We’re about halfway through the offseason and the notion amongst fans, along with the media is that the Baltimore Orioles have not done much to improve their roster.
The Orioles, as we all know, had an impressive 2012 season that culminated in their first playoff berth in over 15 years. One would have thought that the organization would have found another bat, plus perhaps another arm to bolster a team that has a strong core with players like Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis.
Aside from re-signing Nate McLouth and finding guys such as pitchers Daniel Schlereth and Zach Braddock along with first-baseman Travis Ishikawa, the Orioles need to do more. The local media have said from day one of the off-season that the Orioles would not have any high-dollar signings such as a Zack Grienke and Josh Hamilton based on their sources.
They were right.
I would like the organization to take a shot on someone; however, it seems like the Orioles want to get pieces they want via trade.
There’s still quite a bit of time before Spring Training kicks off in February. Remember, Dan Duquette waited until last January to make some moves and many of them, such as trading for pitcher Jason Hammel worked out.
However, my fear – along with most fans – is that the Orioles are due for a regression in 2013. A few of their rivals in the American League East – such as the Boston Red Sox, and more notably the Toronto Blue Jays – have made tremendous moves; meanwhile, while the New York Yankees are still old, seem to want to hold onto their cash, and have problems offensively, their pitching rotation is still intact and strong.
The Tampa Bay Rays perhaps took a step back in trading James Shields and Wade Davis for Will Myers and some prospects this winter, the brain trust of that organization is top rate. Furthermore, they still have a talented pitching staff despite their offensive problems. In addition, although they will never win the checkbook championships, their signing of Evan Longoria to an extension was shrewd and manager Joe Maddon seems to always get the best out of his players.
At this point, the Orioles cannot stand pat. Although the Blue Jays are the sexy pick to contend and take the division in 2013, and the Yankees are always at the top of the heap, every team in the division has vulnerabilities. Baltimore needs to take advantage of the situation, plus keep in mind that they won back the fanbase last season with their inspired run.
They have to take a risk on a proven hitter like Adam LaRoche – who can bolster a good lineup with the Orioles – despite losing a draft pick along with an arm like Kyle Lohse.
Does is make a lot of sense to sign veterans on the wrong side of thirty for multiple years and lose draft picks that are sought after commodities? Not really.
However, the Orioles won 93 games last year and need to find a way to repeat what they did.
Can the bullpen – perhaps the saving grace of last year’s squad – keep the Orioles competitive in one-run games? Maybe.
Then again, what they accomplished was an remarkable feat, and the chances of that happening again are slim.
Can Miguel Gonzalez, Jason Hammel, Chris Tillman, Steve Johnson and Wei-Yin Chen do what did in 2012 again? Maybe, but neither of these guys have a track record.
Will the young arms in the system like Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton step it up? Will the team re-sign Joe Saunders – who was clutch in his two playoff starts? How will prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman do in their rise to the majors? Who knows?
It seems like Dan Duquette is hoping that his value signings, his core, and young arms along with the prospects in the system can propel the Orioles to another playoff appearance in 2013. I’m not sure so sure if his plan will work this time, but I – and many others – were wrong about this team last year.