This off-season The Nats Blog will be conducting a series of interviews with sites from all thirty teams. One team a week leading up to the start of the 2011 baseball season. This week I talked with Stacey Long from Camden Chat, one of the top blogs for our close rivals, the Baltimore Orioles.
TNB: Buck Showalter came in mid-season and posted an impressive 34-23 record. Is the team finally turning the corner?
Camden Chat: This team is definitely better than it played at the beginning of 2010, but not nearly as good as they played at the end of 2010. I believe the Buck Showalter is a great fit for the team and I believe he will continue to have a positive impact. But this team needs a lot more talent before any corners will be turned.
TNB: Are you disappointed with Matt Wieters production thus far? What do you expect moving forward?
Camden Chat: I can't help but be a little disappointed by Matt Wieters so far, although I am trying very hard to maintain optimism. Wieters spent 2010 becoming a very good defensive catcher, putting up a 31% success rate at throwing out runners and allowing just two passed balls. He also had the responsibility of guiding a young pitching staff. 98 of the Orioles starts were made by pitchers 25 years or younger and with less than two years major league experience, and by all accounts he handled them wonderfully.
It is a bummer that his hitting hasn't come around the way everyone believed it would. He still has less than 1,000 major league plate appearances, though, and went through stretches where he looked to be putting it together. 2011 will be a huge year in determining what kind of player Wieters will be, so all verdicts on him are in a holding pattern until then.
TNB: What effect, if any, has the creation of the Nationals had on the Orioles franchise?
Camden Chat: It's had little effect, I think. The Orioles have certainly lost a few fans to the Nationals franchise, although as a die hard fan myself I say that if you'll abandon your team like that, we don't need you in the first place. It's hard to say if attendance has suffered since the Orioles have been horrible since the Nats moved in and that alone is enough to drive people away. And supposedly the Orioles have more money thanks to MASN, which gets some help from the Nationals, but I have yet to see any evidence of that helping the team.
TNB: Brian Roberts had issues with his back early in 2010 and played in just 59 games. He is also under contract through 2013. Do the Orioles plan on sticking with him to the end?
Camden Chat: At this point, yes. If 2011 brings more of the same then something will have to be done. But as it stands, second base is the only position on the infield that isn't currently a question mark, so the Orioles have bigger things to worry about than the possibility that Roberts might re-injure himself.
TNB: Luke Scott flew under the radar by leading the team with 27 home runs and driving in 72 runs. Will we see him in an Orioles uniform next season?
Camden Chat: My current inclination is that he will be in an Orioles uniform next season. He was the team's best offensive performer in 2010 and while he spent most of his time at designated hitter he is versatile enough to play left field and first base. He's not a free agent for two more seasons and therefore will remain relatively inexpensive, and he's currently the only real power on the team. He's a good guy to have around.