Looking back at 2014

So it’s been awhile since I’ve written here, and as we approach the Winter Meetings, it’s the time to look back at the Orioles’ 2014 season.   Let’s look back specifically at some predictions I made earlier to see how clairvoyant or completely out in left field I was:

1.  Manny Machado won’t return to the Orioles until May. 

Dead on with this one.  Machado returned to the lineup on May 2nd after we’d heard he’d make the Opening Day roster in the offseason. And now once again he’s on the DL with another knee issue that ended his season.  Let’s hope the Orioles actually go get some insurance this time because I wouldn’t bet any money on Machado being healthy for Opening Day in 2015.

2. We will see the 3B and SS combo of Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado for the first of many seasons beginning in 2014.

Dead wrong here.  Hardy stayed healthy enough to play 141 games in 2014 and Schoop got all of his playing time at 2nd or 3rd.  With the extension now signed by Hardy, it seems Schoop will not be playing SS or 3B for that matter unless there is an injury.

3.  Tommy Hunter will lose the closer role by May. 

Hunter was removed from the closer’s role in mid-May and Zach Britton took over and never looked back.  I said that Britton as closer would be an interesting storyline and it was, as he was able to save 37 games for the Orioles.  This seems to be his new role going forward, while Hunter is very much likely to be trade bait with his cost going up.

4.  Johan Santana will be in the Orioles’ rotation by June.

This one looked like it was going to come true until Santana blew out his Achillies tendon and was lost for the season.  He’s still working out in Sarasota, so he might give it one more shot with the Orioles on a minor league deal.

5.  David Lough will play his way onto the bench by July.

Lough struggled early and sure enough was removed to have Pearce, Cruz, Young and then De Aza take away his playing time in LF while he was reduced to pinch hitting and running.  Lough likely will be non-tendered this December.

6.  Ubaldo Jimenez will emerge as the ace of the Orioles over Chris Tillman by the All-Star Break. 

Yikes, this was bold, and wrong.  Jimenez had a few flashes, but pretty much was a disappointment for the Orioles, culminating in his being left off the postseason roster.  Now the O’s are looking to move his contract elsewhere.  Odds are though he’ll wind up breaking camp with the Orioles in their rotation next season.

7.  Delmon Young will be DFA’d by September

Another wrong prediction, however, wrong in a good way.  Delmon Young was a fantastic PHer and even played a crucial role in the playoffs.   Young is a free agent, so I’m not sure if the Orioles will bring him back, but he certainly earned the role he had on the Orioles last season – something I did not expect.

8.  One of Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy and Eduardo Rodriguez will not be an Oriole by the end of August. 

This came true when the Orioles dealt ERod to the rival Red Sox for crucial bullpen piece, Andrew Miller.  It’s a trade I would have made any day of the week, but the Orioles should have done more at the deadline and may have been able to package ERod in a bigger deal.

9.  The Orioles will make a major trade or two by August. 

I guess you could count Andrew Miller as a major trade, but in reality the Orioles did not trade for a top starter or impact bat.    They were able to win the AL East and progress to the ALCS without those additions, but the Royals exposed how badly they needed to improve their rotation and OBP.

10.  Steve Clevenger will play his way into a platoon with Matt Wieters.

Well Wieters did get hurt, but it was Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley that was the platoon.   Showalter just doesn’t like Clevenger for some reason.  I don’t really get it as his bat is solid and so is his pitch framing.  He may not have the best throwing arm, but neither did Jason Varitek.   We’ll see if Clevenger will just be minor league fodder or if the Orioles will actually let him have a bigger role.

Bonus prediction – The Orioles will play Game 163 against the Rays for a Wild Card berth and the winner will win the World Series.

Well this one was wrong too – as we all know the Orioles won 96 games and the AL East.  The Rays faltered and traded off David Price and finished in 4th.   The Oriole did advance to the ALCS but fell short of their World Series goal.

So I’ll say I got 4.5 out of 10 right.  We’ll see how the offseason will shake out, and that will be my next entry on what I think the Orioles should do versus what I think they’ll do.