The 2012 Orioles continue to be one of the more interesting teams in baseball right now. Despite the series loss to Boston this week the Orioles are opening up a weekend series against the Kansas City Royals with even more intrigue.
First, Brian Roberts. The man that I was sure was completely done at the beginning of the year has made two rehab starts in Bowie so far. How he has done in two games is completely inconsequential because the fact that Brian Roberts is playing professional baseball in 2012 is something that I never thought I would see. I still don't know if Roberts will make his way back to Baltimore this summer, but he is working his way back.
Coming off horrendous post-concussion syndrome Roberts has battled his way back. Many questioned the Orioles' decision to keep him on the 15-day Disabled List, rather then the 60-day DL, where Roberts woudl essentially be wasting a 40-man roster spot. It seems, for the tume being, that GM Dan Duquette's faith is being rewarded. Roberts who was barely fielding balls being rolled to him in Sarasota now appears to be on his way back to Baltimore. And honestly, I don't know how I feel about it.
I love Brian Roberts, he is a great player and he has been one of the brightest spots in a rather dark period in Orioles history. However, has this team passed him by? If Roberts can't be himself? If Roberts can't make the diving plays in the hole; steal second, then third; hit for occasional power and get on base 3.5 times a game - what is he? Is he better than what Robert Andino has become? If he isn't better than Andino then how long do the Orioles give him to prove himself at the big league level? The Orioles aren't playing for .500 anymore, more on that later, I get the feeling that the Orioles are about to make some moves to try and compete in 2012, or show the world that they are ready to compete a lot sooner than anyone thought. If that is true, then how long of a leash does Brian Roberts have in a division where any team has the ability to get hot and on a team with a long history of ill-fated collapses?
I have faith that Duquette and Manager, Buck Showalter will not put ths team in any sort of jeopardy for the sake of Roberts. If he fails to perform, so be it. I just worry about tinkering with the chemistry of this team. Every Oriole fan in this and alternate dimensions is waiting for the proverbial "other-shoe" to drop on this season. So far the team has responded to every bit of adversity it has faced and the proposed addition of a healthy Roberts doesn't sound like a bad thing. However, the road to Hell is paved in good intentions; I will continue to hope for the best.
Speaking of "the best" various news sources broke this morning with news that the Orioles and center-fielder Adam Jones are very close to a six-year, $85 million contract extension (reported).
This is fantastic news. This is fantastic news for the following reasons:
1) The Orioles are showing the willingness to sign their "homegrown" players. Yes, I know Jones came to us in the Seattle trade, but he is an Oriole through and through. Most consider him to be the de-facto face of the franchise. He is great in the community, he is great for the team and this move shows the world that the Orioles are willing to take care of their own. First was Roberts and Markakis, now Jones; with Matt Wieters on the horizon the Orioles will have to show they are willing to spend more money. This was the first step in to silencing a lot of doubters.
2) The reported deal is a great one for the team. If the figures that have been reported are correct then the Orioles have a front-line center-fielder through hi age-32 season. The terms mean Jones would be getting paid roughly $14 million a year, a contract that is probably overpaying in a strict numbers sense, but certainly not the type of overpaying many assumed the Orioles would have to sink in order to keep Jones in the fold.
3) No more trade Adam Jones talk. Period.
4) It tells me that the Orioles aren't looking at this start as a fluke. Duquette looks at this team and sees it is for real. He has shown nothing but confidence in Buck, in the core, in Adair and Anderson since he walked through the door and his conifdence has been rewarded in spades. Duquette is showing the world right now that he feels this team can and will compete down the stretch in the second half. I feel extending Jones is the opening salvo of Duquette's moves this year. I would expect the Orioles to be active at the trade deadline. I would not discount the idea of Roy Oswalt being offered some money.
5) Duquette has silenced his critics. Duquette came into the Orioles job after a complete debacle of a GM search. The Dipoto snub and the very public rejection from other candidates made the Orioles the laughing stock of the league, once again. Dan Duquette hadn't been in a MLB front office in over a decade. Needless to say, Duquette had a ton of doubters. The way the Orioles have played, the move to get Jones extended prior to the All Star Break has really vindicated Duquette in my eyes. It is impossible to doubt this guy right now, he is moving the notoriously slow and inept Orioles fron office in decisive and bold directions. He is getting things done, and it is working. Thank you Dan Duquette.
This is the most excited I have been about the Orioles in a very long time. Even in 2005 the feeling felt hollow and you knew something would happen. But this team is different, something is there, they are for real. The 2012 Baltimore Orioles have been nothing less than light-years more entertaining than anyone thought they would be.