The season ended, and that usually means I need a little bit of time to decompress, evaluate, and consider the things that have happened. I also like to sit down and absorb what the rest of the baseball world is saying about the team and where they need to go next year. For the first time since I began blogging I actually expected the tone directed toward the Orioles to be different, I should have known that wouldn't be the case.
The general perception remains that the Orioles are not a team that has finally turned a corner rather, the Orioles are still just a lucky team that is unlikely to compete in 2013. Sports Illustrated's Joel Sheenan said as much in his AL East Hot Stove Preivew
"The Orioles have to not buy into the hype. They weren't a 93-win team, but rather, a .500 team that got a bit lucky. Their focus has to be not on 2013, when they're likely to regress back below par..."
I'm not going to sit here and go through all of the numbers, again, that show the Orioles were playing like legitimate contenders for 2/3rds of the season and one dreadful stretch skewed their overall numbers, as far as run differential goes because that is all that seems to matter nowadays, but I'm not. It won't matter anyway. If the Orioles had beaten the Yankees then maybe they would have finally erased that narrative. But they were unable to get past a feckless Yankee squad, that was summarily dismissed in Detroit, so questions remain.
The greatest indictment of the Orioles' fortunes has come from the voting for the Executive of the Year. The Sporting News' survey of 57 MLB executives chose Billy Beane for the honor but the Orioles' GM Dan Duquette was completely shut out, not receiving a single vote. The GM that ran a team that fielded 52 different players; the GM that traded Jeremy Guthrie for Jason Hammel and took a team that was THE perennial laughing-stock of the American League to the third-best record in the AL gets nothing. TH hysterical thing is, when you read the SN write-up of Beane's accomplishments you could say the exact same thing about Duquette:
"Although Oakland’s second-half offensive improvement was key to its success, it was the rotation that led the way...The end result was a 94-win team—only the New York Yankees finished with more wins (95) in the AL—that revitalized the franchise and its rabid fan base..."
It really is quite remarkable that the baseball world still doesn't seem to think the Orioles are a serious team to be reckoned with in 2013.
In other news; Rick Peterson was thought to be on his way out the door. He was widely considered to be the number one choice for pitching coach. Having just hired Jon Farrell, his longtime friend, and the accolades from Ferrell were huge. Inexplicably the Red Sox decided against Peterson opting instead for Juan Nieves. Peterson is a sort of pitching guru that focuses on in-depth statistical dissection and bio-mechanical study. It is not a secret that not everyone in the organization completely buys into his methods - but the results speak for themselves. Peterson is under contract until the end of the calendar year, if another pitching coach position opens up between now and then we shall see, but I feel confident that Peterson will return to his role with the Orioles next year.
As the Hot Stove season begins the Orioles have been linked to Zack Grenkie, Josh Hamilton Nick Swisher and the usual slate of free agents. But one name that really sticks out to me is Billy Butler. Currently controlled by the Royals Butler would have to be acquired through trade and may cost something significant but I would love to see Butler on this team. Butler has posted an OPS of over .850 in each of his last four seasons, and that was in Kansas City and it's massive ballpark. Last year Butler posted an .893 OPS on the road. He would cost a pretty penny, but he would also be the true middle of the order bat that the Birds still lack, despite the amount of homers they hit last year. On top of that Butler has a career OBP in the .360's and OBP'd at a .373 rate last year.
Plus I am pretty sure he could hit the Warehouse.
As the fall slowly chills into to winter the Orioles look to have a busy offseason. Dan Duquette came into his position with a team in complete disarray and a dozen moves later the 2012 Orioles went to the playoffs. The expectations are much higher in 2013, the time for decompression is over, the time for reflection has past 2013 is on the horizon and Duquette has a job to do.