I was asked often during radio show interviews the last few weeks if Brian Roberts should hit first in the Orioles' batting order. I said I thought he should. But, as usual, Buck Showalter makes perfect sense when he explains why Roberts will begin the season batting ninth.
Buck knows best, I need to keep repeating that.
He mentioned this may be the best way for Roberts to get back into full-time duty for the club and that they can always move him up in the order later if needed. Not to mention that the club has at least two good options for the leadoff spot in Nick Markakis and Nate McLouth, and Nolan Reimold did well there last April.
The Orioles' No. 9 hitters last season had a .228 batting average and the AL average for that spot was .232. They had an on-base percentage of .294 compared to a league average of .292 and an OPS of .645, just above the .640 league average.
Roberts' career numbers show an average of .280, a .351 OBP and .764 OPS. That gives the O's the possibility to have a real strong No. 9 hitter - for as long as Roberts bats there - even if he falls short this year of his career numbers.
By the way, some players that were released from the Orioles' minor leagues on Friday posted some very nice and classy comments via Twitter on their way out.
Outfielder Adam Greenberg tweeted:
* I want to thank the Orioles for the opportunity this spring. It was a huge success. In 31 at-bats batted .355 with a .413 on base% no regrets
Pitcher Pat Egan tweeted:
* Its been a great 6 years with the Orioles. Forever grateful for my opportunity. Great organization headed in even better direction #Os
Catcher Joe Oliveira tweeted:
* I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Orioles and excited for what lies ahead. Special thanks to everyone who's supported me
Some pretty nice comments there by those guys.
I am about to refer to a person here that can stir up Orioles fans like no other by writing just a few words. I am about to refer to Keith Law. I know that, when he speaks, O's fans seem to be glued to his every word. Personally, I respect his opinion greatly, but no more than that of others at ESPN like Buster Olney, Jayson Stark and Tim Kurkjian.
Law has predicted that the Orioles will finish last in the AL East and win 14 fewer games this season. Don't panic O's fans, or start the usual Law bashing in the comments section, or get too worked up. It is just an opinion but here is how he sees the East shaking out this year:
Tampa Bay: 93-69
New York: 82-80
I can't link his story, as it is part of their pay package. But Law wrote, "The Baltimore Orioles' 2012 season was a great story, but was built on an unsustainable foundation of luck and bullpen performance."
By getting luck and unsustainable into the same sentence, he is a candidate for the sabermetric Hall of Fame.
Again, take a deep breath. His prediction doesn't mean the Orioles will finish last any more than Olney's first-place prediction guarantees the club a playoff berth.
Finally, Dan Duquette proved again last night that he is relentless in his pursuit of baseball talent. While some O's fans seemed to diss the Freddy Garcia and, to a lesser extent, Scott Proctor acquisitions, you can't fault the man for trying to improve his team and add to an already deep pitching staff.
I guess you can never have enough pitching.
Keep in mind, neither player was signed to a big league deal and neither is even taking up a 40-man roster spot. If it turns out even one can help the big league club for even a short time at some point, good for the Orioles. If they don't, no harm done.
In what should be a close and hotly contested AL East race you will need all the talent you can get and sometimes one or two wins or one or two seemingly not important signings make a huge difference in the end.
Duquette never comes up for air in his effort to make this team even a little bit better. What is wrong with that?