With a plethora of capable outfielders, why haven't the Orioles traded Luke Scott yet? All he'll do this year is take at-bats from Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie, and someone with his power capabilities could be appealing to a team in contention after the All-Star break. -- Rick L., Hampstead, Md.
While the Orioles appear on paper to have a logjam of outfielders, there's several other factors at hand. First, and most importantly, is health. Reimold has been slowed by the left Achilles tendon surgery that ended his season last September, and he is still experiencing some pain and nagging soreness. The club is optimistic he will open the year full-throttle, but watching him in Spring Training, it's clear he's not there yet. Reimold started back-to-back days at designated hitter on Tuesday and Wednesday, but is hitless (0-for-15) in six games.
Pie is expected to start Saturday for what will be his first game action in a week and a half. He's been dealing with left shoulder tendinitis, and although it's believed to be a minor thing, trading away Scott, at least right now, wouldn't make much sense. I do agree with you that Scott's bat would certainly help a team looking for some power. Scott has shown he is capable of carrying a team offensively, and has had a good start to the spring.
It's not an option I'd rule out, but not one I see happening until the team has a better idea of what to expect from Reimold and Pie.
Who do you feel are the front-runners for the spots in the bullpen that are still available? -- Greg E., Pasadena, Md.
Great question, Greg, and one I'll open with a quote from manager Dave Trembley.
"There's some dogfights going on down there in the bullpen," Trembley said following Wednesday's game. "They know it, and they're pitching like they know it."
With Mike Gonzalez, Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara and Mark Hendrickson locks to make the team, there appears to be three spots up for grabs, one of which will be for the situational lefty role.
Sidearmer Cla Meredith hasn't allowed a hit in six innings of work this spring, and if he keeps pitching like this, the right-hander has to strongly be considered as a part of the Opening Day 'pen. Meredith tossed a scoreless inning again on Wednesday and, along with Matt Albers, should be considered as a front-runner. Albers hasn't yielded a run in 6 1/3 innings spread over five games.
However, Trembley has made it clear that one of the bullpen spots is Kam Mickolio's to lose. Although the tall right-hander hasn't put up the spring numbers of Albers or Meredith, he's definitely still in the mix. Dennis Sarfate deserves to be mentioned as well, although he's allowed three earned runs on five hits and two walks over five innings.
If the club opts to go with a situational lefty, non-roster invitee Will Ohman is the favorite, with Alberto Castillo his main competition.
How good have the young guns -- Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters -- looked at the plate, both in the games and in batting practice? -- Brian G., Clarksville, Md.
This is a pretty interesting trio here, with three different approaches and results in camp. Markakis is probably swinging the bat as well as anyone in baseball right now, hitting .375 with two homers in eight games. After watching him launch balls out of the park in his first batting practice this spring, I'm convinced he could hit in his sleep.
Jones is hitting .217 with a homer and three RBIs in eight games, and while he has seven strikeouts, he always manages to grind out good at-bats. Wieters has just one hit this spring -- a double on March 8 -- but isn't exactly panicking. When I talked to him the other day, he said he's using Spring Training to get his swing where it needs to be. Trembley's recent announcement that Wieters will log more time behind the plate should also help him in the batter's box. But keep in mind, any good or bad numbers at this point should be taken with a grain of salt. As Wieters pointed out, "Your average doesn't ever carry over in Spring Training."
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Do you think Trembley will last through this season, and is there any reason to think this team will avoid losing 90-plus games? -- Todd M., Gainesville, Fla.
I think it's a given that the Orioles have to improve their win-loss record for Trembley to stick around for the 2011 season. They have to play better fundamental baseball and make strides in areas, such as pitching, that were woeful last year.
There's definitely reason to think they will avoid losing more than 90 games this season and they all start, coincidentally, with pitching. Veteran Kevin Millwood and Gonzalez are stepping in to fill virtual voids from last year, so any contributions they make will go a long way, as will the expected progression of young starters Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman. Uehara could prove to be a sleeper out of the bullpen, while Jeremy Guthrie is coming off of a dismal season following his time in the World Baseball Classic.
The key is for the pitchers to stay healthy and improve as expected and for the position players to stay healthy. Baltimore's depth isn't its strong suit, and guys like Brian Roberts (herniated disk in his lower back) and Reimold need to be out on the field for them to be competitive.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.