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Saturday Bird Droppings: Projections reveal Orioles obvious needs

In today’s news: projections like Kremer, the backup situation at first base, and how the bullpen shakes out.

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

One of the more exciting days for the analytically-inclined amongst us arrived on Friday as FanGraphs published friend-of-the-site Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections for the 2023 Orioles.

Of course, projections are not guaranteed to come true, but they certainly are fun to read through. They also provide for a numbers-based look at the state of the current major league team, although the writer even admits where there are some outputs that don’t entirely jive with common thought.

An example of this is the Orioles bullpen, which is projected for a total of 3.5 zWAR. That accounts for some pretty serious negative regressions for the likes of Cionel Pérez and Dillon Tate among others. The system does like Félix Bautista, but it doesn’t exactly buy his ability to recreate the 2022 season.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Dean Kremer, who is projected to improve upon his breakout ‘22 campaign. This projection system gives him 3.6 zWAR, the highest of any Orioles starter, including Grayson Rodriguez (1.7 zWAR).

Another fun element of this annual post is a list of player comps for each of the guys on the roster, taking into consideration age and position. Adley Rutschman gets a Carlos Santana comp, Anthony Santander is compared to Jay Gibbons, and Grayson Rodriguez gets Josh Beckett. You remember early-career Beckett? Hoo, that would be a lot of fun!

My big takeaway from these projections is the same as my feelings on the Orioles offseason as a whole: They are missing a top-of-the-rotation arm. Perhaps that is still to come via trade, although my hopes dwindle with each passing day.

Something that feels even less likely is the addition of any outside position player of consequence. This team could use another bat, but at this point the smart money is on that bat coming from within the organization. One of the middle infield prospects could even break with the team for Opening Day, and Colton Cowser seems like a sure thing to make it to Baltimore sometime mid-year.


2023 ZiPS Projections: Baltimore Orioles | FanGraphs
Something that should not be ignored is that ZiPs loves the Orioles situations at catcher, third base, shortstop, and center field. Honestly, one top line pitcher, and an upgrade at one of the corner outfield spots feels like enough to push this team into the playoffs.

How Orioles could split time at first base |
There has been a lot of movement at first base this offseason, but the ultimate outcome seems rather unremarkable. Ryan Mountcastle is gonna be the guy most days. That probably means a few Sunday starts at the position for Adley Rutschman or James McCann, or maybe they give Santander a chance here or there. If Mountcastle gets hurt, there could be some problems, but that is the case for most teams when an everyday player goes down.

The Orioles have followed a careful plan, but history shows they’ll need to start taking risks | The Baltimore Banner
Yes! Those risks don’t have to come via free agency, but it’s apparent to everyone how talented this roster is and where the holes exist.

Looking at the makeup for the late innings in the O’s bullpen | Steve Melewski
There is going to be some turnover in the bullpen. That just seems to happen for every team every year. Relievers are volatile creatures. The good news is that the Orioles have built out a rather deep cavalcade of arms that should allow them to suppress any major disasters. The caveat is Bautista. He is the one that feels irreplaceable, so they will need to do whatever they can to ensure his success.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Dean Kremer turns 27. The right-handed pitcher is the last remaining player from the “haul” the Orioles got in the Manny Machado trade with the Dodgers back in 2018, and up until 2022 even his spot in the organization seemed precarious. But he broke out last season and now seems poised to return the rotation in 2023.
  • Kyle Hudson is 36 today. A fourth-round pick in 2008, Hudson would play just 14 major league games, all of which came with the 2011 Orioles.
  • Francisco Rodríguez celebrates his 41st today. One of the most prolific relievers of the early 2000s, K-Rod made his way to Baltimore at the 2013 trade deadline, tossing 22 innings for an Orioles team that came up short in their playoff push.
  • Ross Grimsley is 73 years old. The southpaw had two stints in Birdland, first from 1974 through ‘77 and then again for a portion of the 1982 campaign. All in, he had a 3.78 ERA over 907.2 total innings in an Orioles uniform.

This day in O’s history

January 7th is a sparse day in Orioles history, according to Baseball Reference. Instead, here are some other interesting things that have happened on this day in history beyond Birdland.

1894 - Thomas Edison develops a kinetoscopic film of a man sneezing, and that same day his employee, William Kennedy Dickson, gets a patent for motion picture film.

1927 - The first transatlantic commercial telephone service is created, sending calls from New York City to London.

1931 - The first trans-Tasman flight (from Australian to New Zealand) is flown by Guy Menzie. It takes 11 hours and 45 minutes.

1954 - The first public demonstration of machine translation takes place at the offices of IBM in New York. In an experiment developed between IBM and Georgetown University, the machine automatically translated Russian sentences into English.