MLB Betting: 2011 Baltimore Orioles preview

By: Adam Markowitz | Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Baltimore Orioles could be one of the more interesting teams in MLB betting action this year. Under Manager Buck Showalter, the O's went 34-23 last season and played great ball during the final two months of the 2010 campaign.

Now, there are a ton of new faces coming in to try to help out, and this could be one of the surprising teams in baseball.

The big thing that was missing in this lineup was a truly big bat. Derrek Lee won't likely have the same sort of productivity that he did a few seasons ago with the Chicago Cubs, but this is still a man that is capable of hitting 25 homers and driving in 100 runs.

The O's also took a flier out on Vladimir Guerrero when seemingly no one else wanted to take that chance on the veteran. There's a chance that Vladdy will be a Hall of Famer. He hit 29 home runs last season and drove in 115 runs for the Texas Rangers. No, Guerrero can't play the field anymore, but if he can produce that type of offense, he'll be a fine pickup for Baltimore.

Mark Reynolds might be striking out 200-225 times on the season (and goodness knows if it'll end up being more than that), but he'll also hit 30 homers and pick up 75-80 RBIs as well.

It's clear that the power portion of this lineup is now set with the veterans that came into the mix. The question is whether the other pieces in this lineup are really good enough. Adam Jones is an up and comer for sure after batting .284 last season, while JJ Hardy, Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis and Luke Scott really should round out a solid lineup.

Keep an eye on 24-year-old catcher Matt Wieters. He only batted .249 last season, but if Wieters can get that up in the .260 range or so, he might really be able to make a huge impact on this lineup.

The question is the pitching. Many compared this team to the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, but these pitchers just don't have the same type of talent that those arms did on that Rays team.

Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz and Bradley Bergesen are three at the front of this rotation. All three have a heck of a lot of potential, but none of them are absolutely ready to step up at the front of any rotation.

The bullpen really isn't all that great either. Koji Uehara doesn't have the feel of a closer to him quite yet, and though Kevin Gregg can do the job, he really hasn't proven that he can close consistently.

The other tremendous problem that the Orioles have is the obvious: They play in the AL East. We already know that the Boston Red Sox have one of the most stacked teams in the entire league, while the New York Yankees are still the New York Yankees. The question is whether Baltimore will be able to compete with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays.

If Baltimore can challenge the 80-win mark this year, it will be a success. However, if the Orioles end up pulling out more than that, we wouldn't be overly surprised.

Follow Don Best's season preview of all 30 MLB clubs by checking out the following links: Florida Marlins ... Tampa Bay Rays ... Atlanta Braves ... St. Louis Cardinals ... Kansas City Royals ... Texas Rangers ... Houston Astros ... Arizona Diamondbacks ... San Diego Padres ... Los Angeles Angels ... Los Angeles Dodgers ... San Francisco Giants ... Oakland Athletics ... Seattle Mariners ... Colorado Rockies ... Minnesota Twins ... Milwaukee Brewers ... Chicago Cubs ... Chicago White Sox ... Detroit Tigers ... Toronto Blue Jays ... Cleveland Indians ... Cincinnati Reds ... Pittsburgh Pirates ... Washington Nationals

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