Are the Orioles as good as they look right now?
They are 8-2 in exhibition games, have scored 29 runs the last three games and 79 runs over the 10 games. They have the best record in the Grapefruit League and second-best among all American League teams behind Cleveland at 8-1.
Yes, these games means nothing and won’t help them even a little bit three weeks from today when the Orioles open the 2014 season. Can you believe that? The opener is now just three weeks away.
If the Orioles were 2-8 and had scored just 20 runs, there would be plenty of talk about how that means nothing and is no reason to be concerned. So I guess the opposite is no reason to start saving for playoff tickets. But, hey, if you have a few spare bucks ...
It is still welcome to see good signs coming from the Florida sun. I’ll be at camp starting Wednesday and look forward to seeing it all in person.
Nick Markakis is 10-for-16 with four doubles so far. Chris Davis is 8-for-15 with two homers. Jonathan Schoop is 8-for-15 and J.J. Hardy is 6-for-15.
The four players combined are batting .525 at 32-for-61 with nine doubles, a triple, four homers and 19 RBIs.
On the mound, Bud Norris has fanned six over five shutout innings. Zach Britton has allowed one run over six frames and Kevin Gausman just one run over five innings. Ubaldo Jimenez threw two perfect innings in his first start. Even knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa is impressing with 3 2/3 scoreless and hitless innings along with five strikeouts.
The Orioles have a solid group of position players that have a lunchpail, hard-working mentality. They can’t be thrilled how last season ended over the final two months and the focus so far this spring seems to be right on point. The late additions to the roster not only energized a fanbase, but that seems to have carried over to the clubhouse as well.
Every year, teams and players that look great in spring struggle early in the year and others that look terrible start off great. Spring stats can be fool’s gold. But if you are still in need of some reasons to get enthused for another season, the Orioles are providing some right now.
As for Santana: There is still no resolution with free agent pitcher Ervin Santana and the Orioles are still a finalist to add the right-hander.
Some fans have expressed concern about his homers allowed. Two years ago, he led the league giving up 39 gopher balls, but in three of the last four seasons he has given up 26 or 27. That is not a huge amount considering Santana ranks sixth in the AL in innings pitched since 2010.
In those four seasons, he has given up 1.26 homers per nine innings. In that same time frame, Chris Tillman has allowed 1.30. Good pitchers can give up homers and still be good pitchers.
Last season, Santana’s groundball rate of 46.2 percent was his career best and was 11th in the AL among qualified pitchers. He’s not a flyball pitcher to the extent he is being portrayed by some.
If the O’s can get Santana on a one-year deal, even if they have to pay a bit more than they are comfortable with, it should be something they pursue, and they clearly are. They’ll find room for all the pitchers and having too many (can you ever really say that?) would be a good problem.
Looking at some stats: Brian Roberts has started 2-for-14 (.143) with the Yankees and Nate McLouth has the exact same stats with the Nationals. Jim Johnson has pitched three innings for Oakland, allowing four hits and two runs.
Grant Balfour has struggled in two of his first three outings for Tampa Bay. Over 2 1/3 innings this spring, he has allowed five hits and five runs with three walks and a .455 average against. His ERA is 19.29.