It's going to be a pretty similar evening for many of us tonight. Odds are you plan to dress up a little bit, meet up with some friends, head out to a party or local establishment, plop yourself down in front of Ryan Seacrest and count down to the new year while wearing some stupid-looking glasses and something glittery for some reason. But before any of that happens, you are going to have to tell someone about your resolutions that, in reality, you don't plan on keeping up with past February.
But let's pretend that we are all dedicated and disciplined people that will go to the gym four times a week or start eating healthier. Yeah! And the members of the Baltimore Orioles organization are right there with us...we hope.
There are a lot of things that the O's need to do a better job of in 2016 than they did in 2015. I'm going to touch on a couple here, but feel free to let me know what you think should be their resolution for the upcoming 366 days. (That's right. It's a leap year, baby!!!). The comments section is always open and you can find both me (@_TyYoung) and the blog (@CamdenChat) on Twitter.
So, without further adieu, here are my resolutions for the Baltimore Orioles in 2016:
Sort out the outfield situation
I know, I know. This is a pretty obvious one, but as the days go by it gets a bit more scary than the day before. The O's were fortunate to land a guy like Nelson Cruz prior to the 2014 season like they did. It is unlikely something like that will happen again. They have to act soon.
It seems as though the club may be just about to do this. As the rumors suggested the other day, the Orioles are one of the leaders for slugger Yoenis Cespedes. That's great, but it seems as though there is little to that at this point. In fact, one source told MASN's Roch Kubatko that there hasn't even been a contract proposal yet.
Over at Beyond the Box Score, they wondered why no one seems to want Cespedes. It's a fair question and one that has many possible reasons. How about how bad he was in the World Series? Or the fact that he has been traded so many times? Is something wrong with his personality? Or maybe because you would be buying high? He was probably better in 2015 than he is ever going to be again. There are a lot of question marks there.
But the team has signed Hyun-soo Kim, who looks to be the leader to start everyday in left field. And if it comes down to it, the recently-acquired Mark Trumbo could play in right field, although that is certainly going to make the defense out there a little more of an adventure.
Whatever the case, I think it is likely that vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette does something to address the holes around mainstay Adam Jones.
Kevin Gausman takes the next step to become of top-of-the-rotation arm
The hard-throwing righty took a bit of a step back in 2015. His major league ERA went from 3.57 in 2014 up to 4.25 last year. His FIP grew from 3.41 to 4.10. Goose did manage about one more strikeout per game and walked fewer batters but his home run to flyball rate shot through the roof from 5.8 percent a year ago to 13.4 this past summer.
He seems to have all of the goods to make him an elite pitcher in the league. Perhaps ditching the Rec Specs for Lasik surgery was a good move. But possibly the best change could be a fixated spot in Baltimore for the summer. No more travel to and from Norfolk or even Bowie. He needs to be an Oriole all year.
J.J. Hardy to find the fountain of youth and jump into it...a couple of times
The Gold Glove shortstop was difficult to watch in 2015. He looked to be in pain and it was revealed near the end of the season that he was playing through a torn labrum all year. Well, it certainly showed. He slumped to a slash line of .219/.253/.311 with eight home runs, 14 doubles and 37 RBI. Only his defense saved him from costing the Orioles wins over the length of the campaign.
Kobatko was quoted on MLB Trade Rumors saying that the O's regard Paul Janish has having a glove "at least on par" with Hardy. If that is true than J.J. may really be in trouble. Nothing against Janish, but he is a career journeyman to whom the Orioles didn't even tender a contract. Superstar Manny Machado is waiting in the wings to take over shortstop for the Birds. If Hardy doesn't bounce back, his time in Birdland may be limited, no matter how much of a clubhouse leader and Showalter favorite he may be.
Chris Tillman needs to regain some of his "ace" quality
Now, pump the breaks. I'm not saying Tillman is a stud, automatic-number-one-on-any-team-in-baseball-type of pitcher. But up until last year he was the guy that, when he pitched, it felt like the Orioles could win any game. Last year, it was the total opposite. In fact, of all the things wrong with the 2015 Baltimore Orioles, Tillman may have been the most disappointing. (OK, Bud Norris was pretty darn awful too.) His 4.99 ERA over 173 innings was not what a team with a mediocre starting staff needed.
Luckily, he ended the year pitching his best of the campaign, going 2-0 over his final five starts and lasting more than five innings each time out. That is all the Birds need out of him again, but over 30 starts, not five.
The organization did not go get any of the "Number 1's" on the free agent market. They never do. But if Tillman can give them 200 innings again (like he did in 2013 and 2014) and keep the offesne in the game then the hopefully stellar bullpen may be able to make up for not having a Cy Young contender on the roster.
Back to you
Those were a couple of the things that I personally really want to see the Orioles improve on in the upcoming season. What kinds of resolutions are you looking for? They can be for you in your life or for the Birds. Like I said before, let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@_TyYoung, @CamdenChat). Thanks for reading!