Monday, December 22, 2003

The Baltimore Orioles are giving their fans a present for Christmas: Hope. After signing Miguel Tejada and now Javy Lopez, the Orioles are tooling for success. Now they are setting their sights for Vladimir Guerrero.

The Orioles finished in fourth place in the AL East for six straight seasons. They brought in Mike Hargrove and the human rain delay was to be the team's salvation. But that salvation was delayed as well by bad personnel decisions and worse pitching. The first thing that the Orioles did was to bring in Lee Mazzilli. Mazzilli should be a breath of fresh air. But nice air is nothing without the horses.

General Manager, Mike Flanagan has brought in the horses. When you add Tejada and Lopez to Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora, Jay Gibbons and Luis Matos, you've got a pretty serious lineup. The only question with Javy Lopez is his health and whether or not 2003 was a career season for the slugging catcher. $22.5 million is a lot to invest in a 33 year old catcher.

So far, Flanagan hasn't addressed the starting pitching. In fact, the pitching has seemed to step backwards with the release of Jason Johnson and Damion Moss, who was the big part of the Sidney Ponson deal with San Francisco last year. I look at the team's roster and see a bunch of nobodies. Clearly, Flanagan needs at least two stud pitchers.

It is also clear that every team in the AL East has improved from the Yankees on down to Tampa Bay. Can the Orioles climb any higher than the top three this year?

In either case, Oriole fans have been quiet in their wait for some progress and continue to support their team well. It should be a happy holiday as there should be some more balls flying around Camden Yards.