Thursday, July 26, 2012
Orioles 2012: Top of the 6th
The Orioles' most recent stretch has been a pretty good one: 6-3 over the last nine, including a five-game win streak. Perhaps most encouraging is that their starting pitchers have been very sharp, turning in quality starts for eight of those nine contests. Lefty Zach Britton is finally back in the rotation after struggling with shoulder issues to begin the season. Britton has, in his short career, shown flashes of brilliance but has struggled with consistency from one game to the next. He made his second start of 2012 on July 22nd against the Indians, pitching six scoreless innings to get the win.
Photo via Baltimore Sports Report
The art of loving a bad team is in holding out hope for a brighter tomorrow. But what kind of future should we wish for, one year of championship glory or perennial contention? My own choice would always be the latter and the Birds are showing genuine promise this season. The team is good enough that when all cylinders are firing, they win. They are young enough that one can envision incremental improvement from year to year. There are even a few blue-chip prospects in the pipeline who could eventually prove vital pieces of a formidable big league team.
All of which makes the more cautious fan nervous as the trade deadline approaches. Baltimore is currently 7.5 games behind the Yankees so even with more than two months left, a division title is probably out of reach. Instead, my gang is one of several teams in a dog fight for the two American League wild card slots. How much of the future would they be willing to bet on a shot at a one-game playoff against, for instance, Justin Verlander? The Orioles currently boast two of the top ten minor league prospects in baseball. Shortstop Manny Machado could be ready to move into the parent club infield as early as next year. Righty Dylan Bundy is projected to be a future staff ace. Would losing either be worth renting Zack Greinke's services for two months?