Friday, May 29, 2009

Wieters' arrival a date to mark on your calendar

We saw last season what an influx of young talent can do to a solid team. Evan Longoria's arrival in Tampa Bay turned a solid team into a great one. David Price didn't hurt either, en route to the American League pennant. While the expectations should be slightly lower for the Baltimore Orioles this year, Matt Wieters' debut tonight is no less important for the future of the AL East.

The Joe Mauer comparisons are inevitable. The kid is a four-tool player (minus speed) who plays one of the most critical (and talent weak) positions in the sport. Expect Wieters, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts to cause headaches as the pennant race heats up. The Orioles may not yet be in position to challenge for the title, but once the crop of young pitchers the O's are training in the minor leagues hit, the AL East will be completely up for grabs.

At no point in my baseball viewing career have I seen a division as stocked with talent as the East has the potential to be in two years. If the Rays can hold onto their players, and the Jays add a reliable power bat and an arm or two around Roy Halladay that they can truly rely on, the division could end up with any team that plays there for years. The competition promises tons of drama, and a lot of hurt feelings. Buckle your seatbelts. One Oriole jokingly called him the "switch-hitting Jesus."

But the first step towards this supreme East will occur tonight, when the 23-year-old switch-hitter steps in against Detroit for his first Major League at-bat. We'll all get to see what he can do over the next chunk of time. He hit .400 in spring training, but his competition is certainly going to raise a level here in the regular season.

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