We’re a week away from pitchers and catchers reporting to the Orioles’ spring training camp in Sarasota, Fla. Buck Showalter is already heading down, and the team is taking care of a few more pieces of business before starting to prepare for one of the most anticipated seasons in recent years.
Here’s a look at what some of the national media outlets have been writing about the Orioles:
--- David Schoenfield of ESPN.com’s SweetSpot blog put up his offseason report card for the Orioles yesterday, and let’s just say he wasn’t too impressed.
Schoenfield gives the O’s an F for their offseason:
No team had a more disappointing offseason than the Orioles, who failed to capitalize on their surprising playoff run by making any impact moves. With potential holes at left field, second base and DH, the Orioles instead elected to bring back [Nate] McLouth (who did play well in last 55 games), sign [Alexi] Casilla (.241/.282/.321 in 2012) and entrust the DH spot to Wilson Betemit. Even then, the trouble is the Orioles' true talent level is probably closer to a .500 team than a 93-win team. Even if some of the regulars fare as well as in 2012, they'll need to improve elsewhere, barring another miracle 16-2 record in extra-inning games.
As a bit of a retort, it’s probably unfair to say the Orioles have entrusted the DH spot to Betemit, as it sounds more like Showalter would like to rotate who fills that role. (Nolan Reimold could presumably get quite a few at-bats as a DH if Nate McLouth is the everyday left fielder.)
But even the most ardent Orioles supporters would agree that their offseason hasn’t included many fireworks.
Overall, Schoenfield says the Orioles are a B- team, “But Josh Hamilton would have looked nice in the middle of this lineup.”
--- ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the farm systems in all of baseball, and he puts the Orioles 13th. (NOTE: You need an insider account to see the full story.)
Law’s rankings take into account each organization’s farm system “from top to bottom,” but it’s pretty clear that the O’s are ranked that high on account of their “top”:
Dylan Bundy emerged as the minors best pitching prospect in 2012, while their first pick from last year's draft, Kevin Gausman, was one of the hottest names in Florida instructional league in September. They'd rank higher had Manny Machado not lost his rookie eligibility in September.
Today, Law released his Top 100 prospects list, which includes four Orioles prospects: Dylan Bundy (No. 3 overall), Gausman (26th), Jonathan Schoop (50th) and Eduardo Rodriguez (100th).
--- On CBSSports.com, senior blogger Matt Snyder took a look at the Orioles’ future as part of their “Core Values” series.
He gives the O’s core a B+ grade:
The O's fall short of an A here due to not having great position-player depth in the system, whether at the big-league level or in the minors. The good news is they have plenty of time to build around [Adam] Jones, Machado and [Matt] Wieters -- as well as sporting a good pitching staff and possessing an outstanding manager.
Even if the Orioles take a step back this coming season, there is a good foundation in place for future success.
--- The MLB Network is holding a fan vote to find the “Face of MLB.” Fans chose one player as the face of each franchise, and now those players are competing in a bracket tournament. Adam Jones is representing the Orioles and facing the Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton in the first round.
The winner faces Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves.
--- Finally, the New York Times had an obituary on former Orioles catcher Earl Williams, who died last week. Williams spent two years in Baltimore but was best known for the promising start to his career with the Atlanta Braves. That and apparently a pretty good sense of humor.
The obit quotes him as once saying “my favorite position is batter,” and then there’s this:
During spring training in 1978, he was waived by the A’s and not claimed by any other team — a surprising turn, especially to Williams. That June he took the remarkable step of placing a job-seeking advertisement in The New York Times.
“Employment wanted by baseball player,” the ad said, adding: “Excellent Health — No Police Record. HAVE BAT — WILL TRAVEL — WILL HUSTLE.”