Same Old Story

We've seen this story before.

On July 17, 2012, the Orioles had a 46-44 record, good for 3rd place in the AL East and 10 games out of first place.  Of course, since there were no expectations, the only people who noticed were the diehards.  

This year, every loss is micro-analyzed, which may work in a 16 game league like the National Football League.  But this is baseball and with 162 games, you can't look at games in that way.  Well, you can, but you'll drive yourself crazy.

After last Wednesday's 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox, Paul remarked to me that some people at a message board he frequents were saying this is the most depressing win ever.  

A win, depressing?

The only time I've even considered coming close to calling a win depressing was the September 8, 2012 win over the Yankees.  And that was purely based on losing Nick Markakis for the rest of the year.  

The Orioles have had a rough two weeks.  There is no denying that.  But let's look at the positives because you can go to any Orioles site, Twitter, or Facebook and see people moaning and groaning about the negatives.

1. The pitching has slowly but steadily been improving.  The 2-4 road trip was a result of the offense going cold but also running into some good opposing pitching performances.  Sometimes I wonder if O's fans realize that the other team is also trying to play to win each game.  With Scott Feldman and the returning Wei-Yin Chen, I would look for more strides forward from the starting pitching staff.

2. Post All Star Break, reinforcements will slowly become available.  Wilson Betemit should be ready to come off the DL by early August.  If not, "Hammerin" Hank Urritia could be the guy to provide left handed power in the DH slot.  Wei-Yin Chen will already have been back for one start.  Tsuyoshi Wada is starting to produce much better starts at AAA Norfolk.  Jason Pridie, LJ Hoes, and Danny Valencia will all be September call up's at the very least.

And who knows what Duquette has cooked up in terms of any more potential moves.  No, we won't be getting a Cliff Lee caliber starter.  But I can assure you that whatever we do will be big improvements over a guy like Lew Ford, who was a big piece down the stretch last year.  (And no offense to Lew Ford but when you start considering him a big piece of the puzzle, there is bound to be some trouble.)

The 2012 team was 45-41 heading into an earlier All Star break.  For that to happen, the Orioles will have to lose all but one of the remaining six. 

Sure, that could happen. 

The world could also end tomorrow. 

We could be attacked by aliens tomorrow.  Anything is possible in the sports world.  But I'm pretty confident that this will not happen.

One year ago today, Nate McLouth was playing in Norfolk.  Less than a month later, he was summoned the night of his opt-out to provide some left field help.  Tonight, he has his t-shirt give-a-way and has been an above average lead off man and excellent base stealer. 

One year ago today, Manny Machado wasn't even a blip on anyone's radar, except that he was still positioned as a tremendous prospect and hope for the future.  He got his MLB leading 13th 3-hit game last night.

One year ago today, Nick Markakis was not yet back from his wrist injury, after which he tore up the lead off spot before CC Sabathia lost command of his inside fastball.

One year ago today, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman had each only made one start.  Today, they are positioned nicely as a 3-4 combination and have kept pace with what they provided in the second half of 2012.

All of this is said for one reason.  The 2013 Orioles are a better team up and down than the 2012 version.  History can often give some much needed context when the perspective is a little blurry.  This team is not going away anytime soon.