Spring Postcard: Trembley deftly guiding O's in rebuilding process
Manager Dave Trembley could be another Joe Maddon in the making
Catcher prospect Matt Wieters is the talk of baseball
The Orioles would love to see Felix Pie claim the left field job
1) The Orioles brought 37 pitchers to camp. Thirty-seven! The cast is so large that ace Jeremy Guthrie joked that the team encouraged him to play in the World Baseball Classic so they could divvy up his innings to some of the other 36 pitchers. This is exactly what a rebuilding team should do: restock the system with power arms (the trades of Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard were designed with just that in mind) and take every low-risk flier you can, such as Rich Hill, a left-hander who could not find the plate last year but has some big-league success on his resume. Baltimore is sitting on a decent inventory of pitching prospects. You're not likely to see many real results on the big-league level this year, but you may get some hints.
2) Manager Dave Trembley could be another Joe Maddon in the making. He is turning around the culture in the clubhouse and on the field, which has meant clearing out some players who didn't fit. The Orioles seem to be buying into Trembley's insistence on hustle, professionalism and fundamentals.
3) Baltimore will rely on a host of veteran grinders ... for now. Players such as Ty Wigginton and Ryan Freel are good examples of what the Orioles have in mind as they wait for young players to develop. They won't carry Baltimore to the playoffs, but they give Trembley some flexibility while playing with energy and an understanding of their roles.
Prospect creating a buzz
Who else? Catcher Matt Wieters is the talk of baseball. GM Andy MacPhail is conservative, so Wieters would have to have a huge spring to make the Opening Day roster. But you can be sure he will not be far off. Imagine Joe Mauer with 30-home run power and you've got an idea of what Wieters can give the Orioles.
The Orioles have a dozen or more reporters on hand to follow pitcher Koji Uehara, who seems to be an affable guy making a quick transition to Major League Baseball. For some reason the Orioles, who could use all the publicity they can get these days, confine the media near the bullpen mounds to being inside a covered, fenced batting cage. So when Uehara threw a bullpen session, photographers were forced to shoot through a chain link fence or to lie on the ground and try to shoot underneath the fence. Uehara looks like a pure strike-thrower. He keeps his head extremely still throughout his delivery, which allows him to repeat his mechanics and maintain his release point consistently.
The Orioles would love to see Felix Pie blossom into an everyday player at age 23, especially because the outfield defense would be Rays-good with Pie, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis. But don't go to sleep on Luke Scott, who will get at-bats at DH but could be a left field option, as well. He has raw power, which was evident in his monster batting practice displays that drew cheers from the fans at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. Pie won't be handed a job; he'll have to earn his playing time. Scott, Freel and Wigginton create competition for jobs and at-bats that the Orioles are happy to watch play out.
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