I’ve been very cautious with my optimism about the Orioles 2012 start.  I haven’t used the ‘p’ word or even the ‘w c’ words, mostly because I know that there is still a lot of baseball to be played.

I watched this team in 2005 and I saw the Pittsburgh Pirates ride high last season only to finish at the bottom of the NL Central once again.  It can easily happen.

But my attitude is starting to change.  This team could very well be for real and I think the front office and the organization recognizes just how important it is to build around what they have.  This week rumors about the Orioles interest in veteran Roy Oswalt have hit the interwebs and a 6 year/$85.5 million contract extension for Adam Jones seems to be just moments away from being announced.

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian is admittedly “hopelessly biased” in his belief in the Orioles, but he backed up his stance with some strong points in a recent interview with 105.7 The Fan’s Bob Haynie.

“I think the Orioles are for real in every way and I think they are going to be in this thing, if not for the whole year, a really long time. When you have pitching this good and lead the league in homers, I am not saying this is the Giants of two years ago, but that is how the Giants won- with great starting pitching, certainly better than the Orioles have now, a good bullpen and basically nine guys in the order that can beat you with a home run. It looks like staying power to me.”

Kurkjian believes that a big part of the Orioles turnaround has been because of the leadership of manager Buck Showalter.  “He has changed the culture in a bunch of ways here,” Kurkjian said.  “We’ll see if they can keep it up, but he is clearly the Manager of the Year now in the major leagues, not just in the American League.”

Quotes from MASNSports.com’s Steve Melewski.