Orioles 25 Man Roster Breakdown

After four signings and two trades, the Orioles seem to be in a good place with their major league roster at this point heading into Spring Training.  Other than another pitcher or two, most of the spots on the 25 man roster have been filled, and only one spot remains on the 40 man roster.

Here is a piece by piece breakdown of how the 25 man roster will look like heading into Spring Training (as of 1/7/11):

Starting Pitchers:

Jeremy Guthrie

Brian Matusz

Jake Arrieta

Brad Bergesen

Chris Tillman

I have to believe that, barring a veteran signing, Chris Tillman will make the back end of our rotation coming out of ST.  The only way Zach Britton may steal that spot is if he can prove to Buck that he is 100% ready to handle the majors, but otherwise, I expect him to start out down in Norfolk for at least 15-20 starts heading into the season.  Other possible options for a fifth starter include Troy Patton, Rick VandenHurk, Jim Johnson, and Jason Berken.

Bullpen:

Jeremy Accardo

Jason Berken

Rick VandenHurk

Jim Johnson

Mike Gonzalez

Koji Uehara

Kevin Gregg

The Orioles have four guys signed on for their bullpen next season (Accardo, Gonzalez, Uehara, Gregg) who have at least 10 saves in a single season during their careers.  That stat alone is why I believe this team may surprise baseball this year with one of the most stable bullpens out there.  Not looking too much in depth at how each guy will be used, it is believed that a mix of Johnson, Gonzalez, Uehara, and Gregg will be used every night at the back of the bullpen (mixed in the 8th and 9th innings), with Berken and Accardo as middle inning relievers, and VandenHurk taking on the long relief spot vacated by Mark Hendrickson.  The one hole in the bullpen right now is the LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY).  Mike Gonzalez, the only LHP in the bullpen as of now, will make roughly $6 million next season, and that would be quite the sum of money for just a lefty specialist.  With Troy Patton (LHP) waiting in the wings at AAA last season, a few spots in this pen may be up in the air based on performance and injuries throughout Spring Training.

Catchers:

Matt Wieters

Jake Fox

Wieters is obviously the Orioles everyday catcher in 2011, and I believe the O’s will hold onto Jake Fox as the backup to begin the season.  Fox can also take over at 1B if necessary, along with the outfield corners when needed.  Craig Tatum is the only other option for the Orioles at this point, and the battle between him and Fox for the backup job should be interesting to watch in Sarasota.  If anyone remembers, Tatum is the guy who shocked us all last season by beating out Chad Moeller for the backup job.

Infielders:

Derrek Lee

Brian Roberts

J.J. Hardy

Mark Reynolds

Cesar Izturis

Brendan Harris

The starting infield is set (barring injury, especially concerning Brian Roberts).  Lee will be at 1B, Roberts at 2B, Hardy at SS, and Reynolds at 3B.  Izturis was signed on for one year as a utility middle infielder, so he is assured a spot.  The last spot up in the air is the second utility spot.  Brendan Harris came over from the Twins in the Hardy trade, while Robert Andino came to the club before the 2009 season in the Hayden Penn trade with the Marlins.  While Andino pulled off a .295 average (18/61) as a September callup under Buck in 2010, and also widening his range with six solid games at 3B, I am still inclined to give the spot to Harris.  Either way, the spot is totally up in the air right now, and will be one of the many intense battles to keep your eyes on during ST.

Outfielders:

Nick Markakis

Adam Jones

Felix Pie

Nolan Reimold

Right field – Nick Markakis.  Center field – Adam Jones.  Those two we know for sure.  And assuming Reimold doesn’t come out with a steady glove and hit .350 in Florida, the left field spot is purely Pie’s to lose (especially with Corey Patterson gone, signing in Toronto).  I have Reimold listed as the utility outfielder on the 2011 roster for two main reasons.  First, I believe Buck and the rest of the organization see more promise in him as a talent at this point than prospect Matt Angle, and I also think Reimold, even if he can’t achieve his 2009 numbers, can bounce back to at least an average of .250-.260.  Another plus with him is that he can fill in at 1B, a position that, at this point, none of the Orioles possible utility players can fill (last season, a mix of Garrett Atkins, Ty Wigginton, and a selection of minor leaguers manned that bag, none of which are left in our system).

Designated Hitter:

Luke Scott

Luke was impressive in 2010.  A line of .284/.368/.535 with 27 HRs and 72 RBIs put him in the midst of the slugging leaderboards in the American League.  Known as an  all-smiles, great personality and clubhouse type of guy, Luke adds a nice bat to the middle of the Birds lineup.  There was speculation that Luke could possibly platoon as the Orioles 1B if they couldn’t grab a free agent to play there, but with the signing of Derrek Lee for that full time job, Luke is locked in as the Orioles’ designated hitter for the 2011 season.  Let’s just hope he doesn’t pull another hamstring and have one of those Kirk Gibson moments again.

Let’s not forget guys like the Rule 5 Draft selection RHP Adrian Rosario and non roster invitee RHP Mitch Atkins, who could always make a surprising splash in Florida.

Any of these spots could change with new additions, and also with breakout performances and injuries on the way to Opening Day 2011 in Tampa Bay.  It would be a much more positive scenario if the team ends up with the problem of having too many guys healthy and ready to play as opposed to too few.

And to review the new coaching staff for 2011 while we’re at it:

Manager – Buck Showalter

Hitting Coach – Jim Presley (replacing Terry Crowley, now a hitting evaluator for the Orioles farm system)

Pitching Coach – Mark Connor (replacing Rick Kranitz, now the Brewers PC)

Bench Coach – Willie Randolph (replacing Jeff Dats, now the Mariners BC)

First Base Coach – Wayne Kirby (replacing John Shelby)

Third Base Coach – John Russell (replacing Gary Allenson, who goes back to managing the Norfolk Tides)

Bullpen Coach - Rick Adair (replacing Alan Dunn, now the Orioles’ Pitching Coordinator)

Bullpen Catcher – Ronnie Deck :)

Avi Miller is a graduating senior at Stevenson University aspiring to one day cover the MLB beat. A member of CoSIDA, Avi currently works in sports information at the NCAA Division III level and has previously held positions with the Baltimore Jewish Times and Fox Sports Radio.

10 Comments

  1. Dave

    January 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    You look at the re-tooled bullpen and infield, and you have to think the obvious weak spot is the starting rotation. I have never been a huge Guthrie fan, but I was looking at his numbers last year.

    He hit an inordinate 16 batters (the average O's starter hit 6). If he cut that down to 6 beanballs, his WHIP would've been 1.114! That would've lead the league in 1982, beating out Jim Palmer's 1.137.

    The Jeremy Guthrie Renaissance? I guess I'm on board.

    • @2131andBeyond

      January 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      Guthrie is a solid piece of our rotation and team as a whole. The second half of last season for him was magnificent to say the least (98 IP, 2.76 ERA, 62:16 K:BB), and if he can bring back that consistency next season, the Orioles may have an ace on their hands.

      The only reason that the rotation may be a weak spot is because of the unsure 5th spot. Guthrie, Matusz, Arrieta, AND Bergesen all at least had successful parts of last year, so for them to improve, they know what needs to be done. Not knowing if Tillman is ready yet will be a big point for this team to figure out in Spring Training.

    • Zach

      January 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm

      I've always been a Guthrie fan. I feel like when he gets in a groove he's a solid guy to have in the rotation.

  2. Sprintspeed

    January 8, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Great summary – bring on the spring.

    I think you forgot Willie Randolph as bench coach. Looking forward to the impact this new coaching staff will have —

    • @2131andBeyond

      January 8, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      Ah, indeed I did. The change has been made.

      I only hope that the new staff brings a more positive attitude and better baseball from this team.

  3. MGW

    January 8, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Well, at least it will be different. I thought the Os could vie for .500 last year but they fell well short. While I'm hopeful this year, I will temper my expectations and just hope for exciting baseball.

    • Willo

      January 8, 2011 at 9:58 am

      Sneaking up on some opponents is the BEST you can hope to achieve in 2011. Lets face it, in order for the O's to compete- their band of mis fits, has beens and never will be will ALL have to have career seasons and we know that ain't happening. Sixty-six wins last year…sorry to say perhaps 71-72 this year. That said, I 'll be there on Opening Day.

  4. Steve Sarasota

    January 8, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I don't undstand Harris's role – a second utility IF to backup for 3rd and 1st? I would keep both Fox and Tatum and let Fox backup 3rd, although I am not sure of his glove at 3rd?

  5. Doug in E.C.

    January 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Sign Vlad Guerrero. Put Luke in LF. Put Felix at 4th OF. Send Nolan to AAA to start the year and get playing time, confidence and a fire in his belly to get back to Baltimore to be one of Buck's nuggets. Get Izzy time at 3B, SS and 2B in the spring. Keep Fox and Tatum to start the year.

    Sign Brian Fuentes to complete the deepest bullpen in the MLB.

    Acquire Joe Blanton and Jonathan Singleton from the Phillies for Brandon Snyder, Steve Johnson and Harris or Andino. Then let Chris Tillman go down to AAA to rack up innings and experience.

    This team contends. If something goes wrong and we are not a serious contender come July 31st, other teams will be knocking down our doors for some of these guys.

    • Willo

      January 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      I LOVE the way that you think, but we are talking Peter A. and his shallow pockets. Vlad and Blanton- two nice additions and the cost is minimal. Can you get this memo to the O's brass? These guys take the O's from pretenders to semi-competitive in 2011.