Commentary

The future for last-place teams

April's six bottom-feeders have time to turn things around -- and tough decisions ahead

Updated: April 26, 2011, 12:12 PM ET
By Dan Szymborski | Baseball Think Factory
Vladimir GuerreroJ. Meric/Getty ImagesVladimir Guerrero has struggled with Baltimore this season.

While September is the worst time of year to be in last place, it's not much more fun being there in April. If your team was expected to be a contender, it's painful to see your offseason plan unravel so quickly, and for rebuilding teams it is a signal to fans that there won't be any fairy tale runs this season.

However, it is still early in the season, which means that there's plenty of time for the also-rans to either turn their seasons around, or, if that's not in the cards, start moving toward long-term goals. So, what's in store for the current cellar dwellers? We examined each of them to find out.

Baltimore Orioles (8-12, 4½ games back)

After a 6-1 start that had the Orioles in first place, the wheels came off the apple cart and the O's lost eight games in a row -- and 11 of 13 -- and find themselves in the familiar spot of last place.

While the team had expectations of finishing .500 or better after aggressively trading for Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy and signing Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero, a little shot of reality isn't the worst thing for the franchise. The American League East is a tough division and the Orioles are not done rebuilding. Lee (.211/.294/.276) and Guerrero (.265/.265/.398) will play better than they have to this point, but their primary value to the Orioles remains what they can be traded for when that happens.

Reynolds and Hardy are still young enough for the Orioles to hang onto going forward (there are no big third base prospects on the horizon and blue-chip shortstop prospect Manny Machado is a few years away), so Baltimore's biggest priority going forward is to evaluate who it wants to keep long-term and who it should be shopping in July.