31 December 2010

A New Year is coming on and I have some thoughts...

As I have transitioned from the academic world to the real one, it is fairly obvious that the pace of my writing here has precipitously declined.  I do not think it will rebound, but things always changed.  I will certainly throw a holler out on twitter whenever something new is published.  With that, I am going to issue a state of the Orioles address.

The offseason is not yet over.  They picked up Derek Lee on a one year deal and may wind up with a couple of relievers.  They have overturned the left side of the infield with Mark Reynolds representing a massive upgrade at third and JJ Hardy providing a sufficient increase in talent at shortstop.  Cesar Izturis has been relegated to a defensive minded SS and potential pinch runner.

Back in October, I set up a range of options for the Orioles to take.  They addressed the major weaknesses I saw on the team (1B, 3B, SS, and SP).  At first base, I would consider Lee to be a near equivalent to Carlos Pena, which was my idea of an ideal conservative approach.  Adam Dunn represented a move that would be aggressive.  At shortstop, both options contained a hail mary prayer for JJ Hardy, which turned out to occur.  Hardy is certainly an upgrade over Izturis.  They have similar defense and Hardy provides a slight improvement in power.  If Hardy can somehow get back to his production of a few years ago, this would be a massive turn around for the O's at SS.  I doubt that happens.  Hardy's HR/FB last year was less than half of what it was during his career year.  His ISO appears to have settled in the .120 range.  At third, Reynolds is a step or two below Beltre, but a better option than my conservative approach with Juan Uribe.  Finally, starting pitcher was not considered an area for improvement, or at least not worth the price, by the O's front brass.

The Replacement Level Yankees Blog issued an early season projection with the Orioles winning on average of 70.1 games . . . about 12 games below .500.  That value does not include what LaRoche or Lee would provide.  Lee, based on James and Cairo, will see a value of about 2.5 WAR (1.5 if he is in freefall).  Lee likely replaces a greater presence of Nolan Reimold who is projected to be worth about 1-1.5 WAR.  So, we can assume that CAIRO projects the Orioles as a 71 or 72 win team.  The offense looks remarkably improved with 110 more runs being scored, but pitching will allow 28 more runs.  The pitching is so young that there is likely to be a great amount of variability in how well they will perform.  2011 will be able about the pitchers for the Orioles.

So what does all of this mean?