“Change” has filtered down from the White House to Baltimore this spring, and nowhere is that change more evident than in the Orioles infield. Andy MacPhail went out and acquired three new starters, essentially revamping the whole diamond.
Derrek Lee signed as a free agent and will be taking over first base. He owns a career .282 / .367 / .498 line and popped 35 homeruns just two years ago. Lee is a very good defender and can hit when healthy. He’ll be 35 years old in 2011 and is already battling wrist and foot injuries.
Mark Reynolds will be the new third baseman, acquired in a trade for David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. A true all-or-nothing type hitter, Reynolds has K’d over 200 times in each of the last three seasons. During that time he has launched 104 homeruns and batted just .234. Reynolds is still young, and if he learns to mix in a few singles instead of whiffing he will be extremely valuable.
The shortstop position will finally be a homerun threat again. Enter J.J. Hardy. Although I’m keeping my expectations low, Hardy has the potential to hit 25 homeruns and has plus hands at shortstop. Hardy was brought to town through a trade with Minnesota for a pair of minor leaguers.
Brian Roberts is the incumbent at second base and is the undisputed starter if healthy. He was one of the best second basemen and leadoff hitters in the game from 2003-2009, posting a line of .288 / .362 / .430. He led the league in doubles twice and stolen bases once. Roberts is coming off an injury ravaged 2010 and is still battling issues with his back this spring. If Roberts misses time, the O’s will be scuffling at second base.
Izturis appears certain to make the roster. He’s an all-glove no-stick infielder that will be the primary backup at shortstop, second, and third base.
Andino is another utility sub that could also see innings in the outfield. He’s not a guarantee to make the club, but I hear Showalter wants him around.
Jake Fox could see some time at first base, especially if Derrek Lee begins the season on the DL. Fox is absolutely raking this spring and has earned a spot somewhere. He’ll probably see time at catcher, first base, third base, and even leftfield. Luke Scott, who is penciled in as the starting leftfielder, could also see some time at first base.
Finally, Brendan Harris has been fighting for a utility infielder role. He can play every infield position and is a much better offensive player than Izturis or Andino. However, his glove isn’t as flashy and it doesn’t look like he’s going north.
MacPhail did an excellent job making the Orioles appear to be relevant again. Injuries appear to be an issue here, but you can’t dispute the talent upgrades.
About the Author
Written by Sven Jenkins
My name is Sven Jenkins, and I’m an independent baseball analyst from Poughkeepsie, NY. I own 60ft6in.com and do freelance work for STATS Inc. In the past, I've done research for the St. Louis Cardinals and worked one season with Baseball Info Solutions in 2007. I have also spent many nights as an official scorer in the minor leagues and played NCAA D-III baseball at SUNY New Paltz. In the off-season I travel the world, having enjoyed over 1,100 days on the road through 40 different countries. You can email me at: jenkins AT 60ft6in DOT com.