In early December, the Baltimore Orioles traded away one of their top players in closer Jim Johnson. Johnson had led the American League in saves each of the last two years, racking up an impressive 101 saves during that span. Unfortunately for Johnson and the O’s, he also led the league in blown saves in 2013, with nine.
In return, Baltimore received 26-year-old second baseman Jemile Weeks from the Oakland Athletics. Weeks was the 12th overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft and played well during his 2011 rookie campaign. During that season, Weeks played in 97 games and batted .303 with 50 runs and 22 stolen bases. Since then, however, things haven’t gone as planned for Weeks.
2012 was a rough year for Weeks as he played in 118 games but batted only .221, and in 2013 Weeks batted .111 in only nine at-bats after spending almost all season in AAA Sacramento where he hit .271. Hopefully, for Baltimore, Weeks can regain his 2011 form where he hit .303 in the pros and .321 in AAA.
One question: Will Baltimore retain Brian Roberts for another year? Since signing his four-year deal, Roberts has dealt with a slew of injuries that have prevented him from spending time on the field. Roberts is a team leader and has been an Oriole his whole career, so it will be tough to imaging him going elsewhere, or potentially retiring. If not Roberts, then perhaps either Weeks or Ryan Flaherty will assume the role at second base.
The other question revolves around their closer role. Will they fill that spot internally with Tommy Hunter or Darren O’Day? Or will they look elsewhere?
Right now, it looks like Baltimore is in talks with closer Grant Balfour. Initially, the O’s offered Balfour a two year deal, but, according to the Boston Herald, have since upped it to three years plus an option at a lower average annual value.
One thing remains the same: The O’s need another big arm in their rotation. There have been talks about going after 37-year-old A.J. Burnett, but personally I would prefer more of a reliable pitcher.
With that, I would like to thank Johnson for the work he did in Baltimore and wish him the best out West.
The 2014 season is still a few months away, but if the O’s can fill those openings on their roster, they should be improving on their 2013.