The Orioles kicked off spring training this past week, but the biggest news out of Birdland has to be the contract extension of second basemen Brian Roberts. Keeping Roberts in Baltimore is a great move by Orioles executive Andy MacPhail, who has continued to stay the course on his rebuilding plan. The team now has at least four position players locked up for several seasons, who figure to be prominent contributors. Along with Roberts, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and the mega-talented catcher Matt Weiters will be in the lineup day in and day out, bringing stability to a franchise that lost its way some years ago.

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Locking up these fan favorites like Roberts and Markakis should help the Orioles attendance that has been descending over the last decade, and it also signals a new era of baseball in the city. No longer do we have to listen about Daniel Cabrera’s potential, Sammy Sosa, B-12 shots, Tejada trade rumors, or dare I say it Jay Gibbons. Fans can now return to Camden yards knowing they’re players are clean, locked up for the long term and that they want to be Orioles. Biggest of all is that they are here to play ball and win as a team. Manager Dave Trembley will have them playing fundamental baseball, with sound defense, a pretty strong bullpen and a team approach at the plate.

Nobody is predicting that the O’s will even avoid finishing in last place in the AL East. The Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays are all much better on paper. However this season should be exciting for true Oriole fans for the simple reason that we are going to have the opportunity to watch these players grow over 162 games and form a core of Orioles for some years to come. Mr. MacPhail has done pretty well so far, putting together talent in the lineup. If Weiters turns into the Joe Mauer type player he is expected to be then his job gets that much easier. Now all he has to do is find some reliable starting pitching. Don’t get too crazy about your expectations this season, but enjoy the young O’s this year, because they are our building blocks for the future.