Steve’s official predictions for the 2010 season (plus a Rowell update)

Billy Rowell update - I spoke with Billy Rowell tonight and he confirmed that he is moving back to the infield and will start this season with Class-A Frederick.

The 21-year-old Rowell is moving back to third base, a position he played from 2006 through 2008 in his first three years in the organization. He played right field at Frederick last year.

He may spend some time in the DH role early in the year as he re-adjusts to infield play. Rowell played outfield for the most part in spring camp before just recently moving back to third.

“New farm director John Stockstill has a plan for me in place and he thinks this will get me to the big leagues the fastest,” Rowell said.

I’ll have more quotes and longer story with Rowell in the morning.

With one day left before the start of a new O’s season, some fearless predictions for the 2010 season. Feel free to comment with some of your own.

AL East final standings:
Boston 94-68
Tampa 91-71
New York 90-72
Baltimore 79-83
Toronto 72-90

O’s home run leader: Reimold
O’s wins leader: Matusz
O’s OPS leader: Markakis

The Bird that fans are most concerned about: Easily Jeremy Guthrie. He led the AL in losses last year and didn’t do anything to ease fans concerns in spring. If he can locate better and mix in more changeups maybe he’ll have a bounce back year.

Another Oriole that could create a concern: Mike Gonzalez. I know he pitched some in the 8th last year but still saved only 10 of 17. Plus his fastball velocity was said to be lacking at times in March. No one seemed too worried and they feel he will dial it up starting Tuesday.

Rank the AL East rotations:
Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, Orioles, Blue Jays

Rank the AL East outfields:
Orioles, Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays

Pick to click: Who will be named Most Valuable Oriole on the final day of this season? Nick Markakis is probably the early favorite but I think Adam Jones will be bucking for the honor as well.

Who made that schedule? - The Orioles play 18 of their first 28 vs. Boston, NY and Tampa. They have a West Coast trip in mid April. They play 12 in a row vs. the Yankees and Boston starting April 23. They play 21 of the first 60 vs. NY and Boston.

If they could go even 28-32 or better to that point, the chance to finish at .500 better could increase.

Who is that knocking on the door? - What players will emerge from Triple-A and help the Orioles? Hard to say since how some of the O’s play could impact that. Between Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder, I say Snyder has the chance to get here quicker. He’s already played at Triple-A and between Atkins and Tejada, I think Atkins could struggle more and maybe open the door for Snyder at some point. But that would likely be no sooner than the second half of the season.

Luis Lebron could factor into the bullpen mix but right now is bothered by some arm problems.

Rank the AL East’s most obnoxious fans:
Red Sox and Yankees tie for first, Blue Jays, Rays, O’s

Rank some top AL East bloggers:
Roch, Melewski, Schmuck (just kidding).

Best player in the AL East: Tampa’s Evan Longoria. No one calls him Eva anymore. He has quickly become one of the game’s most feared bats and when you add in his excellent defense at third, he’s the best.

Most under-rated in the East: Tampa’s Ben Zobrist. Did you know he hit .297-27-91 last year with an OPS of .948? Did you know he can play every position save for pitch and catch? He’s good and he’s versatile. He’s just not that well known.

Rank the best bar for a post-game drink: Anyone where the beer is cold and the O’s talk is hot.

After my interesting weekend, I think I should skip the bars for a few weeks, if not longer. A big thank you to everyone for the concern over my health. Friday my heart was in pain, today it swells with good feelings from your kindness.

By the way, one concession I have made to my health scare is I will miss the Opening Day party tomorrow at ESPNZone. I hope many fans turn out, it should be awesome. Sorry I can’t be there but hope everyone understands.

Also, thanks to all my friends at MASN for the amazing fruit basket that just got delivered to my house. You are all awesome!

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