A call to young arms

No matter which lineup you've chosen for the Orioles, and we kicked around a few more ideas yesterday, it's important to heed the words of second baseman Brian Roberts that he delivered to reporters at FanFest.

They reached our ears long before the Orioles reached agreement with Vladimir Guerrero, but Roberts' message still rings true.

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"For us, the biggest key is still going to be our young pitchers, our young starters," Roberts said. "They're going to have to pitch well for us."

It's pretty hard to argue with that logic.

The Orioles could try to bash teams into submission, and it's bound to work on plenty of nights, but they need their young starters to step up. This rebuilding plan is still built around them.

The Orioles are actually buying the bats now, but growing the arms comes first.

"Grow the arms and buy the bats." Yep, that's how I memorized it.

It's nice to think that the resurgence under manager Buck Showalter will carry into the 2011 season.

Your friendly reminder:

Brian Matusz: 7-1, 2.11 ERA in his last 11 starts.
Brad Bergesen: 5-3, 2.88 ERA in his last 11 starts.
Jake Arrieta: 3-3, 3.78 ERA in his last eight starts.
Chris Tillman: 1-1, 4.08 ERA in his last five starts.

Tillman posted the highest ERA in the fewest starts, and he walked 18 in 28 2/3 innings, but he also held opponents to a .172 average. They batted .211 against Matusz and .229 against Bergesen.

Going back to Roberts, he'll have three new infield mates on opening day if everyone stays healthy - Mark Reynolds at third, J.J. Hardy at short and Derrek Lee at first. That's quite an overhaul.

"I've been through a lot of infields in the last nine years, so it's not that awkward, but I've never had a transition where I don't think anybody was left," Robert said at FanFest. "Izzy (Cesar Izturis) will be back and he'll play some short, so I'll still have him around. But for the most part it is an all-new infield and I'm excited about it.

"I've seen these guys play over the years and being in Arizona over the winter, I knew a lot about Mark Reynolds and what he's accomplished there. Certainly, Derrek Lee's someone I've crossed paths with over the last 10 years. A tremendous player. And then adding J.J., I've heard nothing but great things from other teammates. So, we're excited about the possibilities and what's going to happen."

It could be a lot more exciting if the rotation holds up. And there are some young arms doing the lifting.

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