In my last blog I said the Orioles' defensive upgrades would pay dividends in the future.
The rotation this year is a huge question mark. A strong defensive team is only going to help. That being said, the point of the blog was to emphasize the word "future" - as in late 2009 and beyond.
The readers who pointed out that Andy MacPhail might be putting the cart before the horse this season are exactly right. Pitching is a bigger need right now than defense, but I don't see any error in his plan.
Sure, the defensive upgrades have been added to the Orioles roster before the stockpile of young minor league pitchers arrive. Players like Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and even Brian Matusz are at least one, two or even three years away from being big league ready.
What's the problem with that? What's wrong with having a strong defense in place before they get here? Pitching takes time to develop in the farm system. Defense you can trade for or buy in free agency overnight.
MacPhail has locked up defensive pillars like Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts and Cesar Izturis for at least two years or more; having them here when those young arms debut is a great blueprint.
MacPhail has created a defensive team that will allow him to plug young pitchers into the mix over the next few years. He is providing defensive stability ahead of time.
As for the argument that Felix Pie shouldn't be in the list of defensive upgrades, there are a few counterarguments.
Yes, he's had a few errors at spring training, but it's never good to judge a player completely on his performance in the spring, especially an outfielder.
First, there's the issue of playing all day games in Florida with a high sun. Then, there's the fact that Pie is making the transition to left field. He played center field with the Cubs.
Also, let me remind everyone, in Pie's limited time with the Cubs, defense was his strength. It was his lack of hitting, and the fact that he was out of options that made him expendable.
Plus, the blog entry was about defense not offense---but okay---I'll bite.
Pie's situation in Chicago is eerily familiar to Adam Jones situation in Seattle. Both were defensively sound prospects who never exploded with the bat.
It was impressive to see the improvement and promise Jones showed in 2008 after given the chance to play every day with the Orioles.
Before we jump to the conclusion that Pie can't hit, let's see what he does with a team he knows is behind him one hundred percent and that writes his name in the lineup every day.
As for the current state of the O's pitching rotation, trust me, I'm not the only Baltimorean biting my nails---but that's a whole other blog topic.
Talk amongst yourselves, we'll revisit that discussion later.