While discussing Derrek Lee's placement in the lineup and which players might fit into other slots, manager Buck Showalter mentioned how you can get a pretty good read on a team by looking at its 7-8-9 hitters.
Signing Lee and trading for Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy has left the Orioles with a potentially deeper lineup than past seasons.
Showalter seems inclined, at least a month before spring training, to bat Nick Markakis second and Lee third. He wants to keep Adam Jones lower in the order, probably behind Reynolds and Luke Scott. Sounds like sixth to me.
Depending on the opposing pitcher and who starts in left field, the last three spots could be occupied by Matt Wieters, Hardy and Felix Pie, or Wieters, Nolan Reimold and Hardy.
The Orioles are counting on a bounce-back year from Hardy - they seem to do that a lot around here - which could give them a shortstop near or at the bottom who hit 26 homers in 2007 and 24 in 2008. Reimold hit 15 homers in 358 at-bats in 2009. Wieters is supposed to be hitting a lot more of them.
Last year, the Opening Day lineup included Pie hitting seventh, Garret Atkins eighth and Cesar Izturis ninth.
Which do you prefer?
The 2009 Opening Day lineup had Luke Scott batting seventh, Gregg Zaun eighth and Izturis ninth. In 2008, Scott hit seventh, Jones eighth and ... wait for it ... Luis Hernandez ninth.
In 2007, Kevin Millar hit seventh, Corey Patterson eighth and Paul Bako ninth. Ramon Hernandez was hurt.
If you're wondering about the last two playoff teams, Chris Hoiles batted seventh, Tony Tarasco eighth and Jeffrey Hammonds ninth in 1996. Hammonds batted seventh, Hoiles eighth and Jeff Reboulet ninth in 1997. Roberto Alomar was suspended for the first five games, so Reboulet started at second base.