No other team in the AL East defined upstart like the 2012 Baltimore Orioles. Buck Showalter and the Birds’ uncanny ability to win one run and extra inning games defied the law of averages and in so doing elevated a division doormat to a door knocker. I recently was able to catch up with Birds Watcher Editor Domenic Vadala. Here’s how my Q&A went with him.
In your opinion, did the Orioles make enough changes in the offseason to help increase their chances to win in 2013?
The Orioles didn’t do much in terms of improving their roster due to the fact that teams would only trade with them if they offered prized prospects. However they do return the best bullpen in the bigs, and two 30+ home run per year guys (Davis and Jones) to the lineup, so I feel that they’re in a position to compete in 2013.
What/who have been your most surprising upsides and let downs during this spring training season?
The outfield depth in the form of Chris Dickerson, Trayvon Robinson, etc. have been great surprises. If anyone goes down in the outfield, the Orioles shouldn’t be in horrible shape. Chris Davis has looked strong at first base as well, which is something that should give Orioles fans some hope. In terms of letdowns, Nick Markakis‘ injury issues have been a bit concerning, but other than that the Birds appear to be in good shape.
Key injuries impact teams both on Opening Day and beyond. What injuries, both short-term and long-term, will most hamper the Orioles’ ability to be successful? Tough to say. The above-mentioned injury to Markakis, and some soreness on the part of starting pitcher Chris Tillman are worthy of concern, but those aren’t expected to hamper the Orioles. If Brian Roberts can stay healthy as well, the O’s should be in good shape.
What are the three keys to success for Baltimore to compete for an AL East title in 2013? It’s all about the pitching. As I said above, the O’s return two 30+ home run hitters to the lineup in 2013. If the starting pitching falls apart, they’re going to find themselves playing a lot of catch up. But if they can get and maintain leads, they’ll be in good shape.
Predict your AL East end of season standings and why.
On Birds Watcher we’re not predicting standings, and I won’t actually be coming out with my win total prediction until next Monday. However what I will say is that at the very least the Orioles will be in contention until the end of the season!
Hey Sox Fans: Get Hip! Chat It Up in the Bosox Injection Fan Room, free and available right now.