Okay, so maybe the O's will not add much excitement to the end of this season.
But--the excitement may be in the fact that they have opened some eyes into the future, and at least we can see some light at the end of this tunnel.
I've always said that the toughest part of the season is the stretch drive because it's so hard to play well against the contending teams at this time of the year. They are focused on the play-offs and sub-.500 teams just get pummeled unless some real transformation occurs that nobody expects.
Well the Orioles are not ready for that. They are still prone to doing a lot of crazy little things that other teams find easy to take advantage of - Bad baserunning, some shaky defensive decisions, throwing to the wrong base, and other mechanical and mental mistakes that drive us all nuts.
Above it all, they have identified themselves as a possible contender for next year.
Let's look at it from a statistical standpoint.
Markakis, Jones, Reimold and/or Pie - I can see 300 to 350 RBIs from this group and a pretty good--maybe the best--defensive outfield in baseball (Pie included if the light goes on).
Matt Wieters, with some serious work on his set up, could be a top defensive catcher, and there's no question about the capabilities of 75 RBIs.
(That's 4 solid positions.)
Roberts and Izturis on defense just need to improve on turning the double play (the most important part of that infield combo), but the offense based on what Roberts already does and the fact that Izturis is a pretty good contact hitter that doesn't strikeout much, is very good. That's another 130+ RBIs.
Let's count it up now --550 RBIs? We now have first and third to look at and there is no telling at this point how it will pan out with Melvin and/or Luke and/or Aubrey. Any way you see it we have to come up with a duo that can drive in 200 runs or changes have to be made. That's 750 RBIs maybe.
Can we count on Luke to drive in 100 RBIs, as streaky as he is? I would love to see it happen, and that would give us 850 possible RBIs.
We might get 70 from a good bench and that could put us at about 920 RBIs. You have to have 800 to even be considered in the race, but that's how it looks to me right now. Not so bad.
Now we have to look at the glue - Pitching:
Assuming everyone is healthy, the solid part of the starting staff would be one. Bergesen: 15 wins; Matusz: 15; Tillman: 12+; Guthrie: 10 to 18? That's 50 to 60 wins there.
Now based on the fact that Hernandez, Berken, Koji, Arrieta, and a few others will battle it out for other spots, that leaves some question as to where we will get 35 more wins; but even that is not out of the question. With solid starters going deep into games, we could already have plenty in the bullpen to deal with if not overworked.
An interesting point is that the worse their record now, the better the draft pick we get (a positive note).
A free agent ace for the No. 1 slot might free up a few to be traded, and we could end up sitting pretty before next spring.
Now mix in a program where the players go home and get in the best shape ever. Come to spring training in mid-season shape, add some intensity and toughness to their game plan and we're looking at the ingredients that could produce sellout crowds from the All-Star break on.
Works for me.