• Jan

    Pie gives O's an offensive foundation in outfield

    Andy MacPhail can look down on his farm and see a foundation for his starting pitching in Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, and Jake Arrieta. After acquiring outfielder Felix Pie from the Chicago Cubs for left-hander Garrett Olson, he now can look in his outfield for a good part of an offensive foundation.

    MacPhail traded for the soon to be 24-year old outfielder who has teased the Cubs with his tools and solid minor league numbers. Pie was named the 27th overall prospect in all of the minor leagues in 2006 by Baseball America and put up a .973 OPS as a 22-year old in AAA 2007. Unfortunately for him and the Cubs, Pie has yet to see that success translate to the big leagues where he hit .223 with three home runs and a .615 OPS in 260 major league at bats over the last two years.

    Although Pie has mainly been a center fielder in the minor leagues, he will play left field for the Orioles since Adam Jones patrols center field for the Orioles. Pie, who will be 24 in February, will join Jones, 22, and Nick Markakis, 25, in a young outfield that will cover a lot of ground defensively and gives the Orioles some nice projectability offensively. Combine this with the news that the Orioles are close to signing Markakis to a six-year extension, and things are looking up for the Orioles as they continue to rebuild the organization. The Orioles now have a young talented outfield to go along with a potential super star catcher in Matt Wieters to build their offense around and that's not a bad start.

    As much as I've been fan of Olson, the Orioles gave him 33 major league starts over the last two years with less than stellar results. He put up a 6.87 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP with a 111 to 90 K-BB ratio in 165 innings pitched. Even worse, Olson seemed to regress last season when he put up a 7.89 ERA in 12 starts after the all-star break. Olson's command and even worse, his stuff seems to have fallen off with his promotion to the major leagues with some people wondering if the lower seams on the major league ball has affected his feel. On top of it, some believe Olson was too analytical on the mound and just couldn't get over the nerves of pitching in the big leagues.

    Saying that, the Padres have coveted Olson for sometime now and there's thoughts that the Cubs could flip Olson to San Diego in a deal involving Jake Peavy. Sources have told me the Orioles could have traded Olson for shortstop Khalil Green straight up earlier this off season, but it appeared MacPhail was leery of Greene due to his impending free agency after next season. San Diego might be the perfect place for the Californian-born Olson since it's a pitcher's park and perhaps the change of scenery will allow him to relax a little and let his trust his stuff. I personally think Olson can become a solid back of the rotation starter or at worse a good swingman in the major leagues if he can find the right comfort level.

    Pie will now become the Orioles regular left-fielder who can fill in for Jones in center field. This move Luke Scott to DH and Aubrey Huff to first base. Since all of these guys are left-handed hitters, right-handed hitting Ryan Freel will now be the main backup except at first base where Chris Gomez is expected to be the main backup there. The acquisition of Pie makes it unlikely the Oscar Salazar will break camp with the Orioles barring an injury if they go through with their plan to break camp with 13 pitchers. The three man bench would consist of Freel, Gomez, and a backup catcher behind newly acquired Greg Zaun.

    Barring any more trades, the Orioles opening day lineup should look like this:

    1. 2B - Brian Roberts
    2. CF- Adam Jones
    3. RF- Nick Markakis
    4. 1B - Aubrey Huff
    5. 3B - Melvin Mora
    6. DH - Luke Scott
    7. C - Greg Zaun
    8. LF - Felix Pie
    9. SS - Cesar Itzuris

    One other thing, I know a lot of you are going to call him Pie, like apple pie, but his name is pronounced Pee-ay.

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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.