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Looking to the Future: 5 Keys for the Baltimore Orioles 7

Posted on August 21, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Brian Matusz and the other Baltimore starters have been magical since the arrival of Buck Showalter.

Buck Showalter has made a great early impression on the Baltimore Orioles during his first weeks on the job already guiding the O’s to more wins in August than they have registered in any previous month this season. As we look toward the long-term future for the Orioles, there are five keys that Showalter will have a chance to evaluate over the final 40 games.

1.Starting pitching – The biggest reason for the turnaround during the month of August has been the performance of the starting pitchers. After barely averaging five innings per outing and posting an ERA above 5 for the first 100 games of the season, the starting pitcher has pitched at least six innings in 15 of the first 18 games for Showalter with an ERA under 3.

The question moving forward is whether Showalter and crew have found the key to pitching success or if at some point the starters will return to their old ways. With three of the five starters in just their first or second season in the majors, the hope is that they are building for long-term success.

Though veteran Kevin Millwood has pitched better in August, if the Orioles hope to make significant improvement in 2011 they will need to add at least one additional proven winning pitcher to the starting rotation.

2.Corner Infield – When the Orioles were the best team in baseball in the early 1970s they had superstars at both third base in Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson and at first base in 1970 league MVP Boog Powell.

In 2010, those two positions are significant weaknesses for the Birds. Showalter will have the next six weeks to see if rookie third baseman Josh Bell can be the long-term answer for the Orioles. So far, Bell has definitely not earned the spot for next season as he is hitting just .216 with no home runs and 4 RBI in 23 games. With the Orioles out of contention it doesn’t hurt to give him a long look. However, if he doesn’t turn things around soon the Orioles will definitely need to address the position in the off season. Read the rest of this entry →

Baltimore Orioles Finally Finding Some Magic 8

Posted on August 09, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Jeremy Guthrie has been brilliant in his first two performances since Buck SHowalter arrived in Baltimore.

In his first week as manager of the Baltimore Orioles, Buck Showalter has proven not simply to be a great baseball mind, but also a pitching guru. After more than 100 games of borderline ineptitude, the starting pitchers for the Orioles responded to their new manager with seven straight quality starts and the results are six wins in seven games and perhaps a new attitude in Charm City.

After 13 years of disappointments Orioles fans have to be careful not to get carried away after winning six of seven games against two teams fighting for playoff positions in the American League. However, the immediate change in performance both offensively and defensively is a hopeful sign that the Orioles have some of the right players in place and simply needed a manager capable of pushing the buttons.

Team president Andy MacPhail said at the beginning of the season that he believed the Orioles were ready to stop rebuilding and start playing to win. A 32-73 record in their first 105 games hardly supported his statement.

However, since Showalter’s arrival, along with the return from injuries of starting second baseman Brian Roberts and starting catcher Matt Wieters, the O’s have definitely played at a different level. Read the rest of this entry →

Nice Show! Orioles Sweep Angels For New Manager 9

Posted on August 06, 2010 by Dean Hybl

New manager Buck Showalter is watching and evaluating every move the Orioles make.

Sure it is just three games in early August, but for the Baltimore Orioles and new manager Buck Showalter the sweep of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first three games under Showalter is a positive sign in what has generally been a dismal season.

Though the goal for Showalter is long-term success for the Orioles, the short term can be very important for a team that has played above .500 ball in the months of August and September only once in the last decade.

Baltimore has not had a winning season since 1997 and their play in the final two months every season has typically set a negative tone for the offseason. Since 2000, the Orioles have posted a winning percentage of .382 (218-352) after August 1st.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the only season during the recent decade in which the Orioles had a winning record over the final two months was 2004 when they went 32-28. The next season Baltimore jumped out to a great start and led the American League for two months before fading down the stretch.

If the Orioles hope to inject any hope back into the minds of a fan base that is tired after watching 13 straight losing seasons, they can start the process with a strong final two months.

Showalter gives the team the much needed motivation to play hard now because he is using this time to gauge which players he wants to carry the mantra for his team in 2011. Read the rest of this entry →

2011 Season Starts Now For The Baltimore Orioles 13

Posted on August 02, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Will Buck Showalter be able to return magic to the Orioles' uniform?

Though the calendar may say that it is August 2010, for all intent and purposes, the 2011 season has begun for the Baltimore Orioles.

With the Buck Showalter era beginning on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the new skipper will be spending the next two months looking to determine which current Orioles he believes can be part of the future for the franchise.

For just about every player, the next two months can be considered an audition as very few roster spots seem certain for 2011.

Finishing 2010 with a flourish would be a great boost for the Orioles as Showalter looks to set the tone for the future.

Once among the most successful franchises in baseball, the Orioles have not had a winning season since 1997 and have seen their season victory total decline every year since 2004.

The job for Showalter will not be just to assemble a talented roster, but also to restore a winning culture to a team that has become accustomed to losing.
Read the rest of this entry →

Orioles Finally Pull The Trigger And Hire Buck Showalter As Manager 32

Posted on July 29, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Buck Showalter will become the new manager of the Baltimore Orioles on August 3rd.

After two months under the guidance of interim manager Juan Samuel, the Baltimore Orioles finally have a permanent captain for their floundering ship with the hiring of Buck Showalter to take over the team beginning on August 3rd.

After hiring the interim manager to eventually be the permanent manager after each of the last two managerial firings, the former manager of the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers becomes the first Baltimore manager to be hired from outside the organization since Lee Mazzilli in 2004.

Showalter began his coaching career in the New York Yankees organization and became manager in 1992. He led the Yankees to the best record in the American League in the strike shortened 1994 season and in 1995 led them to the first wild card playoff berth.

Despite the success, a deteriorating relationship with Joe Torre led to his dismissal following the 1995 season. The Yankees went on to win the World Series in 1996 and again from 1998-2000. Read the rest of this entry →

Can The Baltimore Orioles Avoid A 100 Loss Season? 5

Posted on July 21, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Despite their struggles in 2010, the Orioles have won seven games in extra innings.

After finally becoming the last team to reach 30 victories in 2010 with a dramatic extra inning win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, the Baltimore Orioles can now set their sights toward continuing to improve over the final two and a half months of the season as they try to avoid a 100 loss season.

It might seem like a long-shot considering that they would have to win 33 of their final 69 games (.478) to accomplish that goal after playing at a .322 clip through the first 93 contests.

However, though victories have not been plentiful so far in 2010, the Orioles have shown an unusual fortitude for late game comebacks and that might be something they can build on over the final two months.

What the Orioles desperately need is a spark, both on and off the field.

If Andy MacPhail finally gets off his duff and brings in a new manager and Brian Roberts and Matt Wieters are able to get back to top form when they return from the disabled list, they could give Baltimore the push they need.

The rumor has been that Buck Showalter would be named the manager of the Orioles sometime before the end of July. Some speculation has been that MacPhail was waiting until after Roberts and Wieters returned to the lineup so Showalter could have his lineup at full strength.
Read the rest of this entry →

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