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JTrea81

Offense, not pitching is going to be the key to 2011

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Andy MacPhail recently said the following:

"So far, so good," president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said of the organization's position-player upgrades. "But the most important factor is going to be the continued health and maturation of our young arms."

That last phrase, seems to be key, as MacPhail of course seems to think pitching is the most important facet of the game.

However it was the offense that was so dreadful last season, not the pitching, and while the pitching was stellar under Showalter, it had to be, otherwise they wouldn't have won all those games as the offense still wasn't clicking even in August and September.

What's going to happen when the pitching slips back to a more sustainable pace? The answer is the offense is going to have to be there to back them up. If the offense has a season like it did last year, this team isn't going to reach .500 let alone be considered a contender no matter how solid the pitching is. The pitching is going to hit a certain ceiling and they can only do so much. The pace they had under Buck simply isn't realistically sustainable.

Getting back to the offense, the Orioles have several question marks in their lineup, the biggest being Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis.

Those three are going to be crucial to the performance of the team going forward. Guthrie, Matusz, Bergesen can all pitch lights out, but it isn't going to make a difference if those three core position players aren't performing IMO.

And then you have the players that were acquired to supplement the lineup, in Reynolds, Lee and Hardy. While good acquisitions on the surface, they too carry many question marks going into 2011. With Lee and Hardy the injury question looms large. Hardy is most certain to not make 140 starts and Lee age and injury factors in especially as he's dealing with a back problem similar to Roberts that most likely played a role in his subpar season last year. With Reynolds, you hope that he'll return to 2009 form, but again he's tinkering with his swing to cut down on strikeouts, so you hope he doesn't screw up his mechanics that gives him that valuable power.

You have aging returning vets in Roberts and Scott, both who have likely hit their career seasons and won't replicate what they did then. And with Roberts you also have the obvious health concerns.

There is no sure thing in the Orioles lineup at all, and that is very concerning IMO considering how the offense torpedoed the season in April.

The depth on the bench and in the minors is non-existant as well. If Roberts falters, you only have no-hit MIers in Izturis and Harris to replace him. If Lee goes down you have Luke Scott to move to 1B, but then you have to put a bat like Fox, Reimold, Bell or Snyder in the DH spot, all non-proven options.

There is no quality positional depth whatsoever, so injuries like last year will absolutely kill this offense and this team. And it's also the reason why we must land another bat like Vlad or Thome, but that's for another thread...

So I don't see how MacPhail can say that the continued health and development of the pitching is going to be key, not when we saw what happened last season with the offense and the fact his response was to build an offense with duct tape (albeit it extra-strength) filling the holes along with a lot of hopes and prayers.

If the offense falters, so does our entire season.

Edited by JTrea81

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I spent some time thinking about the offense today, and here is my opinion.

If Jones, MW, Nick, and one of the LFers do not all step up this year, do they then try and blow it up and start over, or do they semi-blow it up?

This will get harder and harder year in, and out, but the young guys really need to show up this year.

If they win 80-85 games this year, then maybe it will work going forward, but 70-75 would really make me wonder what are they going to do to fix it.

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If the pitching doesn't develop like it needs to, then it won't matter how good the offense is. If Matusz regresses from the end of last year, if Guthrie repeats his 2009 year, if Bergesen doesn't continue pitching better than his peripherals suggest, if Tillman doesn't show that he'll be a quality major leaguer, if Arrieta doesn't show that he's ready to pitch in the AL East, if Britton doesn't continue to progress like we all think and hope he will, if the bullpen collapses like it did last April, or heaven forbid we get hit with injuries then it's really not going to matter what our lineup is. Pitching is the most important part of a major league team. A great pitching staff is much more likely to lead a team to success than a great lineup.

Ideally, I'd love to see us have a great lineup in addition to an outstanding rotation. But that's going to cost more money than Angelos is going to spend. I'd much rather see us invest in pitching and the prevention of runs than to see us trade away our young pitching for a bat.

Look at our 2009 pitching staff. We had a 5.15 ERA. We allowed 876 runs. That's 18 more runs allowed than the Yankees, who scored the most runs in 2010, scored this past year.

I conclude with my final argument: Pitching, Pitching, Pitching.

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First I'll say that it's hard to say which is "the key" for our season, or any season, because to win, you either need both hitting and pitching to be good, or you need one of the two to be truly outstanding. I don't see either our pitching or our hitting being at the top of the league, so they both need to be good if we're going to have a good season.

I disagree with a few of your points.

However it was the offense that was so dreadful last season, not the pitching, and while the pitching was stellar under Showalter, it had to be, otherwise they wouldn't have won all those games as the offense still wasn't clicking even in August and September.

This isn't really true, the offense and pitching were about equally bad. We were 13th in the AL in runs scored, 13th in the AL in runs allowed.

Getting back to the offense, the Orioles have several question marks in their lineup, the biggest being Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis.

You are right that there are question marks in the lineup. I would say that our biggest offensive questions are the possible injury risks of Lee, Hardy, and Roberts, and the hope for breakouts from Wieters and Reimold/Pie. I am pretty sure Jones and Markakis will be getting better, and there's very little chance they get worse. Both of them are already solid contributors, so while there is a wide range of possible expectations (especially for Jones), I wouldn't say they're huge question marks.

However, I would argue that every single member of the rotation is as big or bigger a question mark than most of the lineup. Will Guthrie finally fall to the level of his peripherals? Will Matusz really make the leap? Will we see the 1st half Bergesen or the 2nd half Bergesen? The questions on Arrieta and Tillman speak for themselves. Out of our offensive players, I would say that only Wieters and Reimold have as much uncertainty as any of these young pitchers.

Those three are going to be crucial to the performance of the team going forward. Guthrie, Matusz, Bergesen can all pitch lights out, but it isn't going to make a difference if those three core position players aren't performing IMO.

This is true, but how can you ignore the counterargument? What if Jones, Markakis, and Wieters are tearing it up but the starting pitchers have regressed overall? We'd be in as bad, and probably a worse situation as the scenario you described.

There is no sure thing in the Orioles lineup at all, and that is very concerning IMO considering how the offense torpedoed the season in April.

I'll buy that. But again, the same can be said of the pitching. I can't look at any of our SPs and say "I am sure they will be a good pitcher this year." The closest to that are Guthrie and Matusz, but even at their best, they are more of question marks than, say, Scott and Markakis.

The depth on the bench and in the minors is non-existant as well. If Roberts falters, you only have no-hit MIers in Izturis and Harris to replace him. If Lee goes down you have Luke Scott to move to 1B, but then you have to put a bat like Fox, Reimold, Bell or Snyder in the DH spot, all non-proven options.

Yes, the lack of depth concerns me. But, past Britton, where is the SP depth? Equally concerning.

So I don't see how MacPhail can say that the continued health and development of the pitching is going to be key, not when we saw what happened last season with the offense.

What about what happened last season with the pitching?

Your post exposes holes in the offense... But it doesn't do much to prove your actual point, that the offense is more important than the pitching for 2011. You argue for question marks on the offense side without considering that the same argument can be made on the pitching side, and probably stronger.

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If the pitching doesn't develop like it needs to, then it won't matter how good the offense is. If Matusz regresses from the end of last year, if Guthrie repeats his 2009 year, if Bergesen doesn't continue pitching better than his peripherals suggest, if Tillman doesn't show that he'll be a quality major leaguer, if Arrieta doesn't show that he's ready to pitch in the AL East, if Britton doesn't continue to progress like we all think and hope he will, if the bullpen collapses like it did last April, or heaven forbid we get hit with injuries then it's really not going to matter what our lineup is. Pitching is the most important part of a major league team. A great pitching staff is much more likely to lead a team to success than a great lineup.

Ideally, I'd love to see us have a great lineup in addition to an outstanding rotation. But that's going to cost more money than Angelos is going to spend. I'd much rather see us invest in pitching and the prevention of runs than to see us trade away our young pitching for a bat.

Look at our 2009 pitching staff. We had a 5.15 ERA. We allowed 876 runs. That's 18 more runs allowed than the Yankees, who scored the most runs in 2010, scored this past year.

I conclude with my final argument: Pitching, Pitching, Pitching.

This is a nice try but he won't listen. He loves offense and doesn't get it with regards to pitching. Countless others have tried to explain the value of it to him before with no luck.

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You are right that there are question marks in the lineup. I would say that our biggest offensive questions are the possible injury risks of Lee, Hardy, and Roberts, and the hope for breakouts from Wieters and Reimold/Pie. I am pretty sure Jones and Markakis will be getting better, and there's very little chance they get worse. Both of them are already solid contributors, so while there is a wide range of possible expectations (especially for Jones), I wouldn't say they're huge question marks.

Why can't they get worse or stay the same? And they can't just be solid if these team is going to take the next step, they have to provide premium production or close to it.

However, I would argue that every single member of the rotation is as big or bigger a question mark than most of the lineup. Will Guthrie finally fall to the level of his peripherals? Will Matusz really make the leap? Will we see the 1st half Bergesen or the 2nd half Bergesen? The questions on Arrieta and Tillman speak for themselves. Out of our offensive players, I would say that only Wieters and Reimold have as much uncertainty as any of these young pitchers.

The pitching turned around while Buck was there, the offense didn't. I agree that there are question marks with the rotation, but they are not nearly as important as the question marks in the lineup. We had excellent pitching starting out the 2010 season but it was wasted by an offense that couldn't hit a beach ball, which put a huge magnifiying glass on the bullpen, particularly the closer role. The bottom line is that if you are scoring 5 runs a game or more, your pitching has more margin for error and for younger pitchers, this is very important. Part of the reason you saw Lester, Buchholz and Phil Hughes succeed is because they knew they had the offense to back them up.

This is true, but how can you ignore the counterargument? What if Jones, Markakis, and Wieters are tearing it up but the starting pitchers have regressed overall? We'd be in as bad, and probably a worse situation as the scenario you described.

Not really, as there are plenty of arms on the FA market and they are cheaper than finding the same production you'd get for a premium offensive player. Not all the pitchers are going to decline IMO as they all are young and seem to be ready to take a good workload.

I'll buy that. But again, the same can be said of the pitching. I can't look at any of our SPs and say "I am sure they will be a good pitcher this year." The closest to that are Guthrie and Matusz, but even at their best, they are more of question marks than, say, Scott and Markakis.

As I said, give them the run support they need, and there is less margin for error.

Yes, the lack of depth concerns me. But, past Britton, where is the SP depth? Equally concerning.

Even though MacPhail doesn't like to buy it, you can get solid rotation arms on the FA market, while the premium bats in their prime are harder and more expensive to find. And I have much more faith in our rotation than I do our offense.

What about what happened last season with the pitching?

As I said, it improved under Showalter, the offense didn't. Now perhaps that will change with new coaching, but there is still a chance we could see a repeat of 2010.

Your post exposes holes in the offense... But it doesn't do much to prove your actual point, that the offense is more important than the pitching for 2011. You argue for question marks on the offense side without considering that the same argument can be made on the pitching side, and probably stronger.

Again, pitching doesn't win a thing if the offense isn't there to back them up.

Edited by JTrea81

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/thread

Not true.

How about this quote and pay attention to the record:

It was the 13th time in 17 starts Matusz (3-9) has held an opponent to three runs or less. The problem was in eight of those his teammates had scored only one run or was shut out.

So Matusz held an opponent to three runs or less 13 times in 17 starts and and only had won 3 games.

That's not a pitching problem, that's the offense failing to execute.

That simply can't happen next season.

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Not true.

How about this quote and pay attention to the record:

So Matusz held an opponent to three runs or less 13 times in 17 starts and and only had won 3 games.

That's not a pitching problem, that's the offense failing to execute.

That simply can't happen next season.

Nope, totally true. Earl Weaver has probably forgotten more about baseball than you'll ever know. And while Juan Samuel is a great baseball guy, he's not in Weaver's caliber, not even close.

And what about this quote?

The pitching turned around while Buck was there, the offense didn't.

So if the pitching was the thing that turned around after Buck showed up and the Orioles started winning...that'd lead one to believe that the Orioles started winning cause the pitching got better, now wouldn't it?

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Andy MacPhail recently said the following:

That last phrase, seems to be key, as MacPhail of course seems to think pitching is the most important facet of the game.

First thing is first....Pitching is exactly why the Orioles were one of the top winning teams in MLB with Buck Showalter managing the team. You say its offense...I say no offense, but pitching made a winning team with Buck without it.

And the Orioles have only improved on the offensive side this off season. And they have a bunch of < prime aged, maturing, high upside offensive weapons with good defense that are just waiting to break out. Even if Jones, Markakis, Wieters, etc... do not have a breakout year, you have to give the benefit of doubt that they perform better this year (as a group). Especially given that the lineup now has proven hitters who's low end production is projected to beat out the Orioles 2010 production at a significant clip.

The Pitching is what defines the Orioles in 2011. The offense will be at worst MLB average, which in 2010 would have made this club a much more respectable team. And without the offense and a lesser defense? The Orioles won better than most MLB teams in August/September. AND THEY ARE JUST GETTING STARTED!

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Nope, totally true. Earl Weaver has probably forgotten more about baseball than you'll ever know. And while Juan Samuel is a great baseball guy, he's not in Weaver's caliber, not even close.

The game has changed since Weaver was managing. Offenses weren't the caliber that they are now. Now granted they aren't as dynamic as they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but we haven't quite regressed back to the 70's yet...

Pitching while important does not, and should not have the emphasis like it did then.

So if the pitching was the thing that turned around after Buck showed up and the Orioles started winning...that'd lead one to believe that the Orioles started winning cause the pitching got better, now wouldn't it?

How realistic though, is it that they keep up that pace, especially when they all go through their "dead arm" period sometime in May or June?

Edited by JTrea81

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The game has changed since Weaver was managing. Offenses weren't the caliber that they were now. Now granted they aren't as dynamic as they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but we haven't quite regressed back to the 70's yet...

Pitching while important does not, and should not have the emphasis like it did then.

How realistic though, is it that they keep up that pace, especially when they all go through their "dead arm" period sometime in May or June?

Oh, ok. Which is why the Sox rode Martinez and Schilling to their first title in 86 years. Which is why the Yankees for the past 14 years have had stellar pitching staffs.

They're going to go through their dead arm period in May or June? What else does the crystal ball say?

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Again, pitching doesn't win a thing if the offense isn't there to back them up.

I agree, and the offensive clearly needs to improve by a great deal compared to last year.

But when I look at our rotation I see two players who haven't yet pitched a full season, and two more who have less than two years at the MLB level. Sure, I'm very optimistic about their futures. But to say that the lineup is more of a question mark than that rotation, I really don't understand that line of thinking.

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while the pitching was stellar under Showalter, it had to be, otherwise they wouldn't have won all those games as the offense still wasn't clicking even in August and September.

So, let me get this straight: our offense didn't click in August and September, but our pitching did and we won a ton of games, so in the future, pitching isn't going to matter, we need more offense?

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The game has changed since Weaver was managing. Offenses weren't the caliber that they are now. Now granted they aren't as dynamic as they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but we haven't quite regressed back to the 70's yet...

Pitching while important does not, and should not have the emphasis like it did then.

How realistic though, is it that they keep up that pace, especially when they all go through their "dead arm" period sometime in May or June?

Tell that to the Yankees at the end of this season...by all means please :D

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