It is time for your official predictions for the Orioles for the 2012 season. Post them here and we will revisit this many months from now in the winter. I said I would do that last winter, but this time I really mean it.
I'm going with 75 wins.
The offense was just about league average last year. If Nolan Reimold and Chris Davis produce some numbers, they could improve a tick or two on that. If he's healthy and stays that way, I see Jim Johnson having a very good year as closer. They won't blow nearly as many games in the ninth this year and let's hope Johnson gets plenty of chances to prove me right.
As opening day approaches, I am encouraged by the pitching in camp. The dozen or so starting rotation candidates dwindled faster than just about anyone figured but they have five that will head into the season coming off decent springs in Jake Arrieta, Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz even though Buck Showalter has yet to officially name the full rotation.
I see Adam Jones batting cleanup a lot and having a big year. Maybe something along the lines of .290-30-100 with 30 or so doubles and 90 runs scored. He's still going to drive some fans nuts by chasing pitches, but he'll catch up to plenty of them also.
I think he will force the Orioles to make a big decision by mid-year. Get the man signed to a long-term deal or consider trading him for what could be a big haul of prospects in July with teams fighting over him at the trade deadline. Dan Duquette keeps saying Jones is a player they want to build around. Then, it's time to show him the money.
Meanwhile, none of the Orioles minor league rosters have been released yet. It is always a last minute thing every year and this year seems no different. Delmarva is expected to release its roster this morning in advance of the Shorebirds exhibition game tonight with Salisbury University. I published many of the names that are likely to be there in a post yesterday. The Shorebirds should have four of the top eight Orioles prospects, according to the Baseball America rankings, on their opening day roster.
Here are where the O's top 10 prospects are likely to begin the season:
1 - Dylan Bundy, Delmarva
2 - Manny Machado, Bowie
3 - Jonathan Schoop, Bowie
4 - Parker Bridwell, Delmarva
5 - LJ Hoes, Bowie
6 - Nicky Delmonico, Delmarva
7 - Ryan Flaherty, Baltimore
8 - Jason Esposito, Delmarva
9 - Xavier Avery, Norfolk
10 - Dan Klein, injured
As far as I know, Avery remains a part of the Norfolk roster but there are rumblings he still could start at Bowie. As always, stay tuned.
It also sounds like two O's pitchers that were drafted last year will begin the season in Single-A Frederick's rotation in Mike Wright (round three) and Kyle Simon (round four).
Some players that appear bound for Bowie that I have not mentioned in previous posts include pitchers Robert Hinton, Stu Pomeranz and Wynn Pelzer and position players Edgardo Baez, Antoan Richardson, Ronnie Welty, Carlos Rojas, Travis Adair and catcher Allan de San Miguel, a native of Australia.
So what is your take?: How many games will the Orioles win this year? Which players will have big years and which ones won't? How will the young pitchers do?
As I make my way to Salisbury this morning, feel free to leave your comments and I look forward to reading them later today. I will be at the Shorebirds media day this afternoon and their game tonight. Dylan Bundy is not expected to pitch, but I'll have some news and notes in this space later today from Perdue Stadium.