On Tuesday, the Baltimore Orioles released their new uniforms which have them bringing back the cartoon Oriole. While that’s all fine and good, I’m more concerned about the product on the field. They can wear the 1980’s Houston Astros’ jerseys for all I care if they start winning, but with Dan Duquette in charge (I hope) things might get better. With free agency in full swing, let’s take a look at Baltimore’s outfield to see what needs to be done there.Right field is locked down with Nick Markakis, who won his first Gold Glove in 2011. Markakis finished the 2011 season hitting .284 with 15 home runs and 73 runs batted in. He also chipped in with 72 runs and 12 stolen bases. He is signed through the 2014 season with an option for 2015, so we are good there. Barring any crazy trade, Markakis will be hanging out in right field in Camden Yards for the next few years.
Center field is also good to go with Adam Jones. Jones was arguably the Orioles’ most valuable player in 2011 as he hit .280 with 25 home runs and 83 RBI. Jonesy plays an amazing center field, and always works hard. As it stands right now, Jones won’t become a free agent until 2014, and I’m hopeful Baltimore will do what they can to keep him around.
Left field is a slight mystery. Currently, Nolan Reimold is their starting left fielder, but that’s mainly because Luke Scott missed the majority of the season due to injury.
Reimold hit .247 on the year with 13 home runs and 45 RBI, but he had a great September, hitting .281 with five home runs and 17 RBI. Luke Scott is a free agent, so it remains to be seen if he will be signed again. As much of a fan favorite as he is, I think he’s an unlikely Oriole in 2012.
Rumors are swirling around about possibly bringing in Josh Willingham (A’s) or Jason Kubel (Twins) to play left. I hope they don’t go for that. Willingham and Kubel are decent outfielders, but it’s not like they will really help the team improve that much. I hope the Orioles will actually let Reimold have his shot in left this year and see what he can do. This year’s free agent class in the outfield is very weak—the Orioles should stand pat and put the money to use in other areas, like say, I don’t know, like starting pitching.
All in all, the outfield seems set to me. If they can bring back Scott with a short-term deal, that might not be a bad solution. He can DH and replace the overpriced Vladimir Guerrero. Here’s hoping whoever the Orioles sign, he won’t be some over-the-hill slugger to help fill a few extra few seats—e.g. Albert Belle, Sammy Sosa, Vlad. The front office needs to concentrate on improving the team for the future.
by Andy Mindzak