Over the past few months, fans and sports pundits have wondered whether or not Matt Wieters is a bust - despite the Orioles catcher only having played in the major leagues for less than two full seasons.
I remember the Friday night of his major league debut like it was yesterday. It was a warm one in June 2009 and 42,000 fans jammed Oriole Park at Camden Yards to get a glimpse of a man who could potentially become the next Baltimore legend.
We all cheered wildly for the young man. The feeling that night was a like a playoff game and it felt like a page in a not-so-lovely decade was about to be turned and bring us all a new, brighter chapter.
Many expected Wieters to join the pantheon of Charm City legends such as Johnny Unitas, Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson or any other athlete who has so touched a community. I thought the comparisons of Wieters being a young Joe Mauer - just with power - was a tad ridiculous, considering he had not even played a major league game yet.
It’s obvious that prospects - no matter where they were drafted - sometimes don’t pan out.
We all know Wieters was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, praised by umpteen publications and christened the next big thing by many. He’s a tall, photogenic, young man whose swing and ability behind the dish could potentially play a huge role in lifting the Orioles from second-division, also-ran status.
I’m sure fans wanted someone - or something - to believe in year after year of seeing a franchise struggle. Wieters was honestly that vehicle and while he has become a very serviceable catcher, the visions of him becoming a Baltimore legend are right now on hold.
However, Wieters has been far from a bust.
All things considered, he’s been fairly sold and as of late has played shockingly well behind the dish. Even more impressive, Wieters has helped stabilize a pitching staff full of young arms and has gotten praise from most everyone on the roster - the most important being a seal of approval from manager Buck Showalter.
Before we all forget, 2010 was Wieters’ first full season in the majors. He’s only 24 and it would have probably been impossible to live up the advance billing that was given to him before he even had his first major league at-bat.
Of course, Wieters’ offensive production in the minor leagues has not translated to the majors. Everyone expected him to be a hybrid of Mauer and Johnny Bench; however, he cannot be classified as a failure despite his struggles in 2010.
He showed flashes of brilliance in 2009 after a June call-up, but as we all know took a huge step back.
Wieters did finish up the year strong last season and let’s not forget that he had to learn, guide a pitching staff, plus deal with a horrendous four-month stretch of losing before Showalter came to the Orioles.
He simply needs more time to develop his hitting game and his offensive output should eventually flourish. I’m sure most of us fans feel the same way.
Wieters will get another year under his belt, and I think he’ll be greatly improved at the plate from 2010.
It’s way too to erect a bust in Cooperstown for him; however, he’s a big part of the future for the Orioles and should be around for quite a long while. Let’s hope for the best.
Anthony Amobi blogs about the Orioles at Oriole Post. His observations about the O’s will appear this week as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.