This is the week that everything needs to come together. The question is will it?
1) BRob - (Status - still fragile) The press is not reporting Brian's arm strength problems but every Hangout member that has been to Florida has seen the problem. He is hitting surprising well and probably gets first shot at the leadoff spot.
2) Markakis (Status - No longer the iron man) Doctors say Nick will not be 100% for months. The question is how much of Nick's ability will be there in the first month? This week he tries to rush to be ready for Opening Day but there are no guarantees he will be able to pull it together. He could be one swing away from the DL.
3) Jones - (Status - At least he is in camp) How much did the WBC take away from his preparation? The Tampa pitching staff will be a hard test to start the season. Can he pull it together this week?
4) Wieters - (Status - Rockin' and rollin') Buck has been playing him in the clean up spot. He is hot. Can he carry it into the season?
5) Davis - (Status - Power is there but how about consistency) Looks fine at 1B. Same power as last year. But he has the streaky tag. With 600 at bats available to him, can he have the big year?
6) Reimold - (Status - Opportunity knocks/Health questions remain) The power is undeniable. But so is the vulnerability to injury. DH is wide open. RH leftfielder is needed. Its all there for him if he can stay healthy. But can he?
7) Machado - (Status - Developing star) Continued flashes of brilliance at 3B. Consistent. Hitting developing. We know there is power. High expectations.
8) McLouth - (Status - Looks like a platoon LF) Buck has barely played him vs lefties this spring. He is the O's best leftfielder defensively. Spring hitting is much like last year. Can he put it all together for a full season?
9) Hardy - (Status GG SS/coming off a bad offensive year) Everyday defensive standout. But spring bat is no better than last year. Power but no average. Buck says he knows where the finish line is. We'll see.
10) Teagarden - (Status - Ready to go) No back problems lately. Solid Backup catcher when healthy.
11) Casilla - (Status - Glove man with speed) Will see action at 2B/SS when needed. Pinch runner. Defensive back up for BRob. Probably will not hit much.
12) Betemit - (Status - Probably limited to those pitchers he hits) Wilson has not hit this spring. And Reimold/Pearce/Jackson/Ford will impact his playing time at DH. Still he has a 865 OPS vs righthanded pitching over the last three year. So Buck will probably play him vs those pitchers he has hit in the past. Defensively he looks much better this spring. Fit. He will backup 3B/and some 1B.
13) Pearce/Jackson/Ford - (Status - Only Buck knows and he is not telling) The final spot is about hitting lefthanded pitching and playing leftfield. Betemit's unexpected good play this spring makes 1B play not a requirement but an option. DH and LF vs lefthanders. Jump ball on who gets it.
Starters - Hammel, Chen, Tillman, Gonzalez (Status - Unknown) Buck has hidden them for everyone. They are healthy but how they will come out of the gate is anyone's guess. We will see Chen today. Maybe Tillman vs the Pirates on Sunday. Maybe Tillman and Gonzo vs Manatees and Mets on Friday and Sat.
5th Starter - (Status - Competitive) - Matusz and Arrieta in the running with Jurrjens with a slight chance. Arrieta appears to be lined up for role. Only Buck and Adair know what factors make the winner. Who will it be?
Pen - (Status - a solid five) J Johnson, Strop, O'Day, Ayala and Patton ready to go.
Hunter - (Status - I think he is in) I don't see a trade but others have different opinions.
McFarland/Matusz - (Status - TBD) This is a big week for McFarland. He needs to see major league hitters. If he does and does well he stays IMO. If he doesn't he is returned. What will happen? Anyone's guess.
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