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Murphy's law was in full effect for the Orioles during the season's first half, as Orioles Magic turned into Orioles Tragic in a hurry. Poor situational hitting, inconsistent pitching, injuries and the firing of their manager all contributed to their league-worst 29-59 record.

The Orioles have picked it up of late, even before their four-game road sweep of the Rangers. But it is a bit too optimistic to expect .500 baseball from them in the second half.

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Instead, here are some more realistic goals I would like to see the Orioles accomplish — positive strides that can build momentum heading into an important 2011 season.

1. A strong finish for Matt Wieters: Baltimore's "Baseball Jesus" ranks high among the Orioles' many disappointments. The young catcher, who is batting .245 with six homers and 29 RBIs, has struggled to get into a groove in the batter's box after a fine finish to his rookie season.

But Wieters {photo, at left, by The Baltimore Sun} is a can't-miss talent, a supernova waiting to explode. Hopefully we see it happen in the second half.

2. "Cavalry" continues to shine: Starters Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta have pitched well more often than not, and Chris Tillman threw a gem against Cliff Lee and the Rangers last weekend — encouraging stuff.

We've seen what this trio is capable of, but obviously Matusz, Arrieta and Tillman need to perform at that level consistently to be successful. Now each has an opportunity to cement a spot in the rotation for the next few years.

Sidenote: Anything positive from Brad Bergesen would be a bonus.

3. An active trade deadline: After an uneventful trade deadline in 2009 — only closer George Sherrill was dealt — Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail must burn up the phone lines in the coming weeks. We need a Camden Yards sale, folks. Everything must go!

That means any player with value — Miguel Tejada, Ty Wigginton, Kevin Millwood, Will Ohman — should be shipped out if they can garner a reasonable return. And if the Orioles have a chance to be buyers, they should go for it.

4. Josh Bell: His five-game stint at the start of July was unspectacular, but Bell needs to be given an extended look down the stretch — even if the O's don't trade Tejada.

5. A healthy return for Brian Roberts: I still think Roberts, who has been on the DL with a back injury since the first week of the season, should have been shelved for the rest of 2010 once it was clear the Orioles' season was lost.

But the Orioles' offensive catalyst has been rehabbing hard and could be back atop the lineup soon. Let's just hope B-Rob doesn't screw up his back more by rushing his return.

6. Adam Jones gets his defensive swagger back: A year removed from winning a Gold Glove, the gum-lovin' O's centerfielder has gotten flak for his spotty defensive play. Jones insists on playing super shallow like a Little League rover even though flyballs regularly sail over his head. It would be nice if Jones checked his ego at the clubhouse door and lined up deeper out in center. He would come up with more of those Gold Glove-caliber catches if he did.

7. A manager finally hired: Enough already. O's interim manager Juan Samuel has filled in admirably since he took over for Dave Trembley in early June, but it's time for the Orioles to name their next long-term skipper.

Whether it's Buck Showalter, Eric Wedge or Samuel, please put an end to the suspense and speculation.
This soap opera has been drawn out nearly as much as "The Hills" — and that's saying something.

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