TMS Team Preview: The 2016 Baltimore Orioles

Over the coming weeks, Thunder Matt's Saloon will have previews of all 30 MLB teams. We're starting at the bottom and working our way up based on the current Vegas odds for winning the 2016 World Series.

Today we look at the Baltimore Orioles


2015 Finish: 81-81 (3rd Place in AL Central)

So Long: Chris Parmelee, Wei-Yin Chen, Gerardo Parra, Steve Pearce,

Welcome: Mark Trumbo, Joey Terdoslavich, Yovani Gallardo, Dexter Fowler

Projected Lineup (via Rotochamp.com)
1. Dexter Fowler Hyun Soo Kim, LF
2. Manny Machado, 3B
3. Chris Davis, 1B
4. Adam Jones, CF
5. Mark Trumbo, DH
6. Matt Wieters, C
7. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
8. JJ Hardly, SS
9. Henry Urrutia, RF

Starting Rotation: Yovani Gallardo, Ubaldo Jiminez, Chris Tillman (hurt), Miguel Gonzalez, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy (hurt), Vance Worley
Setup: TJ McFarland, Darren O'Day
Closer: Zach Britton

Rap Lyric Describing Their 2015 Season:

"Not good enough for her man but good enough for access
Too good for the racks, not good enough for the actress"

    - Big Sean, Not Good Enough

Going into 2015, you can't be mad at the Orioles for thinking they were good enough as-is to make a second straight playoff run. After all, they were just coming off a 2014 season in which they won the AL East and made the playoffs for just the second time since 1997. They didn't make any huge moves in the 2014/2015 offseason, hoping that the departing Nelson Cruz would be made up for by a rebound from Chris Davis.

And then reality set in and the team stumbled to a 81-81 finish. Despite getting MVP type numbers from Davis and Manny Machado, the O's combined the 9th best offense in the majors with the 18th worst pitching staff and just sort of treaded water, not good enough to make a real playoff push like Toronto, and not bad enough to blow the entire thing up and start over.

So what does 2016 bring us? I would say more of the same. Despite getting turned down by Dexter Fowler for a team with a better chance of winning the World Series, the Orioles still have what looks on paper to be a top 10 offense, resigning Chris Davis to go along with Machado and Matt Wieters. And Adam Jones is still around to carry the 'Hey, I'm still around and I'm not as good as I was but I'm still decent' torch dropped by Nick Markakis when he left after 2014.

Sadly, the pitching is again going to be tough to watch. Sure, the team signed Yovanni Gallardo, but that just pushes Ubaldo Jiminez from being your #1 starter to being your #2 starter. That's like having to barf when you already have to take a shit - one is now only your second worst problem, but it's still just as big of a problem. Oh, and it turns out having a Gallardo/Ubaldo-led rotation isn't good because this isn't 2010. Kevin Gausman seems to have lost his confidence after being yanked between the rotation and bullpen for the last 3 seasons. Dylan Bundy is never healthy. If the Orioles can hold a lead into the 8th inning where they can turn it over to O'Day and Britton to slam the door shut, things will work out. Unfortunately, Orioles hitters won't be able to bat against their own pitchers.

Reason To Watch: Manny Machado is better than your 3rd baseman. I don't care what team you root for, he's just plain better. In 2015 his bat made huge strides to catch up with his glove and the result is Machado not just becoming one of the best 3B in the league, but one of the best players in baseball, regardless of position. Machado won his second Gold Glove in 4 seasons and finished 4th in MVP voting. It seems like the only thing that can stop this guy is the health of his knees.

Reason To Drink: I know I already got my shots in on Gallardo and Ubaldo, but holy crap are they going to be the worst 1/2 punch in the league. Their division mates can roll out guys like Tanaka and Pineda and Price and Stroman and Archer and Odorizzi when they have a must-win game. Gallardo's ERA last year was 3.42, but his FIP and xFIP show that he got SUPER lucky and should have had an ERA in the mid-4.00 range. And he's also moving to a division where he has to face the Red Sox/Yankees/Blue Jays for 80% of his divisional matchups and is working with diminished velocity. Ubaldo's ERA over the last 2 seasons is somewhere in the 4.40 range.

HURR THERE GOES MY ERA
The Fans: I don't know that I've met more than a handful of Orioles fans. I also never hear anything bad about them in the press, so they have to be pretty good, right? Ed Norton and Larry King are O's fans. That's perfectly adequate.

Their Worst Contract: I mean, Ubaldo Jiminez makes $13 million, but at least he can go out there and record a few strikeouts when he's not walking the bases full, right? Meanwhile JJ Hardly (get it?) is making $12.5 million to be just as bad with his bat as he is decent with his glove. I mean exactly. Hardly's defense cancels out his offense so well that last year he had a 0.0 WAR. That means the Orioles are paying $12 million to a SS that produces exactly on the same level as any SS off the street. That's like paying for a steak and lobster tail at a high end Tampa restaurant and getting canned cochinita pibil.

Fantasy Standout: Dexter Fowler. Guy can do a little bit of everything: take a walk and produce an OBP around .350, hit about 12-15 homers and steal about 12-15 bases. And by waiting until the end of free agency, the Orioles were able to....HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Sorry, I couldn't make it through that section. The truth is that Dexter Fowler would have been a great leadoff hitter and addition to this lineup, but because the Orioles dicked around and basically waited to be the only team available, Fowler had time to listen to his heart and come back to the Cubs for less money than the O's offered. Womp womp.

Fantasy Bust: I dunno. The guys that are worth rostering (Jones, Davis, Britton) have pretty good track records of performance the last few years and will most likely perform like you expect them to. I guess maybe don't get suckered into the "yeah, but how good of a cheap power source is Mark Trumbo toward the end of the draft blah blah blah" talk. Trumbo is trash. If you want a cheap 25 homers that won't cost you anything, at least go with Chris Carter in the last round.

The Pop Culture Equivalent To This Team Is: House of Cards coming back on Netflix for its newest season. You get yourself all hyped up for the return but then when you see it in action, all the same things that pissed you off last year are still there pissing you off and you wonder why you even bothered again.

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