Looking to 2010: Pitching

Troy Patton, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, Jake Arrieta, and David Hernandez will all be in the running for the 2010 rotation.

 

The Orioles young pitchers are the talk of not only the Baltimore Orioles community, but of the baseball community at large. If even a few of the team's prospects pan out and Andy MacPhail can build a competent offense, the Orioles will be competitive in the AL East soon enough. Most people put that date at 2011, with 2010 being a year of real development.

The current 2009 rotation is Jeremy Guthrie, David Hernandez, Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, and Jason Berken, with Brad Bergesen and Koji Uehara on the DL. It continues to boggle my mind that if not for Jeremy Guthrie the rotation would be made up entirely of rookies, and rookies that aren't half bad.

It reasons to think that there will be stiff competition for the 2010 rotation, competition that includes all seven pitchers listed above as well as Jake Arrieta, Troy Patton, and any pitchers the Orioles pick up in the off season. Compare that list to the competition for the 2009 rotation: Danys Baez, Brian Bass, Jeremy Guthrie, Mark Hendrickson, Rich Hill, David Pauley, Hayden Penn, Alfredo Simon, Koji Uehara, and Chris Waters. My, how times have changed.

One thing is sure no matter how the rotation shakes out: they're going to be young. Of the current pitchers in the Orioles system who will be competing for a starting job, only Jeremy Guthrie (31) and Koji Uehara (35) will be over the age of 26. Guthrie has a good chance of making the rotation but it seems the writing is on the wall that Koji will end up in the bullpen barring a meltdown by the youngsters.

I've heard Dave Trembley say that a goal for the off season is to obtain another starting pitcher. I can't imagine he'd say that without having first discussed it with Andy MacPhail, so I think it's safe to assume that's one thing he'll be trying to do before Opening Day 2010.  In all likelihood they will look for a pitcher with experience to act as an anchor and mentor to the young staff. I think they hoped that Jeremy Guthrie would be able to handle such a task but his performance so far this year isn't filling anyone with confidence.

As for the bullpen, I think the most important thing to keep the bullpen effective is for the Orioles go have starters who can go deeper into games. Currently the Orioles starting pitchers are averaging less than 5 1/2 innings per game and wearing out the bullpen. Obviously there are many factors at play, but there is certainly a correlation between the effectiveness of the bullpen early in the year when they were fresh and well rested to the troubles they are having now. The Orioles will lose Mark Hendrickson and Danyz Baez for certain, any other changes I'm unconcerned with. The days of the Orioles signing multiple high dollar relievers is over, a good thing given the volatile nature of relievers from year to year. Probably the only interesting story regarding the bullpen going into 2010 will be who is named closer.

So, back to starters. Andy does love his trades, but since I have neither the talent for thinking up trades nor the inclination to even try, instead let's just take a look at the upcoming free agents. The list is below the jump.

First, the guys I think shouldn't get within 100 miles of the Baltimore Orioles: Brandon Backe, Miguel Batista, Bartolo Colon, Jose Contreras, Tom Glavine, Mike Hampton, Livan Hernandez, Randy Johnson, Jason Marquis, Kevin Millwood, Brian Moehler, Brett Myers, Vicente Padilla, Carl Pavano, Brad Penny, Odalis Perez, Andy Pettitte (although if he was on the Orioles he at least couldn't kick their asses a couple times a year), Joel Pineiro, Jason Schmidt, Jarrod Washburn, Todd Wellemeyer, Tim Wakefield, Randy Wolf. And the special, all ex-Orioles list of free agents: Daniel Cabrera, Adam Eaton, Rodrigo Lopez, Sidney Ponson. As for the rest (type A indicated in parentheses next to their name):

Name Age in 2010 Comments
Josh Beckett (A) 30 His option will surely be picked up by the Red Sox, and I can't imagine him coming to the Orioles anyway. But I'd take that hemp necklaced douche bag on my team anytime.
Erik Bedard 31 I spent most of the year imagining him coming back to the O's in 2010, but he's out for the rest of the season as he has exploratory shoulder surgery. It depends on what they find and how cheap he is, but I could still be interested.
Justin Duchscherer 31 He had an awesome year as a starter in 2008 but hasn't pitched at all this year after having elbow surgery in the spring. 
Kelvim Escobar 34 He's only pitched one game this year and probably won't be back. When he's good, he's very good, but he's had shoulder problems for a couple years now.
Rich Harden (A) 28 He's having a down year in Chicago, but he's young and he's good. I like him.
Tim Hudson 33 Another good pitcher coming off of injury. He's currently rehabbing his elbow and hoping to return before the end of the year.
John Lackey (A) 31 Easily a top 5 finalist in the most hideous player in baseball competition, but also a good pitcher who can put in the innings. Can't really imagine him coming to the Orioles.
Cliff Lee (A) 31 I can't imagine the Phillies won't pick up his option, but even if they didn't he'd be snapped up the the Red Sox or Yankees or someone other than the Orioles.
Doug Davis 34 Davis is just average, but he's been around the block. He'd probably get lit up in the AL East though.
Jon Garland 30 It's hard to believe he'll just be 30 next year, it seems like he's been around forever. I'm pretty sure we already have a Jon Garland on the Orioles. They even have the same initials!
Braden Looper 35 After looking at his numbers I realized I should have put this guy on the "not within 100 miles of the O's" list but the fact is you can't edit the number of rows once you create a table and it'd be too much of a hassle to take him off this list.
Brandon Webb (A) 31 Webb was thought to have the dreaded Fabrum Bear, but turns out it was much less serious. The surgery ended up being more of a clean up than anything. He won't pitch this year and will be a risk. He also has an option by the D-Backs that will probably be picked up unless they are scared off by the surgery.
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