Greetings, Nestgoers! We are trying out a new feature here at the Nest, “Six Pack of Boh.” Yeah, I know, we stole it from the six pack of Coors Light Questions that ESPN does. Get over it (Little known fact: Coors light bottles actually turn blue because Mr. Boh beats the crap out of them). Anyway, we’ll answer 6 questions on the O’s and Ravens. There is plenty of news to cover this week, with the Ravens opening training camp, the news that Adam Loewen’s pitching career is over, and the MLB trade deadline approaching. Without further adeiu, lets crack into that first Boh!
1. Can Adam Loewen transform himself into a position player, a la Rick Ankiel?
It certainly won’t be easy. Loewen hasn’t hit on a regular basis since college, in 2003. That year, he hit .353 with a homer and 38 RBI in 45 games, according to the Sun. Those are respectable numbers, no doubt, but it was against junior college competition – most of the pitchers he was facing are now probably filling out TPS reports and trying to find their staplers somewhere down in Swamp Muck, Florida. Ankiel’s story is one that Loewen can look at for inspiration, but to think he will have that kind of success is probably a pipe dream. We feel for the kid and wish him all the luck in the world, we really do. But if he ever steps into the batters’ box in Camden Yards as a member of the O’s, it will definitely be a shock to us.
2. Will John Harbaugh’s tougher training camp lead to more wins for the Ravens in 2008?
As we’ve all had beaten into our heads repeatedly for the last few months, Ravens’ training camp under Coach Harbaugh figures to be a 180o deviation from “Camp Creampuff,” run by Brian Billick. Players will see more full-pads practices, with more hitting and more time spent in the sweltering Mid-Atlantic humidity. They will be forced to remain on campus, not allowed to go home at night as in the past. But does any of this translate to NFL wins? Yes. And No. The Giants’ Tom Coughlin is a disciplinarian who runs a tight ship. But it took him loosening the reigns a bit (as well as his Quarterback finally seeing the light) for him to win his first Super Bowl. John Gruden is tough on his players down in Tampa, and they’ve made the Playoffs 2 of the last 3 seasons. Some players (I’m looking at you, Willis) will benefit from the increased conditioning, but some of the Ravens’ creaky veterans may find themselves dealing with a bit more soreness and aches than they’d like. If the toughness leads to more self-discipline on the part of the players – that is, less stupid false starts, offsides, and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties – then we’re all for it. That in itself could be the difference in a game or two per season. But it seems doubtful that the players on last years’ squad only won 5 games because they were “soft” or out-of-shape.
3. Who will the Orioles move before the trade deadline?
The team has been very quiet this month, but their recent 4-10 slide has pretty much solidified that they will be sellers at the deadline. Everyone’s favorite trade rumor, Brian Roberts, will in all likelihood, finish the season as a Bird. The latest speculation was that the Milwaukee Brewers might have some interest, but they just acquired the fossilized remains of Ray Durham to haunt second base. Brian’s no spring chicken, but he still has several years of top-of-the-line leadoff hitter years left in him, so keeping him around is the right move. Aubrey Huff, on the other hand, will probably end up on a contender somewhere. His blistering numbers over the past 6 weeks or so have his stock at an all-time high, and Andy MacPhail will likely strike while the iron is hot. We probably won’t fleece anybody like we did the Mariners, but Huff can bring in at least 2 or 3 mid-to-high level prospects. Contenders in need of relief are no doubt sending scouts to check out George Sherrill. The Orioles MVP to this point, Sherrill also is seeing his stock peak, and should draw the interest of any team looking for a set-up man. Jay Payton will probably be out of B’More by August, and Kevin Millar has an outside chance of drawing some interest (although we’d like to see him stay). Let’s cross our fingers that one of these guys brings us the shortstop of the future.
4. What interesting position battles should we watch during training camp?
There are several spots on the roster that could be up for grabs before the opener. Obviously, the main battle is at Quarterback. We’ll delve into that one a bit deeper in due time. Right now we want to look at some of the other interesting competitions that may develop.
Wide Receiver: A healthy Derrick Mason will probably remain the official “#1” wideout. But at #2, things might be a bit murky. Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams both had disappointing 2007 seasons after promising ’06 campaigns. Clayton has the better pedigree, a former 2nd round pick out of Oklahoma, but he needs to show more elusiveness after the catch and ability to get open like he did in 2006. Cam Cameron likes bigger receivers, which gives an edge to the 6’2” Williams (Clayton is listed at 5’10”). Either way, they both need to rebound after last year.
Cornerback: Samari Rolle and Fabian Washington will duke it out for the second spot. Washington is looking to prove himself after falling out of favor in Oakland. Rolle battled epilepsy in 2007, and wasn’t himself when he did get on the field. If Rolle is healthy, he probably gets the spot, relegating Washington to nickel back. After the woes the Ravens secondary went through last year, having another capable corner on the roster is music to our ears, anyway.
After 4 Bohs, we’re feeling tipsy enough to make some bold predictions now.
5. What record will the O’s finish the season with?
76-86. A 7-game improvement over last season, and quite a bit shy of the 100-loss season some were predicting. Still only good enough for 5th place in the $%&$! American League East.
6. And the Ravens?
8-8. John Harbaugh’s first season ends with the same record as Brian Billick’s. This barely misses the playoffs in the AFC North, where 9-7 will likely win the division this year. But do we really want to get in the playoffs at 8-8? What is this, the pansy ass NFC?
Have a question for the next 6-pack of Boh at the Nest? Submit it in the comments, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!