As the 2019 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.
What is it people always say? "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
Well, if we're going by that logic, this is going to be a mighty short synopsis of the 2019 Baltimore Orioles. There's pretty much nothing nice to say about the Birds.
You'd like to think that there's nowhere to go but up after last year's 115-loss season (see, White Sox fans, someone had it worse than you), but a quick perusal of this roster and maybe that's not exactly the case. Where is this team going to find any wins? Especially considering they play in one of baseball's toughest divisions, one that includes a pair of uber teams in the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, who both won at least 100 games in 2018. You want to know how they did that? They played the Orioles 19 times apiece and went a combined 28-10. Throw in the potentially playoff-bound Tampa Bay Rays, and that's a lot of projected losses before the O's even get out of their division.
And so here comes everyone's favorite word: "rebuild." The Orioles, though, seemingly have a much longer way to go than the White Sox, still in the thick of their rebuilding project on the South Side.
Manny Machado was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer. Adam Jones is now an Arizona Diamondback. The only remaining vestige of the supposed "glory days" (three playoff appearances over a five-year stretch, with a 6-8 record in those postseason games) is Chris Davis, who had a jaw-droppingly bad year in 2018, with a .168/.243/.296 slash line and 192 strikeouts in just 128 games. He'll make $92 million over the next four seasons. Yikes.
Despite that sub-.170 batting average, Davis is still projected to be a middle-of-the-order hitter for the Orioles this season, perhaps as good an example as any of what the lineup around him looks like. See if you can find the O's league-mandated All Star in this bunch: Cedric Mullins, Jonathan Villar, Trey Mancini, Renato Nunez, Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, Chance Sisco and Richie Martin — who at 24 years old is probably not the "La Vida Loca" guy. Probably.
Yes, it was just a year ago when the O's seemed to capitalize on the slow-moving market and sign Alex Cobb to a four-year, $57 million deal. But then Cobb put up a nearly 5.00 ERA and allowed a career-high 24 home runs. Dylan Bundy and Andrew Cashner — two former can't-miss prospects — had ERAs well north of 5.00 in 2018. Cashner ranked in the top 10 in the American League with his 65 walks.
As you might imagine, none of this is any good for the Orioles, who are so all in on rebuilding at this point that their lone offseason acquisitions were Alcides Escobar (who owns a .281 on-base percentage in three seasons since his Kansas City Royals won the World Series), Nate Karns (a pitcher) and a pair of Rule 5 guys.
They've got a few guys in the farm system, three of them ranked in the top 100 prospects in the game, but their arrival dates aren't exactly looming. Yusniel Diaz is their highest rated prospect, the highest rated player in the Machado trade last July, and he's coming off a .392 on-base percentage in 2018.
Brighter days ahead? There would have to be for this team. But as other fan bases going through rebuilding projects know, these things take time. Those brighter days won't be coming in 2019. But at least Marylanders can gorge themselves on crabs and nice summer days at the beach.
2018 record: 47-115, fifth place in AL East
Offseason additions: Alcides Escobar, Nate Karns, Richie Martin, Drew Jackson
Offseason departures: Adam Jones, Tim Beckham, Caleb Joseph
X-factor: Mychal Givens is the Orioles' closer, and he was fine last season. He had a 10.2 K/9 in the first half. He had a 3.49 ERA in the second half. Remember, these are the Orioles and the silver linings are difficult to come by.
1. Cedric Mullins, CF
2. Jonathan Villar, 2B
3. Trey Mancini, LF
4. Chris Davis, 1B
5. Renato Nunez, 3B
6. Anthony Santander, DH
7. Austin Hays, RF
8. Chance Sisco, C
9. Richie Martin, SS
1. Dylan Bundy
2. Alex Cobb
3. Andrew Cashner
4. David Hess
5. Mike Wright Jr.
Prediction: Fifth place in AL EastClick here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.