2003 Baltimore Orioles

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Meet the 2003
Projected Lineup
DH /

LF /

SS Rotation

RHP (closer)

  • Regular Season Schedule
  • Orioles' Offseason Moves
  • Orioles team page
  • Last year's record:

    67-95, 4th place in AL East

    If 2002 were a movie ...

    "Groundhog Day." Why? Because the same crap seems to happen over and over again. The O's are awful and rather than doing thee smart thing and give themselves over completely to a rebuilding effort, they recycle scores of vets and ambulatory souvenirs of bygone days of glory who dwell at the margins of usefulness. The result is a constant state of not-quite-as-bad-as-the-D-Rays ineptitude. And the B-more faithful are also apparently tiring of the same old M.O. year after year; last season's attendance total of 2.68 million was the lowest in the 11-year history of Camden Yards. In 2002, injuries also helped derail the charge for 70 wins. , , , and all missed significant time because of injuries. It's easy to forget that the O's were a .500 team as late as August 23. Why's that so easy to forget? Because they were outrageously bad down the stretch. An abysmal 4-32 finish (the worst such finish in more than 100 years) obliterated any notions of a winning — or even respectable — season. But it wasn't all bad. That's mostly because starter and closer were new on the scene, and both cobbled together impressive seasons.

    This year's question ...

    Will they be any better? Or, more to the point, will they score any runs? The O's have some reasonably promising arms in tow, but their lineup is about as intimidating as a gang of French intellectuals. is showing some nice skills growth, but he's never going to be an elite offensive force. has good power, but the team is minimizing his value by not playing him at short. can still crush left-handed pitching, but that's not exactly a rare skill. The top of the order is also suspect. As are the bottom and the middle, for that matter. How will rebounding veteran hurlers like and do? That's actually a less meaningful question than it might seem Both, after all, will have no bearing on the next competitive team. The real subplots for O's fans to monitor will be whether owner Peter Angelos gives his his new braintrust (at the top consisting of former O's broadcaster Mike Flanagan and former GM Jim Beattie) a wide berth or reverts to his pseudo-Steinbrenner meddling of recent history.

    Battle Royal ...

    Fifth starter. If is healthy and effective, they'll be quite a battle for the final spot in the rotation. is his competition and, since he's quite a bit younger (although no pup at age 29), more likely to have currency going forward. But Johnson, along with , is perpetually on the trade block in B-more. If they're still intent on dealing him, they may give Johnson the nod for showcase purposes. Then again, if they have designs on flipping Erickson to a contender at the deadline, that same dynamic may work in his favor. The upshot may be that whoever wins the job will be shopped aggressively come July. And then there's , who was signed recently. It's likely he'll find a spot in the rotation somewhere. That makes seven starters, for those keeping score. So think of this as a dilemma of sorts. The difference being that the Yanks will be sorting out wheat from wheat, while the O's carve up chaff from chaff.

    Uncry these tears ...

    I'm supposed to lament someone's departure here, but there's not really anyone who warrants hand-wringing. That's not so much praise for the winter personnel decisions as it is commentary upon the insignificance of many of Baltimore's moves over the past few months. I suppose I could find something to say about , but to what end? Use this space for note-taking or as a tax worksheet.
    VAN DYCK: Questions abound
    One statistic is pretty much all you need to know about the : 4-32. That's their record in the last 36 games of last season. And they have done almost nothing to improve, although it was not for lack of trying. They chased , , , and Jr., but wound up with none of them. Instead, they added veteran pitchers and . Pity manager Mike Hargrove, who is working on the final year of his contract and is being told to wait on an extension. He is stuck on a one-way street in a dilapidated old jalopy owned by a man who has changed his theory on spending money. Yes, Peter Angelos has gone cheap, perhaps saving his loot for a possible lawsuit against baseball if the move to Washington, D.C. Hey, at least you can get tickets to Camden Yards now.

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    And stay out!

    . Bordick was (and to a degree is) an excellent defensive shortstop. That always has value. But he'll turn 38 mid-way through this season and had very little future value for the O's. They were wise to cut him loose. Granted, they shouldn't have signed the inferior to replace him, but that's another matter altogether. I'm trying to compliment the ; don't trouble me with logic.

    Joe Millionaire Award ...

    Goes to — the guy who's not worth as much as is widely believed. Don't get me wrong: Julio is a solid talent. But he didn't quite earn that eye-gouging 1.99 ERA last season. A combo of luck and defense allowed that to happen. His command indicators are good, not great. You've got a solid reliever who may one day become a top-shelf closer. You don't have a Frankensteined early-90's Dennis Eckersley in your midst. Temper expectations. Oh, and don't draft in your fantasy league. He's going to blow up in a big way.

    Where's the love?

    I dunno, ? He's got power (28 HRs in 2002), but he lacks plate discipline. If he learns to take his walks, he could become a potent hitter. If he doesn't he could become, well, . This'll be a key year for him as he begins to reach what should be his prime seasons. As Oriole hitters go, Gibbons is probably the best. That's as dubious an honor as I can think of.

    Needs a touch of ...

    Position prospects. In a bad way. The O's farm system is nearly bereft of hitting talent, so if they start pawning off vets at the deadline, it had better be for some young bats.

    Crystal Ball

    4th place, AL East. Praise be to the D-Rays.
    Tagged: Orioles, Yankees, Athletics, Nationals, Mets, Giants, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Melvin Mora, Jerry Hairston Jr., Jay Gibbons, Ivan Rodriguez, Rodrigo Lopez, Hideki Matsui

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