Just in time for prospect season, we take a look at the idea of "windows" and a team's prime time to win. Inspired by what seems to be a once every three years rebuild for the Oakland Athletics, is there going to be a time where all their premier prospects hit and they'll have the best chance to win? Here we present the pleasures of trying to maximize production during one's service time.
19th in the series, we look at the Baltimore Orioles. Ranked 19th overall by John Sickels, they have 2 A-rated prospects and 5 B-rated prospects. Keith Law's 2012 organizational rankings sees it slightly better at 17th overall. Compared to some of the other teams we've looked it, there's simply the depth at the top of the system and the number of B-level prospects puts bottom portion of Sickels prospects per grade. But that's ok, there's two superstars in the making with SS Manny Machado and P Dylan Bundy.
Unlucky and in a division with the top two payroll teams at double the salary of the O's ($87MM vs Red Sox: $163MM and Yankees $207MM), when will they be best aligned to take a piece of the AL East lead and push into the playoffs?
They're top two prospects aren't set to come up until 2014, but in terms of their current lineup, they'll have to figure out of this is a group of guys that can help them win.
Here's what the O's roster projects to be in 2012:
*New acquisition, Current roster info from MLB Depth Charts
Projected Disabled List
2B Brian Roberts** + UPDATE 3/7 - no timetable for return (concussion symptoms)
In Jonah Keri's season previews over at Grantland, his Orioles piece asked some good questions:
Time to find out what the Orioles have here. Can Markakis approach the .389 wOBA he posted four years ago — or was that a career year for an otherwise merely average outfielder? Will Jones fulfill his potential in this, the year he turns 27 — or is a player with a career walk rate below 5 percent doomed to a career of offensive mediocrity? Can Wieters take the next step toward superstardom — or will the Orioles have to settle for a five-win player as their best guy? Can Endy Chavez shock the world and hit .301 again — or will he return to his customary role, picking up his teammates' dry cleaning?
I would decide on whether OF Adam Jones can continue to be a cornerstone in their OF. Then again, he can be traded before his arbitration years are up and at least get some good prospects in return. Acquiring SP Jason Hammel this offseason was a good start, but I would try to shore up the starting pitching, and if at the trade deadline, they don't seem to be living up to expectations, it might be time to look at if there's any suitors to any of their pieces, whether that be SS J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, or anyone else. I would think that 2014 may be when their luck changes and their window looks wider.
See the previous graphics in this series: Mariners | Athletics | Astros | Cubs | Pirates | Royals | Twins | Indians | Padres | Diamondbacks | Rays | Jays | Braves | Nationals | Mets | Marlins | Phillies | Red Sox