Another season begins at Harbor Park in Norfolk Virginia tomorrow evening. The weather looks decent but in the evening there is a 30% chance of scattered storms with the chances going up after 10 PM. Last year we were rained out and hopefully this will not be the case this year. Both the Tides and their parent club the Orioles are much improved in terms of depth compared to last year. The Orioles have solidified their offense with a number of solid veterans as well as had a number of last year’s crop of rookies to include Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold as well as the youthful All-Star Adam Jones and their pitching staff is deep with many young arms. The Baltimore outfield in particular has depth and could in the long run produce a number of All-Stars with Reimold, Jones and Nick Markakis. The infield with veterans Brian Roberts, Garrett Atkins and Miguel Tejada and Caesar Izturis The pitching staff is still young but should they mature this year could be a formidable staff. Added to the mix this year is Brian Matuz who went from AA Bowie directly to the Orioles at the end of last season and veteran Kevin Millwood. Waiting in the wings is another bumper crop of young pitchers who in not too much time could easily be starters or relievers on the O’s or used to help the team acquire other personnel through trades.
The Tides roster is deep. Last year the Tides were amazing until an injury riddled Orioles team with little depth was forced to call up many of the Tides by the end of May. Prior to the massive number of call ups the Tides were playing well over .700 baseball and routinely crushing their opposition. The pitching staff suffered similarly to the hitters and after the call ups the power evaporated and even with decent hitting the tables were turned. This year the Tides are deep, many young prospects as well as some seasoned young players who have some major league experience. I have had the pleasure of meeting many of the young Tides pitchers last year and most are returning this year. The Tides are stocked with young players with some Major League experience thanks to last year’s call ups. They are deep in pitching and have many excellent position players. Since the Orioles have some depth at the Major League level the Tides, baring an epidemic of injuries at Baltimore should keep a solid team together for much of the year and with that win the International League South and possibly compete for the Governor’s Cup Championship. That is great for the fans but even more important is the chance to groom the members of this team for service on the Orioles without having to rush them into service as was the case in 2009. The Orioles are also deep to the AA level with a number of players at Bowie who will certainly fleet up to the Tides and perhaps like Matuz head up to the Orioles if needed.
Baltimore will probably do much better than last year and while they may not be ready to challenge the Yankees or Red Sox this year could well by 2011. If the Orioles were not in the same division as New York and Boston they might even this year compete for a playoff spot if they were in the AL Central or the AL West.
Tomorrow I will go and take my seat in Section 102 Row B seat one as the Tides pitch Chris Tillman against Durham. It should be good as I meet up with the faithful including Elliott and Chip the Ushers, Ray, John and the Vietnam Veterans of America chapter who man the beer stand behind home plate, Marty the Card Dealer, Kenny “Crabman” the Pretzel Guy as well as General Manager Dave Rosenfield and the rest of the staff. I think that it will be a great year for the Tides a good year for the Orioles.