The team has yet to make any big ticket free agent signings or impact player trades despite pressure to do so from its fan base and condemnation from the national sports press. So, taking all of that into consideration, how would you rate their off season so far?
Believe it or not I would give them a solid B+ and consider them one of the off season WINNERS. I base this in large part on the fact that we haven’t been foolish enough to obligate the team to long term contracts for overrated players on the downside of their careers, nor have we undervalued our pitching prospects and overpaid in a trade. IMO Dan Duquette and the Orioles’ brain trust have objectively evaluated the roster and recognize that adding one or two big (and expensive) pieces will not guarantee that all of the question marks on the roster will turn out to be positives.
The starting pitching should be solid, but it’s not like we’re bringing back the ‘71’ rotation. The same goes for the bullpen, but it will be easier to have confidence in that bunch if they had back to back seasons of solid performance instead of just one.
The defense, which was HORRIBLE through the first half of last season, should be average or better this year and could be above average to plus if Chris Davis brings his A game to 1B and there’s no reason for Wilson Betemit to play more than about 100 innings in the field.
Run production is certainly a big question, but good pitching will cover a lot of that and there really isn’t any one position that could be upgraded from outside the organization without grossly over paying or weakening another position in a trade. I have advocated signing Adam LaRoche but the FO wants to give Chris Davis the opportunity to show he’s the 1B of the future and IMO no one will work harder to prove them right.
Realistically, the Orioles’ run production will improve through maturity. In part that will be Adam Jones and Chris Davis accepting their limitations and playing within them, Manny Machado’s continuing development, and Markakis and Wieters ignoring the pressure they seem to put on themselves to carry the team and simply accept that they just need to play the game to the best of their abilities and nothing more. Without overdosing on orange Kool Aid I can see a valid case for each spot in the batting order improving from last year, and all of that without emptying the farm system or wrecking the payroll budget.
OK, let’s address the “free” agent issue. The Orioles didn’t sign any of the so called difference makers. THANK YOU, GOD! Here is my take on some of the players that fans on this (and other) sites have clamored for.
Zack Greinke SP Dodgers 6 $147.000MM the Dodgers just brought a pitcher that has had issues with pressure into what may be the biggest expectations in baseball in 2013. What could go wrong? If LA gets even three good years out of this deal they should feel lucky.
Anibal Sanchez SP Tigers 5 $80.000MM the Tigers are all in for 2013 so they over paid by about 3M a year and about two contract years.
Edwin Jackson SP Cubs 4 $52.000MM a "can't miss" prospect that has played for EIGHT ML teams by the time he's 28. No RED FLAGS there.
Josh Hamilton LF / CF Angels 5 $125.000MM let's see - substance abuse problems with recent relapses. A body that's starting to breakdown and some legitimate questions about his desire to perform at a plus level anymore. OF COURSE the Angels had good reason to not require a behavior or injury clause.
Mike Napoli 1B / C Red Sox 3 $39.000MM if this contract is finally completed as it was agreed to it you'll probably be able to time with a stop watch when it will become a bad contract.
Cody Ross OF Diamondbacks 3 $26.000MM he's been so inconsistent over his career that at least one of these contract years will be bad.
Nick Swisher 1B / RF Indians 4 $56.000MM a good player but Cleveland was so desperate to land one that they were probably bidding against themselves and went about two bad contract years too far.
As far as finding the ace SP we would all like, I just don’t see one of those in the bunch. You have a pressure adverse SP with an ERA of almost 4.00 (Greinke), a solid but career #3 (Sanchez), and a pitcher that EIGHT teams have given up on by the age of 28 (Jackson).
I also don’t see a difference making position player there also. Would Hamilton in LF or Swisher at DH have improved this team? Absolutely, and I would signed BOTH of them on one year deals. Maybe even two years for Hamilton, but anything beyond that is a big risk for either of them and 2013 is not the season to make that risk. Let’s hope that 2014 is different.
I would like to remind those of you that disagree with me how the 2011 offseason went. We didn’t sign any “free” agents from this bunch
Prince Fielder 1B Tigers 9 $214.000MM there's nothing wrong with this contract unless you have a problem with paying Fat Albert to waddle up to the plate as your DH for about the last three or four years of the deal.
Albert Pujols 1B Angels 10 $246.842MM the Angels decided to bring Albert to Los Angeles because they were concerned Hollywood wouldn't have enough broken down, overpaid has beens in about five years.
Jose Reyes SS Marlins 6 $106.000MM a history of injuries and a realistic lost of speed won't make the last few years of this contract bad, will it?
C.J. Wilson SP Angels 5 $77.500MM apparently, the Angels never heard of John Lackey or A J Burnett.
Mark Buehrle SP Marlins 4 $58.000MM this one will probably be like the Derek Lowe 4/60M Atlanta deal. One bad contract year too long.
nor did we make any big trades and IMO the season turned out OK. We needed starting pitching and Duquette found us some (Chen) in Japan at a reasonable price and traded for Hammel and a reliever, Lindstrom. We needed to build a bullpen and he recognized that most of the pieces were already there and then added O’Day and Ayala at a reasonable price. Can anyone honestly say they looked at those acquisitions and said “AHA! We’re going to have a ninety three win season on the way to the playoffs?” Me neither. In fact, I thought we made a mistake not trading Guthrie for ML ready prospects.
So, Dan Duquette decided to see what he had in Chris Davis instead of wrecking the future payroll with Fielder or Pujols. THANK YOU, VERY MUCH. Davis has the potential to be an above average fielder at 1B and an impact bat, and his contract is affordable. Reyes might have made a nice addition for two or three years, but not signing him allowed Machado to be promoted and I expect Machado will be the better player by 2014. Wilson is a #2 and Buerhle is a #3 SP, and can you honestly say you would choose them TODAY over Chen and Miguel Gonzalez? IMO the pitchers Duquette chose to go with are on the upside of their career curve and Wilson and Buerhle are on the downside. Beyond all of that, do you really believe the Baltimore Orioles would have had a better result for the 2012 season if we would have had Wilson and Buerhle in our rotation instead of Chen and Gonzalez?
Most of us would have given the Orioles a failing grade for the last offseason and we would have been wrong. How is that any different than this offseason?