Some pitching and some hoops

Jeremy Guthrie seems to be one pitcher that many fans feel is in for another poor year. Some reporters are questioning his confidence. Some don't even feel he should begin the year in the rotation. I am not in that camp. He showed me enough in 2007 and 2008 and I am not yet overly concerned about his spring performance. Only 15 pitchers in the AL worked more innings than Guthrie last season and that should count for something. His 5.04 ERA came down some in the second half when he pitched to a 4.73. Far from great, but far from terrible also. The fans confidence in him is slipping while his doubters are growing. He should and will get a chance to begin the year in the rotation. Now, if his ERA is over 5.00 in June it could be a different story. The Red Sox have announced that the order of their starting rotation come opening day will be Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Wakefield and Buchholz. To me, that is the AL East's best rotation with three number-one caliber pitchers at the top. Whether the Yankees would go with Pettitte or Vazquez third, I'll go with Boston's top three and five, which could add a healthy Daisuke Matsuzaka sometime in April. In a loaded division, Tampa is pretty strong with its starters and Toronto has some promise as well. What else is new? After beating Maryland with a buzzer beater, Michigan State beat Northern Iowa by seven and Tennessee by one to make another Final Four. Six in a dozen years is rather impressive. So, its Duke vs. West Virginia and Michigan State vs. Butler in the Final Four. Anyone have that? Even three of those teams? How should a Terps fan feel today? Happy, that they got beat by a Final Four club or wondering what might have been? This time last year it seemed any healthy pitcher who could make it through five innings had a chance to be in the O's rotation. Now, guys like David Hernandez and Jason Berken are having solid springs and still could begin the year in the minors. Credit Hernandez and Berken for exceeding the expectations of some and making upcoming club pitching decisions difficult. Take away Hernandez's 3 ER he gave up in 2 2/3 on March 11 and his spring ERA would be 1.20. Take away the 3 ER Berken gave up March 17 and he would have an ERA of 0.71. The best quote coming out of Florida and O's camp so far to me comes from team president Andy MacPhail. He was asked about the competition for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. He indicated the O's staff is much deeper and better than it was this time last year. He said: "Absolutely. We have guys competing for spots and we don't have spots competing for guys." Meanwhile, what is your take on the battle for the O's final starting rotation spot and the battle for the final spots in the bullpen? Also, remember, you can watch tonight's O's vs. Yankees game live on MASN beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Next challenge for Waring: Eastern League pitcher...
Plenty of reasons to watch the minors

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