'09 is another step, not big leap

Al East Predictions

Orioles Preview

April 05, 2009|By PETER SCHMUCK

The Orioles' front office has never misrepresented the 2009 season. It was intended to be a rebuilding year, and there is little chance of it being anything else. The pitching staff was not even identifiable until the final week of spring training, and when it finally came together, the result didn't improve the team's chances of being competitive in the American League East.

Not that there was ever any likelihood of bringing together a starting rotation on par with the top teams in the division. Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail kept his powder dry during the offseason and early weeks of spring training, stocking the roster with unheralded pitchers who were brought in largely to hold space for the wave of young talent that is expected to roll in during the next two seasons.

The fans will have to be satisfied with the long-term retention of popular cornerstones Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts and the development of high-ceiling center fielder Adam Jones. The lineup will score some runs - particularly if Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora can follow up on last year's big performances - though probably not enough to mask the club's glaring deficiency on the mound.

That doesn't mean, however, it will definitely be a lost season. It will just be a season that features a lot of losses.

AL East

1. Red Sox

2. Yankees

3. Rays

4. Blue Jays

5. Orioles

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