Orioles: Wieters can't be rushed

Everybody is excited about top prospect Matt Wieters, and rightfully so. He dominated the competition just about everywhere he played last year, which makes it easy to imagine he will do the same at this level as soon as the Orioles allow him to join the major league starting lineup.

Of course, that's a possibility with a young player of his potential, but there is only one logical reason to push him out there on Opening Day and there are plenty of good reasons to send him to Norfolk to dominate another level of the Orioles player development system.

The reason you start him ASAP is because you need people to come back to the ballpark after more than a decade of attendance in decline. He's got a chance to be the catching version of Evan Longoria and who better to lure back a disaffected fan base?

The reasons you don't:

1. He's not ready, which is something the Orioles have to care about even if you don't.

2. He needs more experience handling pitchers and it won't hurt him to get another hundred minor league at-bats.

3. He's got six years under club control and you don't want to waste a minute of that on a false start.

4. The O's can actually increase that to nearly seven years by holding him back for a couple of months.

I'll stand by for all the angry and sarcastic barbs about the Orioles caring only about saving money, but there's more to it than that. There is real economic and strategic logic in slow-playing Wieters, since his effort this year -- no matter how good -- probably would not have a major impact on the competitive potential of the team.

If he turns out to be as good as everybody thinks he might, then keeping him tied to the Orioles for his seventh year in the majors is way more valuable than having him in the lineup for every minute of his first year at the big league level. Scoff at the front office for thinking that way if you want, but it makes perfect sense.

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