After weeks of speculation, the Orioles finally signed their first baseman to finish the rebuilding of their infield. 

Derrek Lee will join recent signings J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds in making up the Orioles new infield, and more importantly, inject some power into an offense that was horribly stagnant in 2010.

The trio of Lee, Reynolds and Hardy will no doubt be better than last year’s trio of Ty Wigginton, Miguel Tejada and Cesar Izturis. However, exactly how much better it will be and whether it will be noticeable is a different story.

Starting with the pessimistic view – because after 13 terrible years, it is all the average Orioles fan has – all three are coming off dreadful seasons.

In fact, all three were very similar in that they saw diminished production due to spending the majority of the season playing through injury. 

Reynolds had issues with a quadriceps, Hardy had a deep bone bruise in his wrist, and Lee spent the entire season playing with a torn ligament in his right thumb.

This means that the entire Orioles infield will come into this season as injury prone. In addition to the injuries of Hardy, Reynolds and Lee, The Orioles infield is comprised of Matt Wieters, who played 130 games, and Brian Roberts, who was limited to just 59.

Considering the Orioles can’t afford another terrible season with this young core, a team full of injury-prone players seems like a big risk.

Lee is also 35 years old and many have questioned his bat speed and exactly how much he has left in the tank.

On the other hand, the Orioles just bought these three guys at their lowest possible values. They got Reynolds and Hardy with a couple of low-level prospects, and Lee with a one-year deal worth somewhere between $8 million and $10 million. 

If they can get healthy, all three can be solid players and could be the pieces the Orioles were missing last season. 

Reynolds is good for 40-plus home runs a year, and Hardy has good power for a shortstop. Finally, Lee has consistently batted .300 and been good for at least 20 home runs and 80 RBIs every season.

In comparison, the trio of Wigginton, Izturis and Tejada hit just 30 home runs and 143 RBIs in 2010 combined.

Add the numbers of the Reynolds, Hardy and Lee to the production outfield of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Felix Pie/Nolan Reimold, and the Orioles could have a fairly productive offense. 

It may not strike fear into pitchers like it would if management had been able to sign Paul Konerko or Victor Martinez, but it will be able to score runs pretty consistently, and that’s what’s important.

With the Red Sox getting better by adding the likes of Carl Crawford and the Yankees being, well, the Yankees, it is hard to predict what the Orioles will do in 2011.

However, after spending seemingly an eternity in the pits, maybe the Orioles are close to seeing the sun rise.

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