With pitchers and catchers set to report on February 13, the Baltimore Orioles will begin their 2014 campaign for a World Series title without any significant additions to bolster the starting rotation.
General Manager Dan Duquette and the rest of his comrades in the front office missed out on the Bronson Arroyo bidding war as the 36-year-old opted for a two-year deal worth at least $23.5 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks, per FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. He also has an $11 million option with a $4.5 million buyout for 2016.
While some fans and those who follow the Birds may be up in arms that Baltimore missed out on the right-hander, an addition of the former Cincinnati Reds pitcher wouldn’t have changed too much in a rotation that still lacks a true ace.
Arroyo was never going to come into Baltimore and be inserted as the top guy. RHP Chris Tillman still occupies that role and even that is a bit of a stretch for a guy who allowed 33 home runs in what was his first year as a full-time starting pitcher in the organization. But Tillman still went 16-7 and ate up 206 1/3 innings in 2013 with a 3.71 ERA. Arroyo went 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA over 202 innings as he allowed 32 home runs.
And that’s the issue… the home run total.
As good as both of these pitchers are, the big fly can burn them and burn them bad. Just two years ago, Arroyo allowed a league-high 46 home runs as a member of the Reds. He hasn’t allowed less than 26 since 2005. In a ballpark like Camden Yards, where home runs fly as often as seagulls do at beaches, a traditional fly ball pitcher isn’t well-suited for that environment.
Hence why there is still doubt with Tillman at the top and Wei-Yin Chen riding his coattails.
Guys who tend to be plagued by the long ball, but also have the ability to eat innings are a risky proposition at best. The Orioles’ rotation hasn’t upgraded from last year and bringing in an aging pitcher like Arroyo wasn’t going to change much.
Two things would have been beneficial if he had agreed to terms with Baltimore:
1. He eats innings and with the lack of quality starts in the rotation last season, in addition to the high volume of innings logged by the bullpen due to starters’ inability to get past the fifth and sixth innings, this would have provided less wear and tear for the likes of RHP Darren O’Day, RHP Tommy Hunter and LHP Brian Matusz.
2. Arroyo has never been on the disabled list in his major league career. He is entering his 15th season as a professional.
Duquette has said he intends to get the payroll over $100 million before the start of the regular season. He still has some work to do if he wants to reach that goal.
Missing out on Arroyo isn’t that crippling to the organization as he fits the mold of what several of the other starters in the rotation provide other than his vast major league experience.