Around The Blogs In 80 Days: Baltimore Orioles Edition

Ok so the title of my post maybe a bit deceiving, no this feature will not last 80 days, but I thought it would be a cool project to go around the league and connect with bloggers from the other 29 MLB teams and have them weigh in on their teams.

For my first stop of the tour, I check in with Daniel Moroz, founder of Camden Crazies, which is an excellent blog dedicated to the Baltimore Orioles.

In addition to providing up to date information surrounding the ball club, Moroz uses sabermetrics to showcase in-depth analysis of each member of the Orioles roster.

In the interview Moroz discuses a wide range of topics, including the team’s interest in both Matt Holliday and Carlos Delgado, as well as a look at some of the Orioles most prized youngsters.

Without further adieu here is my interview with Daniel Moroz of Camden Crazies:

PH: Obviously last season much of the talk surrounding the Orioles revolved around rookie catcher Matt Weiters. How would you rate Weiters’ rookie campaign in terms of a letter grade? Did he live up to your personal expectations?

DM: I took a more in-depth look at Wieters’ season here, but I thought he’d hit .275/.344/.438 (he actually hit .288/.340/.412) and gave a lot of weight to his being a catcher (and thus needing more transition time).

I was largely disappointed with the below average plate discipline – especially given his strong walk rates in the minors – but he’s still young and learning, and already a pretty good hitter for a catcher at his current level. I’d give him a C relative to expectations (which largely weren’t his fault), but a B- overall.

PH: Last year the Orioles made a very substantial offer to then-free agent, Mark Teixeira. This year it is rumored that the Os are in contact with Matt Holliday’s agent.  In your opinion how likely is the team to land the free agent slugger?

DM: I would be very, very surprised to see the O’s sign Holliday.

The guy’s a great player, but in order to get him to come to Baltimore, the O’s would need to really beat the Cardinals’ offer and I don’t think they’re in a position as a team to spend that kind of money right now. If all goes according to plan, they should be able to make a splash for a big-time free agent next off-season.

PH: While still on the Matt Holliday subject, some have suggested that the Orioles are not very serious in their pursuit of Holliday. What’s your take on this? Do you feel that the team sincerely believes that they have a chance at signing him?

DM: I think that they’d love to have him – all 30 teams would – but once the price-tag went above a certain level they weren’t going to stay in the bidding. It was worth asking, but the team isn’t in serious pursuit.

PH: Another bright spot on the Orioles team last year was the emergence of Nolan Reimold, who was called up early last season and proceeded to produce rather nicely before being shut down with an injury to the Achilles tendon. Do you have an update on his condition and will he be ready for the 2010 season?

DM: Last I checked with Will Carroll (injury expert at Baseball Prospectus), he should be good to go to start the season.

The injury may have negatively affected his range in left-field, which wasn’t too good and held down his total value to the team despite his impressive bat. I’m expecting a rebound with the glove while largely maintaining his offensive production in 2010.

PH: The Orioles have an impressive amount of young talent on their roster. Who in their farm system is closest to being major league ready and are there any hidden gems that haven’t been publicized much?

DM: Jake Arrieta is probably the next starting pitcher to be called up – he’s ended ’09 in Triple-A. Third-baseman Josh Bell (acquired in the George Sherrill trade) and first-baseman Brandon Snyder should be ready at some point in 2010.

The guy I like best who hasn’t gotten as much attention thus far due to the presence of Tillman and Matusz, is lefty starting pitching prospect Zach Britton. The guy gets a ton of groundballs and upped his strike-out rate this year, and he might be climbing up top prospect lists soon. I ranked him #1 (well, #2 if you count Matusz) recently myself.

PH: Recently, the Orioles signed free agent reliever, Mike Gonzalez, to a two year contract. How do you feel about the deal considering Gonzalez’s spotty health and where does he fit into the Orioles bullpen?

DM: Given the price-tag, he’ll certainly be the closer. I don’t really like the deal, because Gonzalez is a good but not elite relief pitcher (when healthy) and the Orioles aren’t in a position to overpay for a closer right now.

The difference between 75 wins and 76 isn’t really a big deal, and certainly isn’t worth $6-8 M a year as well as a draft-pick. I’m just hoping Andy MacPhail can spin him off for quality prospects at some point. More on Gonzalez here.

PH: The team also recently picked up former Colorado Rockies star, Garrett Atkins. What’s your take on this particular signing? Do you feel that he will be able to bounce back for a dreadful season last year and contribute to the club?

DM: He’s been going down-hill for a while now – and I don’t love the deal at $4.5 M – but I do think he should be able to bounce back some (maybe .265/.335/.425).

Leaving Coors Field and moving to the tougher AL won’t help though, and his defense isn’t stellar. I think there’s a fair chance that Atkins will be slightly underpaid, but it’s not without downside risk and isn’t a straight bargain. More on Atkins here.

PH: The Orioles President of Baseball Operations, Andy MacPhail, has suggested that he is not done making moves this off-season. What area of the team do you think needs to be addressed next?

DM: Bringing in a guy like Carlos Delgado to hold down the fort at first-base would be nice. I’d like to see Luke Scott – who can’t really be used optimally by the team right now given the presence of Reimold and Pie – traded for a solid return (a B prospect maybe).

Other than that, I would really like to see some international prospects brought into the system. The development of the team at this point has a lot more to do with the progression of the young players already on the team than any move Andy can make at the moment.

PH: The Orioles have struggled quite a bit this past decade; however they have seemingly put together a solid core of young talent. With the roster set as of today are the Orioles contenders in 2010?

DM: Of course – and I think they’ll sweep the season series with the Yankees and Red Sox too.. Seriously though, a .500 season probably isn’t in the cards for 2010 at this point.

I would just like to see some improvement from Tillman, Matusz, Reimold, Wieters, and maybe 75+ wins. It’s a process, and I’m fully aware of that. In a realistically ideal world, they win ~83 games in ’10, and then vault into contention with 93+ wins in 2011 and beyond. Boy, wouldn’t that be nice.

Once again I’d like to thank Daniel for being apart of this feature. For more on the Orioles make sure to check out Moroz’s site, Camden Crazies. Also be sure to follow Moroz on Twitter.

Now MLB fans, it’s your turn. I’m interested in your feedback to this new series, and whether or not you would like me to continue these interviews.