruns.  I must say, the Birds need to fill their lineup with some consistent bats or current players must step up to the challenge.  The teams overall batting average last year was .260, according to  Hopefully but unlikely, Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and if healthy, Gold Glover Manny Machado can put the team on their back and produce a threat at the plate along with any other acquired players throughout the coming months.
                                                                                                Michael Amatucci

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