Typically at this time of year, PressBox has asked some local media personalities to share their predictions for how many games the Baltimore Orioles will win during the coming season and whether the team will make the playoffs.
But things are a little different this year, so we’ve got a different question as we look ahead to the 2019 Orioles season. With the Orioles in rebuilding mode, how will you measure progress for the 2019 Orioles?
PressBox baseball writers and a few local media personalities weigh in:
Mel Antonen, MASN (@MelAntonen)
Success for the Orioles depends on how fast the kids grow amid the grind of a six-month season. Will Cedric Mullins adjust after September struggles? Will Richie Martin’s .300 average in Class AA translate to the AL East? Will Rio Ruiz finally get a chance to prove why he’s been one of the top prospects in baseball? The list goes on and on. Wins are nice, but if the Orioles establish a foundation of promising players, Step 1 of the rebuilding will be a step in the right direction.
Eric Arditti, Barstool Sports (@editti22)
I won’t be looking at the W/L column much in 2019. I’ll be monitoring the progress for the 2019 Orioles by paying attention to the FUTURE of the Birds, the young prospects. Whether they are in Norfolk, Bowie or even wetting their beak in Baltimore, if their young talent shows their potential and what they can be, I will be excited and happy for the future. #TrustTheProspects.
Phil Backert, PressBox / SiriusXM Fantasy Sports (@PhilBackert)
Progress this season for the Orioles will include dipping into the international market and signing a core of players for the first time in history that will impact the franchise for years to come. Adding more talent through trades of players the front office doesn’t envision to be part of the next winning team will be considered a win. Finally, top prospects like Austin Hays, Yusniel Diaz and Ryan Mountcastle establishing themselves on the big league team at some point in the season will be a clear sign of progress and hope for the future.
Mark Brown, Camden Chat (@CamdenChat)
It’s going to be a brutal April and May for Orioles fans with hardly any of the interesting young players on the team for Opening Day. Progress for 2019 is if guys like Yusniel Diaz, Ryan Mountcastle, Chance Sisco and others can force their way to MLB and then look like they might be part of the next good O’s teams. Here’s hoping August is a lot more exciting than April.
Stan “The Fan” Charles, PressBox (@StanTheFan)
2019 will mark the first season in Orioles history that ownership and management are in lockstep on what a rebuild is all about. The fact that it won’t be easy and it won’t be pretty … doesn’t rule out it being fun to get on board now.
Progress to me is finding three to five position players, i.e. Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Chance Sisco, Trey Mancini, Anthony Santander, Ryan Mountcastle and perhaps this June’s No. 1 draft pick who will start pulling the rope in a tug of war back to first respectability and eventually sustainable contention. It would also be great if a Mike Wright, David Hess or Josh Rogers looks like he could be penciled in as a future piece of a 2021-2025 rotation. As far as the rest of the supposed “key” players — Jonathan Villar, Mark Trumbo, Mychal Givens, Richard Bleier, Alex Cobb, Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner and possibly Nate Karns — the best you can hope for is they perform well enough to deal them for prospects.
Glenn Clark, Glenn Clark Radio (@GlennClarkRadio)
Progress for the 2019 Orioles will most certainly not be about wins and losses or even necessarily about seeing a player or two at the major league level blossoming into a star. To me, measuring progress for the Orioles will be about whether they continue to make sensible baseball moves — trading players when they’re most valuable, drafting the most projectable future stars, watching more minor league players develop into future contributors, etc. And it will also be about whether they continue to make the many positive strides they’ve made as an organization off the field as well. If that continues, I’ll absolutely consider 2019 as a year in which the Orioles made progress no matter how tough the season might be.
Pete Gilbert, WBAL TV-11 (@WBALPete)
The Orioles’ success has to be measured in Norfolk and Bowie this year. Clearly, the Mike Elias rebuild will not concern itself with wins and losses at Oriole Park this year, rather developing the youth movement (and in some cases, redeveloping). It will be painful for fans but the track record of the new regime says time has been earned to see the plan through.
Jim Henneman, PressBox
For the Orioles there will be only one way to measure progress this year — and it has been clearly laid out by general manager Mike Elias. Overall improvement of the organization, from bottom to top, is the oft-stated goal. The best place to start is with the organizational won-lost record, which shouldn’t be hard to improve. Some might argue that an increased number of top-100 prospects (two at the most recent count) would be a better gauge, but it’s hard to argue with the bottom line.
Starting with the major league club’s 47-115 mark, the Orioles compiled an overall organization record of 405-508, a dismal winning percentage of .444 in 2018. Five of the seven minor league teams finished fourth (which was last in two cases) and only three had winning records. The shocker here could be the answer to a trivia question — the best winning percentage of those teams was the 38-34 (.528) mark posted by the Orioles’ team in the Dominican Summer League, where the team has had almost zero presence throughout the years but might be one of the few areas where the team could have trouble showing improvement this year.
Luke Jackson, PressBox (@luke_jackson10)
For the Orioles to make progress in 2019, they have to end the season with more potential long-term contributors than they started with. Can the Orioles’ new coaching staff help Jimmy Yacabonis, Miguel Castro, Tanner Scott, Mike Wright and David Hess harness their arm strength? Can the Orioles help Renato Nunez defensively at third base? Can they help Rio Ruiz rediscover the bat that made him a top prospect? Can Cedric Mullins improve against left-handed pitching? The commitment to development at the big league level has to bear some fruit.
Michael Janofsky, Former New York Times Sports Writer, Lifelong Orioles Fan
For me, it comes down to how the metrics unused by the previous regime are reflected in the personal development of the young players and the correcting of bad habits of the remaining older ones. A few examples: Can Richie Martin develop as a dependable and long-term shortstop? Will Austin Hays return quickly and become a lasting presence in the outfield? Will Chance develop into a dependable catcher? Can Chris Davis lower his strikeout rate? Will Dylan Bundy reduce his home runs? The right answers would signify progress and hasten the rebuilding years. The wrong ones, alas, would suggest we’re headed to Rebuild 2.0.
Todd Karpovich, PressBox (@toddkarpovich)
New Orioles GM Mike Elias has said numerous times this upcoming season won’t be measured by wins and losses. Instead, he wants to see the overall level of talent throughout the organization get better. Progress will be measured by how many younger players that were sent to the minors — i.e. DJ Stewart, Yusniel Diaz, Anthony Santander, Chance Sisco, Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle — earn their way back to the major league club. Another bonus would be Chris Davis providing some type of meaningful impact. Finally, the Orioles would significantly benefit by some of the younger pitchers showing they are ready to contribute.
Matt Kremnitzer, The Athletic (@mattkremnitzer)
At this point, with this current roster, the most important thing for the Orioles is to grow and develop talent at the minor league level. Mike Elias has said that’s his number one goal, as it should be. At the major league level, I’m curious if the O’s will be able to get more out of veterans who have struggled recently, like Dylan Bundy, Trey Mancini, Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, Mike Wright, Chris Davis (of course) and others. Really, you can go up and down the roster. Can they get some of these guys back on track
Tony Pente, Orioles Hangout (@OriolesHangout)
Quite simply, success this year should be measured by identifying players that can part of a winning ball club in the future in 2-3 years or more and by showcasing current players that could be potential trade bait. Mike Elias has proven that all of his decisions have that “winning future” in mind, and fans need to have the same mentality or they will be sorely disappointed. If this team can manage to lose fewer than 100 games, it should be considered quite the on-field feat.
Josh Sroka, Section 336 (@joshsroka)
I love this question because reading a bunch of predictions where 60 wins feels generous is no fun, but if you want a number prediction I’ll keep on the orange sunglasses and take the 60 wins. For progress, what I really want to see this season is a glimpse of the future. By the end of the season, I would like to see an outfield made up of young guys who will be bringing winning back to Baltimore. I would like to see one or two pitchers who are part of the future rotation. I’d love to see if any of these prospects from the Dan Duquette era are real. Please show me that I can believe in a three-year rebuild rather than an eternity. I am ready to trust the process but need glimpses of the future
Matt Sroka, Section 336 (@Section336)
To borrow from Mike Elias’ terminology, success for the 2019 Orioles will be measured by their ability to “improve the aggregate talent base of this organization.” Though difficult to measure, at the end of the season we should ask ourselves two questions: 1. Did the young talent take strides to improve as potential major league talent? and 2. Do the Orioles have better players in the system than they did when the season started? If we can answer yes to these two questions, then the season was a success.
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