The Baltimore sports scene is blessed with a bunch of talented bloggers who bring their unique perspective to the conversation. Each week, I hope to chat with one of them in a regular feature called Blogger on Blogger. This week, I exchanged emails with Stacey Long, who blogs about the
MV: What do you think 2013 will bring for Manny Machado? What are realistic expectations for the kid?
SL: Defensively there is nothing to worry about regarding Machado. He played a fantastic third base last season and that was without much practice at the position. I expect he'll be even better this season now that he has some time at the position under his belt. Offensively, I think it's important for fans to remember that Machado is only 20 years old. He's a very talented 20-year-old, but he'll be playing 2013 in the majors when most his age are still minor-league prospects. It's fair to assume that Machado will improve at the plate, but I don't think he'll put up star numbers just yet. He'll certainly improve his on-base percentage, which was low last season at .294, and put up a solid, if not spectacular season at the plate. He might have disappointing stretches at the plate as he adjusts to major-league pitching, and 2013 will be a building block on his way to a fantastic career.
MV: There have been a lot of positive developments from
SL: I think that if he stays healthy for the rest of the spring, he will start the season as the leadoff hitter. But I don't know if that's the right decision. It's been three years since Roberts has been a full-time player and he's 35 years old; it's far from certain how he'll produce no matter what he does in the spring. There are other players that I think could do a better job at the top of the lineup (such as
MV: How do you see the Orioles rotation setting up for Opening Day, most notably that fifth and final starting spot? Who will get the fifth spot, who should get the spot and will it end up mattering?
SL: Unless something crazy happens,
MV: Speaking about starting pitchers, how do you think the Orioles should proceed with
SL: Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy will both probably start at Double-A Bowie (Bundy has already been optioned there), and from there it will just be a matter of how they progress. Some scouts at
MV: Two weeks or so out from Opening Day, what currently concerns you most about this ballclub?
SL: A lot of the Orioles' wins in 2012 were of the one-run or extra-inning variety, both of which seem unsustainable, historically. And Dan Duquette did little to improve the team in the offseason, so the thought that they might not be able to keep up the success they had last year is certainly at the forefront. Beyond that, the real question is the starting pitching. While they did well last year, none of the starting pitchers has a track record of success. How they perform will dictate how the season goes.