Category Archives: Baltimore Orioles

Biggest weakness for every MLB team

Arizona Diamondbacks – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

The Diamondbacks were decent at the catcher position last season, but they let starter Chris Iannetta leave in free agency. However, the Diamondbacks are seriously struggling at the catcher position in 2018. Jeff Mathis is a good defensive catcher, yet he is only hitting .182 with no home runs this season. The Diamondbacks also have Alex Avila at the position and he has been even worse while batting .148 this season. It is hard to find good offensive catchers these days, but Arizona needs much better production than what they are getting right now.

Atlanta Braves – Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

The Braves have a really good starting rotation, but issues arise when they have had to call upon their bullpen this season. Arodys Vizcaino has been terrific as the team’s closer, but the rest of the bullpen has been very inconsistent. Shane Carle, A.J. Minter, and Dan Winkler have been good at times. However, none of those guys have been the reliable relief pitchers that Atlanta needs. If Atlanta is going to make the playoffs this year, then they need to find some better late-inning options in the bullpen.

Baltimore Orioles – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Baltimore has been terrible in many different aspects, but starting pitching stands out as being the worst of it all. Dylan Bundy has been the best starter for the Orioles, but even he only has an average 4.08 ERA this season. Kevin Gausman has been decent as well with a 4.11 ERA, but he has been inconsistent as well. The rest of the rotation though has been completely awful as the offseason free agent signings of Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb have just made the rotation worse. Also, Daniel Hess and Chris Tillman both have absolutely terrible ERA’s as well. Baltimore has had terrible starting pitching for years, yet it might actually be worse than ever this season.

Boston Red Sox – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Sandy Leon performed well offensively in 2017, but he has regressed so far this season as he has become the weakness of the Red Sox lineup. Leon still hasn’t been terrible, yet he is only averaging .252 with 4 home runs in 2018. Meanwhile, Christian Vazquez has been even worse offensively for Boston. Vazquez is hitting .213 with 3 home runs in 2018 despite getting even more at-bats than Leon. Boston has enough in their lineup to make up for the lack of production at the catcher position, although they will need more if the Red Sox really want to reach their full potential.

Chicago Cubs – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Jon Lester has been outstanding for the Cubs this year as he has a 2.45 ERA. However, the rest of the starting rotation for Chicago hasn’t been nearly as good. Mike Montgomery has been decent as a 5th starter for the Cubs, but they need much more from the other pitchers. Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood, and Yu Darvish have all underachieved this season. The Cubs are still a probable playoff team, but if the Cubs want to make a deep playoff run then they’ll need much more from their starting pitching.

Chicago White Sox – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Reynaldo Lopez has been the lone bright spot in the White Sox starting rotation as leads the White Sox starters with a 3.77 ERA. However, the rest of the White Sox starting pitchers have been disastrous to say the least. James Shields, Dylan Covey, Lucas Giolito, and Carson Fulmer all have been really awful. Giolito and Fulmer are still big parts of the rotation for the future, yet Chicago needs much better starting pitching if they ever want to be relevant again.

Cincinnati Reds – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Tyler Mahle has been outstanding with a 3.66 ERA this season and Matt Harvey has been good for the Reds as well with a 3.79 ERA in 11 starts for the team. However, the rest of the rotation hasn’t been good at all. Sal Romano, Luis Castillo, and Homer Bailey all have an ERA 5.28 or less this season. The good news is that the Reds have a very good offense, but they will need much better starting pitching if they want to compete anytime soon.

Cleveland Indians – Biggest Weakness: Center Field

Bradley Zimmer and Greg Allen have both split time in center field for Cleveland this season, but the issue is that neither of them have been productive offensively. Zimmer is hitting only .226 with 2 home runs this season. However, Greg Allen has been even worse as he is a .208 hitter with just 1 home run. Cleveland might need to consider adding a center fielder at the trade deadline since they are getting terrible production from the position right now.

Colorado Rockies – Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

Colorado made some major changes to their bullpen this past offseason, but it has only seemingly made that unit even worse than last season. Adam Ottavino has been terrific and Scott Oberg has been good as well, but the rest of the bullpen has been terrible. Wade Davis was supposed to be an elite closer for the Rockies, but he instead has a mediocre 4.04 ERA this season. Also, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, Chris Rusin, and Mike Dunn have all been awful this season. The Rockies have some proven relief pitchers, yet for whatever reason they just haven’t been able to produce this season.

Detroit Tigers – Biggest Weakness: Designated Hitter

Victor Martinez has had a terrific career, but at this point he is nothing more than a mentor for the young players on the Tigers team as he finishes out his likely final MLB season. Martinez certainly isn’t the player that he once was as he is currently 39 years old and he hasn’t been a good hitter at all. Martinez is hitting .240 with just 4 home runs for Detroit this season despite making $18 million in salary. Those aren’t great stats especially for a designated hitter that is supposed to help carry the Tigers offense.

Houston Astros – Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

The Astros are a world series contender once again this season, but they certainly don’t have a bullpen worthy of that distinction. Ken Giles was supposed to be the closer this season, but he has been awful with a 4.11 ERA. Will Harris is another late-inning option for the Astros that has really struggled this year as well. Joe Smith has been the worst of all with a 4.70 ERA in 2018 for Houston. Hector Rondon, Tony Sipp, and Chris Devenski have been the reliable relief pitchers for the Astros. However, that isn’t exactly an inspiring group of relievers especially for a team that could make a deep playoff run. Either way, Houston needs to make it their priority to find some much better late-inning bullpen options at the trade deadline.

Kansas City Royals – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitcher

It’s never a good sign when a pitcher that has been in the bullpen for most of his career is the best starting pitcher that the team has. However, that is the case with the Royals as Brad Keller has basically been the ace of the Royals rotation with a 2.82 ERA in 7 starts this year. Veteran Pitchers Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, and Jason Hammel were supposed to carry the starting rotation for Kansas City this season. However, all three of those guys have an ERA of 4.89 or lower. Meanwhile, Jakob Junis had a terrific start to the season, but he has been absolutely recently. The Royals need to find some better young starting pitchers or else their rotation might be bad for awhile.

Los Angeles Angels – Biggest Weakness: 2nd Base

Ian Kinsler was acquired by the Angels in order to be a major upgrade at the 2nd base position, but he has performed probably even worse than what the team had before. Kinsler has dealt with some injuries this year and that might be a contributing factor to his poor performance, but there is no excusing his .213 batting average. Kinsler has been a major weakness in the Angels lineup and he is holding them back from reaching their full potential.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Biggest Weakness: 2nd Base

The 2nd base position has been somewhat of revolving door as they really haven’t had a clear starter at the position. Logan Forsythe has been the starter for most of the season at 2nd base, although he has been absolutely awful offensively. Forsythe is hitting only .199 this season with just 2 home runs for the Dodgers. Veteran 2nd baseman Chase Utley hasn’t been much better as he is only hitting .227 with 1 home run this year. Either way, the 2nd base position has been a major weakness for the Dodgers and it is something that needs to be fixed soon.

Miami Marlins – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Miami hasn’t really had a clear ace of their starting rotation since the death of Jose Fernandez and they still don’t have one. Jose Urena has been the best Marlins starter this season, although he only has an average 4.13 ERA. Caleb Smith has been decent as well, but the rest of the rotation hasn’t been good at all. Dan Straily has really underachieved this season as he was supposed to be the ace of the rotation. Also, Trevor Richards and Wei-Yin Chen have been absolutely awful this season. Miami has some decent players in their lineup, but they need to find some better starting pitchers soon.

Milwaukee Brewers – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

The Brewers have used four different catchers this season, but the problem is that none of them have been good. Manny Pina has seen the most action at catcher for the Brewers, yet he is hitting just .227 with 16 RBI’s in 2018. Also, backup catcher Erik Kratz has been even worse with a .210 batting average and 6 RBI’s. Milwaukee has a good lineup otherwise, but they need to find some help at the catcher position if they want to make a deep playoff run.

Minnesota Twins – Biggest Weakness: Designated Hitter

Minnesota added Logan Morrison this offseason as they were hoping to add some power to their lineup. Morrison has accomplished that to some extent as he has hit 10 home runs this year, but the issue is that he hasn’t hit much of anything else. Morrison is batting just .193 for Minnesota this season and that just isn’t good enough. The designated hitter position is supposed to have a player that is a good hitter, but Morrison hasn’t lived up to expectations for the Twins.

New York Mets – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

The New York Mets had a big void at the catcher position which is why they acquired Devin Mesoraco early in the year from the Cincinnati Reds. However, Mesoraco hasn’t exactly been the solution at catcher as he is hitting just .232 with 18 RBI’s this season. Also, his backup Kevin Plawecki has been even worse as he is hitting .217 with just one home run for the Mets this year. The Mets have struggled mightily offensively this season and the catcher position has been a major source of those issues.

New York Yankees – Biggest Weakness: 1st Base

1st Base has been a revolving door for the Yankees this season as they have started a few different players at the position. They started out with Tyler Austin at 1st base, although he hit just .223 before being demoted to Triple-A. Meanwhile, Greg Bird has provided some power with 6 home runs, but he is only hitting .207 this year. The Yankees have even put Neil Walker at 1st base a lot and that has been disastrous as he is only hitting .197 with 2 home runs this season. The rest of the Yankees lineup is really good, but they need to find somebody that can produce more at 1st base.

Oakland Athletics – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Jonathan Lucroy was once an all-star caliber catcher in the MLB, but he hasn’t really been an average catcher for the Athletics this season. Lucroy is hitting just .245 with 1 home run for Oakland in 2018. His backup Josh Phegley has been worse as he is batting just .219 with 2 home runs for the Athletics this year. Oakland really needs to find a new starting catcher because the position has just not been good this season.

Philadelphia Phillies – Biggest Weakness: Shortstop

Scott Kingery was an elite prospect coming into this season for Philadelphia and there were high expectations for him as the starting shortstop. However, Kingery has failed to live up to expectations as he is hitting just .229 with 4 home runs this season. Pedro Florimon has been better in his limited time at shortstop as he is batting .263 with 2 home runs this year. The Phillies have been rumored to be interested in Manny Machado and they could really use him at this point because they are really struggling at shortstop.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Biggest Weakness: Shortstop

Jordy Mercer is just an average shortstop and he probably always will be, but he especially hasn’t provided much offense this season. Mercer is hitting just .242 with 5 home runs for Pittsburgh as he has basically been the everyday player at that position. The Pirates need to finally find an upgrade at the position because Mercer isn’t worthy of being their starting shortstop.

San Diego Padres – Biggest Weakness: Shortstop

Freddy Galvis is certainly known for his defense and that is probably the only reason that he remains a starting shortstop at the MLB level. However, he has been a liability offensively for the Padres this season as he is batting just .234 with 4 home runs. Galvis makes the Padres a better team defensively, although the team needs to find a shortstop that can provide much more on offense.

San Francisco Giants – Biggest Weakness: Left Field

Hunter Pence was once an all-star caliber player, but his performance has really dropped off this season. He is hitting just .208 with no home runs in 2018 for the Giants as he has been a major liability in their offense. Gregor Blanco has also seen some time in left field for the Giants, but he hasn’t been much better as he is hitting just .242 with 1 home run. The Giants need to find more production from that position especially if they want to remain in the playoff race.

Seattle Mariners – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Mike Zunino has spent quite a bit of time on the disabled list this season, but he hasn’t even been productive when he has been healthy. Zunino has provided great power as proven by his 12 home runs, but the problem is that he doesn’t do much else on offense. Zunino strikes out way too much and he is only hitting .189 so far this year for the Mariners. David Freitas and Chris Herrmann are the other catchers on the roster right now, but they haven’t been any better. Freitas is hitting just .194 with no home runs while Herrmann is batting .222 with 1 home run this year. The Mariners have a good lineup otherwise, yet the catcher position could hold them back if they make the playoffs.

St. Louis Cardinals – Biggest Weakness: 2nd Base

Kolten Wong has basically been the everyday starter at 2nd base, but he hasn’t exactly proved that he is deserving of being the starter. Wong is hitting just .221 with 7 home runs for the Cardinals this season as he has been the weakest part of their lineup. The Cardinals need to find an upgrade at that position especially if they want to compete with the Brewers and Cubs in the NL central.

Tampa Bay Rays – Biggest Weakness: Right Field

Carlos Gomez was once a terrific starter at the MLB level and that is the main reason the Rays signed him to see if he can provide that type of play to the team. However, it hasn’t quite worked out that way so far as he is batting just .206 with 7 home runs this year. Gomez has been the everyday starter in right field, but the Rays need to find an upgrade at that position since it is holding the lineup back.

Texas Rangers – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Robinson Chirinos has basically been the everyday catcher for the Rangers this season and he has provided some good power with 11 home runs. However, he has struggled to make contact as proven by his .204 batting average this year. The Rangers have been so bad at the position that they have utility infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa as the backup catcher. Texas needs to find an upgrade at the position because that duo just doesn’t provide the offense necessary to help out their lineup.

Toronto Blue Jays – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Russell Martin was once an all-star catcher, but he has not been good the past couple of seasons for the Blue Jays. He still provides some power as he has 6 home runs this season, but he is only hitting .173 so far in 2018. Backup catcher Luke Maile has been better, although he is still only hitting .234 with 3 home runs. Russell Martin isn’t the player that he once was and it is about time for Toronto to find an upgrade at the position.

Washington Nationals – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Matt Wieters wasn’t performing well as the starting catcher for the Nationals as he was hitting just .232 for the team before getting injured. His injury just weakened what was an already bad group of catchers. Pedro Severino has seen the most playing time since the injury, although he has been awful as he is batting just .171 with 2 home runs. Backup catcher Spencer Kieboom has been somewhat better, yet he is still only hitting .222 with no home runs. Washington is likely in the market for a catcher at the trade deadline and they really need to find at least an average catcher to help improve their lineup.

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Best trade asset for each potential seller teams at the MLB trade deadline

Baltimore Orioles – Manny Machado – Shortstop

This one is really easy because Machado is by far the best player on the Orioles and he is also the most likely player to be traded since his contract expires after this season. Machado is still really young as he is only about to turn 26 years old and that means it will take a huge haul to acquire Machado from the Orioles. It is somewhat unlikely that the Orioles will be able to re-sign Machado since it would take a huge contract offer to be able to do so. However, the Orioles could get some elite prospects in return if they do decide to trade Machado before the deadline.

Chicago White Sox – Jose Abreu – 1st baseman

Jose Abreu is by far the best available trade bait that the White Sox have as he is one of the players at 1st base in the MLB. However, the question will be whether the White Sox are in a rush to trade him. He is under contract through the 2019 season, so theoretically the White Sox could stay patient and wait for the right deal to take place. Abreu is 31 years old and doesn’t appear to be too much part of the White Sox future. However, the White Sox might not trade him at the deadline since they really have until the 2019 trade deadline to make a decision.

Cincinnati Reds – Raisel Iglesias – Relief Pitcher

Raisel Iglesias has quietly become one of the top closers in the entire MLB and there aren’t many closers available via trade this season. There will certainly be many contending teams that acquire about Iglesias, but the Reds do have the ability to wait for the right deal to come around. Iglesias is under contract through the 2020 season and he is only due $5 million each season, so the Reds don’t have to rush to trade him. Iglesias might not get traded very soon because the asking price will probably be too steep for many teams. However, if a team offers some top prospects then that could be enough to get a deal done.

Detroit Tigers – Nick Castellanos – Right Fielder

The Tigers have a couple of pieces that are more likely to be traded like Francisco Liriano and Matthew Boyd. However, the player that could get the most in return is probably right fielder Nick Castellanos. He is under contract at a cheap price through the 2020 season which means the Tigers could decide to keep him. Also, he is only 26 years old, so he could still be a key part of their future when the team can contend again. The Tigers need to decide soon whether Castellanos is going to be a key part of their future or if he is a player that they can trade while his value is still high. Castellanos could be traded soon, but in all likelihood it will come at a later point.

Kansas City Royals – Mike Moustakas – 3rd Baseman

Mike Moustakas is one of the few reliable players in the Royals lineup, but the problem is that Moustakas is going to be a free agent once again after this season. Kansas City almost lost Moustakas in free agency for nothing this past offseason before he decided to re-sign on a relatively cheap deal. There is no doubt that Moustakas could help a playoff contender this season, but the problem is there isn’t much of a market for starting 3rd basemen right now. The Royals probably wouldn’t get a top prospect in return especially since Moustakas will probably just be a rental player for a playoff team. However, it would be shocking if the Royals don’t trade him by the deadline since they will likely lose him for nothing if they don’t.

Miami Marlins – J.T. Realmuto – Catcher

It is really tough to find all-star caliber catchers available for trade and the Marlins are very fortunate to have one that they are willing to trade. J.T. Realmuto is one of the top catchers in the MLB and he is arguably the best offensive catcher in the MLB. There are plenty of MLB teams that have a bad need for a catcher and Realmuto would be a major upgrade for many teams at that position. He is still under team control through the 2020 season, so the Marlins don’t have to rush to trade him this season. If they decide to trade him, then they could get some really good prospects in return since there is a shortage of really good catchers in the MLB. The Marlins should just wait for the right deal, but don’t be surprised if they charge a steep price for Realmuto.

New York Mets – Jacob DeGrom – Starting Pitcher

Jacob DeGrom is one of the elite starting pitchers in the MLB and he is still under team control at a cheap price through the 2020 season. The Mets could very well decide to keep him as he is an extremely valuable piece of their team. However, DeGrom’s value is probably as high as it will ever be and the Mets could get at least two elite prospects in return for him. It is unlikely that New York will trade him before the deadline unless the team receives an offer that blows them away. However, it would make sense for the Mets to trade him soon in order to replenish their farm system.

Oakland Athletics – Jed Lowrie – 2nd Baseman

Perhaps no player has had their trade value increase this season more than Oakland 2nd baseman Jed Lowrie. He has always been an above average player, but this season he has taken his game to an all-star caliber level. Also, he probably isn’t part of the Athletics future since he is 34 years old. The Athletics would be very wise to trade him before the deadline while his value is still high especially since Oakland might lose him for nothing after this season in free agency. The Athletics could probably get a top prospect in return for Lowrie, but that might not be the case since he will likely just be a rental for a playoff contender.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Josh Harrison – 2nd Baseman

It is kind of surprising that the Pirates haven’t traded Harrison by now considering that rumors have been swirling around him for awhile. Harrison is still under two more years of team control, but the question is whether the Pirates really want to keep him around for that long. Harrison probably won’t bring back too big of a haul, but he is still valuable considering that he can play several positions as a utility player. The Pirates could stay patient and wait for the right trade, although it seems as if Pittsburgh is willing to trade him very soon.

San Diego Padres – Brad Hand – Relief Pitcher

Not many teams even wanted to sign Brad Hand not too long ago as he was claimed off of waivers by the Padres just two years ago. However, San Diego has completely revived Hand’s career and now he has become one of the best closers in the MLB. Hand is under contract with the Padres through the 2021 season, so the team is in absolutely no rush to trade him. It would likely take a big trade package consisting of top prospects for the Padres to even consider trading Hand. However, there is no questioning that there will be many teams interested in acquiring Hand since there aren’t many elite closers available on the trade market.

Tampa Bay Rays – Wilson Ramos – Catcher

Wilson Ramos has become an all-star level catcher in the MLB as he provides rare offensive abilities for someone of his position. However, the Rays will likely have to trade him away before the deadline considering that he is a free agent after this season. The Rays also appear to like Jesus Sucre to replace Ramos as their catcher of the future, so it appears that a trade involving Ramos could be imminent. The good news is that several teams have a major need for a good starting catcher and it helps that Ramos is basically an all-star player at that position. Tampa Bay does lose some value since Ramos is likely going to be just a rental for a playoff contender, yet they could still get some good prospects in return.

Texas Rangers – Adrian Beltre – 3rd Baseman

Adrian Beltre is really old at 39 years old, yet he continues to play at a really high level despite his age. Beltre is going to be a free agent after this season and it is sort of unlikely that Texas is willing to re-sign him considering his age. However, Beltre still has some good trade value and the Rangers could get a couple of solid prospects back in return.

Toronto Blue Jays – J.A. Happ – Starting Pitcher

It would be kind of shocking if the Blue Jays don’t trade away Happ before the deadline since he is 35 years old and he is scheduled to be a free agent after the season. The good news is that there are plenty of teams that are already reportedly interested in Happ. He has had a terrific 2018 season and he could provide some solid depth to basically any playoff contender’s starting rotation. He is likely just a rental player for a contender and that will likely diminish his trade value, yet the Blue Jays could still get a lot in return for him.

2018 AL East Predictions

  1. Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox were quiet for most of the offseason until they finally jumped into free agency in a big way by signing power hitter J.D. Martinez. Boston already had a terrific pitching staff led by Chris Sale, David Price, Drew Pomeranz, and Rick Porcello. Also, they have a very good bullpen led by elite closer Craig Kimbrel. Boston also had a very talented lineup already with players like Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Hanley Ramirez, and Dustin Pedroia. Adding J.D. Martinez to the mix gives the team the power bat in the middle of their lineup that they desperately needed. Boston has won the AL East two years in a row and they are a stronger team than they were a year ago. The Yankees will certainly give the Red Sox some tough competition this season, but it is difficult to find a weakness on Boston’s team and they are still the team to beat in the AL East.

 

2. New York Yankees

The New York Yankees made it to the ALCS last season, but they actually appear to be a more dangerous team this season especially after the addition of 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. He hit 59 home runs for the Marlins last season and he will form a dynamic duo with Aaron Judge who hit 52 home runs for the Yankees in 2017. New York also has catcher Gary Sanchez who has proven that he can be an elite power hitter as well. The Yankees also appear to have a really good pitching staff heading into the 2018 season. They have a terrific bullpen with Aroldis Chapman as the closer and Dellin Betances and David Robertson as very reliable late-inning options as well. New York also has a good starting rotation with Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, and CC Sabathia. The only real concern for the Yankees is at 2nd base and 1st base. Ronald Torreyes and Gleyber Torres will compete for the starting 2nd base job, but they are both inexperienced players and it is unknown what they can provide in 2018. 1st Base is clearly the biggest area of weakness for the Yankees as Greg Bird struggled last season. Bird is the clear starter at 1st base, but he needs to bounce back in 2018 in order to help the Yankees lineup reach its full potential. New York is definitely a playoff-caliber team and they will compete with the Red Sox for the division, but the Yankees still have a few weaknesses that hold them back a little bit.

3. Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are a team that has playoff potential, but they also have the potential to be a completely bad team in 2018. Josh Donaldson will obviously carry the Blue Jays lineup this season assuming that he can stay healthy. Justin Smoak will also probably provide some solid power in the middle of the lineup for the Blue Jays. However, it is unknown what the rest of the lineup will provide. Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin are proven MLB players, but they have struggled with injuries and inconsistent play recently. Curtis Granderson and Randal Grichuk are the new starting outfielders for the Blue Jays after being acquired by Toronto this offseason. However, it is a mystery as to how much they will provide to the Blue Jays lineup. Toronto’s pitching staff appears to be the strength of their team as they have a good starting rotation led by Marcus Stroman and J.A. Happ. Also, Toronto’s 8th and 9th inning options in the bullpen appear to be very good with Roberto Osuna as the closer and Ryan Tepera as a quality setup man. However, the Blue Jays need better production from the rest of their bullpen and they need to find another good setup man. Toronto isn’t on the same level as the Yankees or the Red Sox, although if all goes right for Toronto then they still could compete for a wild card spot in 2018.

4. Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore is kind of on the same level as Toronto as they are a team that won’t challenge for the division title, but they could still be a playoff contender. We all know that the Orioles will probably score a ton of runs this offseason as they have many dangerous threats in their lineup. Manny Machado is their best hitter overall, but they still have Jonathan Schoop, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, Chris Davis, and Mark Trumbo as other dangerous hitters in their lineup. Baltimore also has an extremely good bullpen, but they will have to be without star closer Zach Britton for awhile as he probably won’t be back until at least late May. Brad Brach should be just fine as the closer until Britton returns, but Britton’s injury will still hurt the Orioles a little bit. The good news is that Baltimore has a very deep bullpen with Darren O’Day and Mychal Givens as solid late-inning options as well. Baltimore’s main weakness is their starting pitching as they don’t really have a clear ace on their team and they don’t really have any good consistent starters. Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Chris Tillman, and Andrew Cashner are all decent pitchers. However, they are all very inconsistent and they aren’t enough to be a good starting rotation. Baltimore just needs their starting rotation to be decent and if that happens then the Orioles are good enough in other areas to possibly be a playoff team.

5. Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay is clearly hitting the rebuild button after getting rid of Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi, Tommy Hunter, Evan Longoria, Alex Cobb, Steven Souza Jr., Steve Cishek, and Brad Boxberger. That is a long list of quality major league players that they let go of, but the issue is that they didn’t even come close to replacing those players. The only players that they added that are proven MLB players are Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, and C.J. Cron. Tampa now basically has inexperience at many positions on their roster with Matt Duffy, Daniel Robertson, Mallex Smith, Denard Span, and C.J. Cron as new starters in their lineup this season. Tampa is going to have a really difficult time scoring runs this season as their best hitter is probably Kevin Kiermaier and even he isn’t a great hitter. The Rays still have a good starting rotation led by Chris Archer. However, it is unknown what kind of production that they will receive from the rest of their young starting pitchers like Blake Snell, Jacob Faria, and Matt Andriese. Tampa’s bullpen is probably the strength of the team with elite closer Alex Colome and quality setup options Dan Jennings and Sergio Romo. Tampa is a very young team with many unproven players and it appears that it could be a very rough season for the Rays in 2018.

Phillies trade Hellickson to the Orioles

The Philadelphia Phillies continued their lengthy rebuild just before the trade deadline as they sent starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for outfielder Hyun Soo Kim and minor league pitcher Garrett Cleavinger.

 

Philadelphia Phillies analysis/grade:

Jeremy Hellickson had really hurt his trade value this season with the Phillies as he had a 4.73 ERA for the team. However, Hellickson was set to be a free agent after this season so the Phillies had to get at least something in return for him. The most notable player that the Phillies received in this trade is Hyun Soo Kim who has been a backup outfielder for the Orioles. Soo Kim had a good 2016 season for Baltimore as he hit .302 with 6 home runs in his first major league season. However, Soo Kim has struggled this season as he is hitting only .233 with 1 home run in limited playing time. Soo Kim is a free agent after the season, so he is likely just a temporary solution for the Phillies in the outfield. He should get a lot more playing time the rest of this season with the Phillies than he did in Baltimore since Philadelphia is not competing for a playoff spot. The Phillies also received 23-year old minor league relief pitcher Garrett Cleavinger in this trade. Cleavinger was a 3rd round pick in 2015 by the Orioles, so he clearly has the potential to be a major league player. However, Cleavinger is having a terrible season in 2017 as he has a 6.28 ERA in Double-A. Cleavinger is still an intriguing prospect and if he can return to the type of player that he was in 2015 and 2016 then he could be a good bullpen piece for the Phillies. Overall, the Phillies didn’t get much in return for Hellickson, but this trade was definitely worth it since he was probably going to leave in free agency anyway.

Grade: B

 

Baltimore Orioles analysis/grade:

The Baltimore Orioles have struggled to find quality starting pitchers for years and they especially don’t have much depth in their rotation right now. However, the addition of Hellickson should at least add some starting pitcher depth for the Orioles this season. If Hellickson can pitch like he did in 2016 or like he did early on in his career, then he could make a big difference for Baltimore. However, Hellickson is very inconsistent and he hasn’t had a good 2017 season as he currently has a 4.73 ERA. The Orioles still have very slim playoff hopes this season, but this isn’t the type of trade that will get them there. Hellickson is only a rental player for the Orioles since he is a free agent after the season which is why it is strange that the Orioles traded for him since Baltimore doesn’t have much of a chance at the playoffs this season. The Orioles didn’t give up much to acquire Hellickson and maybe they can re-sign him this offseason, but this is a trade that won’t make much of a positive impact for Baltimore.

Grade: C-

jeremy hellickson

Season Outlook: Baltimore Orioles

Projected 2017 Starting Lineup:

  1. Adam Jones – Center fielder
  2. Seth Smith – Right Fielder
  3. Manny Machado – 3rd baseman
  4. Chris Davis – 1st baseman
  5. Mark Trumbo – Designated Hitter
  6. Jonathan Schoop – 2nd baseman
  7. Welington Castillo – Catcher
  8. J.J. Hardy – Shortstop
  9. Hyun Soo Kim – Left Fielder

Projected 2017 Pitching Rotation:

  1. Chris Tillman
  2. Kevin Gausman
  3. Dylan Bundy
  4. Ubaldo Jimenez
  5. Wade Miley

Season Outlook:

There is no doubt that the Baltimore Orioles have one of the most dangerous lineups in all of the MLB as the only weakness in their lineup is Hyun Soo Kim. Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Mark Trumbo in the middle of their lineup makes opposing pitchers shiver with fear. Trumbo hit 47 home runs, Davis hit 38 home runs, and Machado hit 37 home runs. Pretty much anybody in Baltimore’s lineup has the ability to make a major impact and the offense is certainly what will carry the Orioles in 2017. However, the Orioles pitching staff is what continues to hold the Orioles back. Chris Tillman is the team’s best starting pitcher as he went 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA last season. However, Tillman is injured right now and the issue is that there isn’t much consistency besides him. Gausman and Bundy have lots of potential, but they have yet to prove themselves for Baltimore. Also, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez have been productive pitchers a few years ago, but they have both been terrible lately. The Orioles have an outstanding bullpen with Zach Britton, Brad Brach, and Darren O’Day in the late innings. However, the starting pitching for the Orioles hasn’t been good enough to give their bullpen a chance to close out games. The Orioles have the offense to be playoff contenders in the highly competitive AL East, but it is hard to see basically the same pitching rotation improving much in 2017.

Prediction: 3rd place in the AL East

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Biggest need remaining for every AL East team

Baltimore Orioles – Biggest need: Right Fielder

It appeared that the Orioles would try and bring back last year’s starting right fielder Mark Trumbo, but it seems less likely that they will bring him back in 2017. Now, the Orioles seem to be stuck with Joey Rickard as their starting right fielder next season. Rickard put up respectable stats as he had a .268 average with 5 home runs last year. However, he has limited MLB experience and it is a mystery how well he’ll do with the starting job in right field. Baltimore still could sign a right fielder in free agency for the right price possibly a player like Jose Bautista. Either way, the Orioles need to at least add some more depth and competition in right field.

Boston Red Sox – Biggest need: Catcher

Sandy Leon had a career year at catcher for the Red Sox as he hit .310 with 7 home runs with limited opportunities. However, Leon has been a backup catcher for most of his career and he has been relatively unproductive offensively until last season. He will now be asked to be the full-time catcher for Boston next season and it will be interesting to see how he handles that pressure. The Red Sox have enough depth at the catcher position, but they need to find a starting catcher that they are comfortable playing full-time.

New York Yankees – Biggest need: Starting Pitcher

Masahiro Tanaka is a very good ace for the Yankees heading into 2017, but he has struggled to stay healthy recently and it is a question as to how many innings he can pitch. Michael Pineda and C.C. Sabathia are both talented pitchers, but they are also really inconsistent. Luis Severino was awful last season with a 5.83 ERA and Adam Warren has been a relief pitcher for most of his career. There aren’t many starting pitching options left in free agency for the Yankees to choose from. However, they have the prospects that they should probably trade for a quality starting pitcher at some point.

Tampa Bay Rays – Biggest need: Bullpen

The major weakness last season for the Rays was that they couldn’t close out games with their bullpen. Alex Colome was an all-star closer, but the team had trouble just giving him save opportunities in 2016. The only strength in Tampa Bay’s bullpen is Colome and the rest of their relief pitchers are a major question mark. Xavier Cedeno and Danny Farquhar figure to be the 7th and 8th inning guys for the Rays, but both players have been inconsistent throughout their careers. There are still numerous bullpen options remaining in free agency, but the question is whether the cheap Rays will be willing to sign a quality relief pitcher.

Toronto Blue Jays – Biggest need: Bullpen

The loss of quality relief pitcher Brett Cecil in free agency will most likely hurt the Blue Jays as their bullpen appears to be a weakness heading into 2017. Roberto Osuna was a very good closer last season for Toronto as he had a 2.68 ERA and 36 saves. However, the team doesn’t have much else in the bullpen besides Osuna. Jason Grilli has been a decent bullpen option earlier in his career, but he is 40 years old and he was not very good last season. Danny Barnes would be the other setup man for Toronto, although he is inexperienced and he had a 3.95 ERA for the Blue Jays in 2016. Toronto needs to bolster their bullpen by signing a relief pitcher that can help them temporarily.

Orioles sign Castillo to a 1-year deal

The Baltimore Orioles have a new starting catcher for the 2017 season as they signed Welington Castillo to a 1-year/$6 million contract with a club option for 2018. It was shocking that the Diamondbacks non-tendered Castillo this offseason after he had a productive 2016 season. The Orioles certainly had a need for a new catcher and apparently Castillo will be that guy. Castillo doesn’t bring much defensively for Baltimore as he had a league-high 10 passed balls last season. However, it is difficult to find a catcher in the MLB that is as productive as Castillo was with the Diamondbacks. He hit .264 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI’s last season, so Baltimore is hoping he can continue that offensive consistency. Baltimore didn’t seem interested in bringing back starting catcher Matt Wieters, so this signing pretty much ends any chance of a reunion with Wieters. The Orioles now have a pretty good catching duo with Welington Castillo and Caleb Joseph. Castillo’s lack of defense is really concerning, although this is a move that will make the Orioles lineup even better next season.

Grade: B+

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