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Orioles Midseason Review and Preview

Baltimore enters the second half of the season in a familiar position: under .500 (40-48) and lagging far behind in the AL East (14 games back of Boston). Unlike years past, however, the Orioles have things to look forward to in the second half of the season.

The expected struggles of the team's Opening Day starting rotation have sped up the development of some of the franchise's young pitchers as rookies Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken and David Hernandez now make up 3/5th of the rotation.

The youth movement has actually worked out shockingly well for Baltimore with two players emerging as early Rookie of the Year candidates. Bergesen has established himself as the team's best pitcher this season with a 6-3 mark and 3.54 ERA and has eight straight quality starts. Rookie Nolan Reimold may have put the final nail in the coffin for the Felix Pie experiment by taking hold of the left field position with a solid glove and impressive bat. Reimold leads all rookies with nine home runs and was the rookie of the month in June.

Catcher Matt Wieters had all the fanfare when he was called up from Class AAA Norfolk in late May but success has not immediately come to the man once nicknamed "God" while at Georgia Tech. Wieters is, however, showing marked improvement. After hitting .257 in June he has improved his batting average to .307 so far this month. Wieters's defense has improved as well as the team's everyday catcher seems to have fixed some early mechanics issues when trying to throw out runners.

The Orioles may still call up a few more young players, as pitchers Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta are both expected to make their major-league debuts in the second half. Tillman is likely to be the next pitcher called up while Arrieta seems more likely to be a September call-up.

The success of the rookies may make Baltimore sellers come the July 31 trade deadline with closer George Sherrill, reliever Danys Baez and first baseman Aubrey Huff the team's top bargaining chips.

The second half schedule doesn't offer the Orioles too many favors as the team has just two days off between today's series opener in Chicago against the White Sox and September 2.

On the bright side, the O's are done with their west coast road trips and have only seven more games against the AL West. Were it not for that division, the Orioles would sport a winning record (32-31), as Baltimore is 8-17 this season against the West.

While that's a nice tidbit, Orioles fans have seen many a season go right down the toilet during the late summer (anyone remember the 3-22 finish of 2002?), but do you guys think this year will be more of the same? Is another limp to the finish in store for the O's or will the team collect its 12th straight losing season in a more tasteful manner?

By CJ Holley  |  July 17, 2009; 12:03 PM ET
Categories:  Orioles  | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Talking Behind Their Back  
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Comments

I would like to think they'll avoid the summer swoon, but it seems to have become an annual tradition with this team. Regardless, this season certain has been more interesting and should continue to be so because of all of the highly anticipated call ups and development of the young players. I'm trying to keep an objective view and avoid the kool-aid, but I do think there is reason the be excited for the (hopefully near) future of this team.

Posted by: dugly2ugly | July 17, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I feel opstimistic even if we aren't going to necessarily break that .500 season benchmark quite yet. The team seems to have finally made a commitment to building up the farm system and getting decent pitching. Once we get a solid rotation I think we could do what the Rays did last year in a season or two. Granted one thing we're starting to look thin on is position players. Mora isn't going to be around much longer and even if B-Rob has a few more seasons in him he may have to go to 3rd and 2nd basemen like him don't turn up every day.

Posted by: nitrojunkie_20723 | July 17, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

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