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O's will stay 'under' 73.5 wins

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LAS VEGASBaseball regular-season win totals are up at the Las Vegas Hilton. Already one bargain has been found: The Baltimore Orioles Under 73 ½ victories.

Not to knock the bookmakers at the Hilton, who could be the best in Nevada, but maybe they should look twice at what division the Orioles are in.

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Baltimore may be improved, although that’s highly debatable, but they aren’t going to win 74 games competing in the American League Eastern Division. That’s the toughest division in baseball.

Tampa Bay, Boston, the New York Yankees and Toronto were a combined 86 games above .500 last year. Each of those clubs was at least 10 games above .500.

The defending American League champion Rays were 97-65. The Red Sox went 95-67. The Yankees were 89-73 and figure to be greatly improved with their free agent signings. Baltimore is going to have face those teams a combined 54 times.

The Orioles have Melvin Mora batting third.

The Orioles have huge question marks at catcher, shortstop and first base.

The Orioles have starting pitching problems behind Jeremy Guthrie unless you think Radhames Liz, Brad Hennessey and Mark Hendrickson are quality.

Only the Texas Rangers posted a higher ERA than Baltimore. The Orioles’ ERA last season was 5.13.

By comparison, Toronto led the majors in ERA with a staff mark of 3.48. Tampa Bay ranked third at 3.78 and Boston was 10th at 4.01.

Aside from Nick Markakis, the Orioles really have nothing on offense. Heck, Aubrey Huff figures to be their clean-up hitter.

Baltimore is not a team that is going to be able to crack the 73-win barrier.

  
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