Early gloom is palpable in Birdland, but, hey, Andrew Cashner is doing his part so far - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Early gloom is palpable in Birdland, but, hey, Andrew Cashner is doing his part so far

All I can say is thank goodness for right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Or this site might have to be renamed BaltimoreCrocheting.com or something equally less controversial, something that doesn’t get the emotions going, something that may not pay the bills.

Let’s face it. This has not been a good winter/spring for the Orioles or, in particular, their fans.

The team won 75 games last year and finished in last place.

And the roster does not look appreciably better in 2018, while the division rival New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox seem to be better than they were in 2017, when they both were playoff teams.

Meanwhile, the worst rotation in the history of the Orioles’ franchise added Cashner and got rid of Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley and Jeremy Hellickson.

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Maybe that’s addition by subtraction, but no obvious fifth starter has emerged and skeptics abound in regards to fourth starter Chris Tillman, who had a career worst campaign in 2017 and then walked six of 14 batters in his first Grapefruit League outing this week.

And while the Orioles have poked around the free-agent edges, the Philadelphia Phillis have signed old friend Jake Arrieta to a three-year (albeit expensive) contract and Lance Lynn inked a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins.

The Twins are not exactly the deep-pocket Red Sox and Yankees. Although, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Orioles aren’t getting pitchers on one-year, make-good deals unless they overpay significantly or those pitchers have few other suitors. No one is coming to Camden Yards and pitching versus the American League East when solid alternatives are presented.

The Orioles’ bullpen should be fine again, but it has already lost closer Zach Britton through May due to an offseason Achilles injury.

And the offense should score some runs, but it is still rather one dimensional and fairly right-handed. Now designated hitter Mark Trumbo is out for a few weeks with a strained right quad and first baseman Chris Davis hasn’t played since March 2 due to a sore right elbow.

Some may believe it’s a good thing not having Trumbo and Davis, who had rough 2017 seasons. It’s not. For the Orioles to be more competitive this year, they need Trumbo and Davis to have rebound seasons, not prolonged absences.

Yes, there have been injuries, and key holes not filled, and some shaky performances at the back end of the rotation.

There also have been more wins than losses in the exhibition seasons and encouraging play from some Orioles youngsters.

Cashner, who is the club’s big free-agent addition, has done his part to shrink the pit of misery, allowing just one run in five innings Friday against the New York Mets. He’s now allowed one run in nine innings in his two Grapefruit League starts. Kevin Gausman’s also looked fairly good. Dylan Bundy has offered mix performances.

Ultimately, none of this matters – except the key injuries, of course.

Still, it’s only March. And soon I’ll be typing it’s only April, and then only May.

You can’t judge a 162-game season by the first two months of the regular season. And certainly not in March.

That said, I’ve heard more vitriol about this team from fans this spring than I have since the spring of 2012, which, incidentally, gave way to a pretty good regular season.

There are legitimate deficiencies here; I’m not minimizing it. There are some real reasons fans – and the organization — should have concerns.

But let it play out a little. BaltimoreCrocheting.com has a terrible ring to it.

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