JustAnotherYanksFan wrote:Orioles: Pretenders.
Much of the reason for their early-season success was their pitching. That was an illusion, and the pitching's already starting to collapse. And of course, Bedard's injury didn't help things any. But basically, they have a strong offense and a good bullpen, but I just don't think they have the starting pitching to really compete.
As much as they've been struggling, when you break down the team, there's really no reason why they shouldn't be winning. They have a tremendous offense (2nd in the MLB in runs). Their pitching rotation is really pretty decent (Johnson's very good, Musina's good, Pavano's average, Wang's average, and...well...I guess they need a fifth starter, but that's something that can be taken care of). Their back end of the bullpen is among the best in the league. Defense? Team chemistry? Well...those are definitely problems, but I just think that their team is strong enough to overcome those things. It might not be pretty, but I think they'll bludgeon their way to a good enough record that they'll compete with the Sox for the AL East title.
While Patterson has been cold, they have Aramis and Lee (and perhaps Huff) to anchor their lineup. And while their bullpen is suspect, I think their starting pitching should carry them. They have as good a chance at the wild card as anyone else.
They have some good bats in the middle of the lineup, but I don't think they have the pitching. Outside of Vazquez and Webb, I'm not all too impressed with their starting pitching, and their bullpen is extremely shaky. In a way, they're a very similar team to the Cubs - a solid offense anchored by a few strong bats in the center of the lineup, and a bad bullpen. The only difference is that the Cubs have Prior, Zambrano, (Wood), Maddux, Mitre and Rusch, while the D-Backs have Vazquez, Webb, Halsey, Estes, and an injured Russ Ortiz.
A little extra on the Cubs... their BP is stronger with Rusch in it, and a deal with TB to get Huff would most likely include Baez, who could flouish in the setup role for Dempster, who has been solid thus far.
I would also like to add...
Chi-Sox -- CONTENDER for postseason (obviously), CONTENDER for the AL crown. That pains me to say, but the Sox are that good.
Podsednik appears to have found his '03 form as his BB-to-K rate has bounced back to .811 instead of '04's .552. Iguchi appears to be a very solid player, and this offense revolves around having those two, plus Rowand, on base for the meat of the lineup.
A huge key for this team will be the Big Hurt's health. Everett, Dye and Pierzienski have been decent thus far, but none of them are hitting over .270. Joe Crede isn't going to help the matters, and they've been very fortunate... or clutch... to score those three guys at the top. If Thomas is health and can provide some legitimate protection for Konerko, this team will be able to mash.
Add in three solid
starters at the top and an above-average BP, and they look like they could make a legit run through the playoffs. No one's going to sleep on them with the best record in baseball, but no one seems to take them seriously, either.