I think the off season saw more action for the Orioles than their regular season of 2007. They finished the 2007 campaign with a 69-93 record. The lone bright spots of the 07 season were Erik Bedard and Nick Markakis. Fast forward to the off season and what do we find in the Orioles locker room? Three players named to the Mitchell Report and the biggest bat in the line up in Houston. As if losing the best bat in the line up wasn't bad enough, they traded away their ace to Seattle. They may have gotten rid of their best players, but they did get a lot of young talent in return. Sounds like a youth movement to me and what do we use youth for in MLB? If you answered to rebuild, you are correct!
Acquired LHP Troy Patton, OF Luke Scott, RHP Matt Albers, RHP Dennis Sarfate and nonroster 3B Michael Costanzo from the Astros for SS Miguel Tejada
Acquired OF Adam Jones, LHP George Sherrill, RHP Chris Tillman, RHP Kam Mickolio and LHP Tony Butler from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for LHP Erik Bedard.
Projected Positional Starters
1B- Kevin Millar
2B- Brian Roberts
CF- Adam Jones/Jay Payton
RF- Nick Markakis
DH- Aubrey Huff/ Jay Gibbons
Projected Starting Rotation
Ace - Jeremy Guthrie
2 - Adam Loewen
3 - Daniel Cabrera
4 - Troy Patton
5 - Garrett Olson
Closer- George Sherrill
Middle Relievers - Dennis Safarte, Jamie Walker, Chad Bradford
Hitters To Draft
Nick Markakis, RF
The prize of the Orioles franchise will give your fantasy team 30 Home Runs and at least 100 RBI. He will bat around .300 and shows no signs of slowing down. People expected the sophomore slump from him in 2007, but he silenced his critics with a solid season. Last season Markakis also accumulated 18 stolen bases. This adds value to him since many players who hit 30 HR and get 100 RBI do not steal bases.
Brian Roberts, 2B
He will bat around .290 and will steal you a ton of bases, since he is on the Orioles,FOR NOW, expect him to keep stealing bases since the offense in Baltimore isn't exactly the '27 Yankees. With any luck and a power burst maybe Roberts will have a 20/20 season? Keep an eye on Roberts, rumors of him heading to the Cubs have been running rampant throughout the Internet.
Melvin Mora, 3B
Has value at many positions and will be available late in your draft. He isn't a brand name baseball player and should fall to the late rounds. Provides value, he will give you around 20 HR and can steal a bag for you here and there.
Pitchers to Draft
Adam Loewen, Jeremy Guthrie, Daniel Cabrera, SP
These three pitchers remind me of Verlander, Bonderman, and Robertson in Detroit. They are young, maybe even too young to be in the bigs but are taking it on the chin and learning on the job. Any of these three pitchers could emerge as an ace. Even though Cabrera had 18 losses last season you can't deny his ability. Loewen and Guthrie should compete for the opening day start, but that doesn't really make them an ace. Both of these young men had decent years last season on a team going nowhere. Look for these two pitchers to improve and maybe even develop into all stars down the road.
George Sherrill, CL
I would wait until it is official but I think Sherrill will be named the Orioles' closer during Spring Training. Sherrill had a solid season in Seattle last season posting and excellent ERA and WHIP as one of the Mariners key middle relievers. The Orioles should be pretty bad this season so Sherrill may not get many save opportunities. However, he will go late in your draft and should be a good source of cheap saves now and then.
Players to Avoid
Ramon Hernandez, C
I apologize to the fantasy owner that gets stuck with Ramon Hernandez, he doesn't really do much with the bat. Hernandez is injury prone and is coming off a poor season where he hit only 9 HRs to go along with 62 RBI. In 2008, he will hit towards the bottom of a poor Orioles lineup so I don't see him improving all that much.
Aubrey Huff, OF/DH
Huff's Power numbers have been going down every year since 2004. He was once a promising fantasy player with Tampa, but now he is fighting for playing time with Jay Gibbons and Kevin Millar. Over the past 4 seasons, Huff's HR totals have dropped from 29 to 15 while his RBIs have fallen from 104 all the way down to 72. The fact he is splitting playing time won't help his output.
Danys Baez, MR
Orioles reliever Danys Baez will undergo elbow ligament replacement ("Tommy John") surgery and will probably miss the 2008 season. The right-hander hoped to avoid surgery through an extensive rehabilitation program. However, it appears that Baez has decided to have an operation.
Adam Jones, CF
The prize in the Bedard deal looks to be the opening day starting centerfielder. He is a 5 tool player and playing next to Markakis should only make him better. He dominated the minor leagues, but had little success in his two cups of tea in the big leagues. He will turn 23 in August so it would be wise to wait on him and store him away if you are in a deep keeper league. He will be a great baseball player, but it may not be this year. Keep an eye on his spring training stats before committing to him.
Dennis Safarte, MR
Was one of the young arms included in the Tejada deal. In his limited time in 2007, he put up solid numbers. In 7 games out of the bullpen he only allowed 1 ER and struck out 14 batters. If he can have success like this over the long term in Baltimore, maybe he could be their top set up man with Baez out for the season.
Troy Patton, SP
Another quality arm acquired in the Tejada deal and looks to be in the starting rotation come April. He put up decent numbers last year in his September call up, keep an eye on him in Spring Training.
Luke Scott, LF
Never really had a position in Houston but in Baltimore will be the Orioles' starting LF. He hit 18 HR last season and with a full season has a good chance to break the 20 HR mark. Could be worth your while late in the draft as a 4th outfielder.