Only 16 days until pitchers and catchers report, so the baseball offseason is amazingly all but over, and we can start getting a good idea of what next season holds for the Birds and Nats.
The biggest news to come out is that Nick Markakis now looks like he plays open mic night at Nanny O'Brien's, but the other news is that Baseball Prospectus just released their team projections for 2010. The highlights are that the 3 best teams all will reside in the AL East, the Yankees will be the 3rd best team in the entire league but miss the playoffs, and the Nats are projected to jump up to 82 wins! The Orioles? BP has the birds at a respectable 79 wins, which is impressive when the strength of the competition is considered.
The other exciting news is that Keith Law just ranked the O's farm system as #6 in the league, despite Baseball Jesus and Chris Tillman not counting in that ranking due to their 'graduations'. If that 1 guy and 1 god are included, the O's could very easily be #1 on that list. The bad news is that the Yankees still reside in New York, and the Red Sox and Rays have the #2 and #3 systems. The other bad news is that the Nats sit all the way down at #23.
Law also ranks the top-100 prospects overall, with Strasbourg #2 overall, Oriole Brian Matusz #11, Oriole Zach Britton #25, Nat Derek Norris #31, Oriole Josh Bell #61, Oriole Jake Arrieta #90, and Nat Drew Storen #92. Law also notes that future Nat SS Ian Desmond narrowly missed the top-100.
So where does this leave us? First, I have a new respect for Nick the Greek because of that savage beard. Second, Orioles will not surprisingly again toil below the MLB elite, who happen to reside in the same division. Finally, 2011 is still a big year for the O's, but the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays are all still better positioned (just wait until Joe Mauer is a Yankee in 2011), so expectations should be tempered, except for one thing.............we've got Wieters.........
(Image courtesy of misterirrelevant.com)