The sun is shining, temps are rising and spring is in full bloom. You know what that means — that's right, another mailbag. Of course, baseball season started this week, too, and the Orioles are on the readers' minds. The Ravens, too. And hockey in Baltimore. Wait, what?b's favorite homer sports fan, Tim Lumber, asks via e-mail, "Do you see the Orioles finishing in last place once again this season?"

Mark it down, the Orioles will finish fourth in the AL East this season. Then again, I picked them to finish fourth a year ago, and that didn't work out so well. But this team is an upgrade over last year's edition. The lineup is better, the pitching staff should be more consistent and there is a lot of talent on the bench.


The biggest reason for optimism, though, is that guys like Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz are a year older and ready to break out. It's a shame the O's are stuck in this division, though. This team could contend in a weak division like the NL West, but there's no way they can hang with the big boys — the Yanks, Sox and Rays — in the AL East. Maybe next year.

bigphilmd on Twitter is freaking out: "The Orioles' depth at first base is a bit unstable to me. [Garrett] Atkins is fine, but what if he gets hurt? .... If we move [Luke] Scott to first, who will fill the void at DH? Am I panicking?"

First base — and the lack of a proven big bat at the position — is one of the O's biggest concerns, but it's not like it will be the difference between them making the playoffs and missing out.

If Atkins can swing the bat like he did a couple of years ago, he'll be a solid stopgap. And Scott, Ty Wigginton and even Nolan Reimold could see time at first, too. But for the O's to take the next step, they need to acquire someone like San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez in the offseason. If they don't, panicking will be understandable then.

wheelsee on Twitter asks, "Do you see the Ravens trading down for more draft picks?"

Count on it. The Ravens have only five picks after giving up their third- and fourth-rounders in the Anquan Boldin deal. You know GM Ozzie Newsome treasures those draft picks, and word on the street is that the Ravens absolutely love this draft. He may not trade away No. 25, but he'll do something to acquire more picks.

rushringleader on Twitter is looking waaaay ahead when he asks, "Do you think the Ravens are Super Bowl bound now?"

Considering we haven't even reached the draft yet, it's hard for me to anoint a Super Bowl favorite. But I like how the Ravens' offseason has shaped up so far. If the season started today, they would be my pick to win the AFC North — assuming Ed Reed isn't retiring. But everything will hinge on the development of Joe Flacco, as it should. He's the franchise QB.

redneckotaku on Twitter writes, "What would it take to get a pro hockey team (minor league at a minimum) to Baltimore?"

Being the city's biggest hockey fan, I'd love to find out. My guess is it will take a new arena to lure a minor-league hockey or basketball team to Baltimore. But given the success of teams in Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, I find it hard to believe a team couldn't thrive here, even though ones have failed in the past. Just look at the success the Blast has had — and that's soccer.

Got a question for matt? e-mailmatt@bthesite.com twitter@mattvensel