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Monday 27th Mar 2017

To be sure, they play in the toughest division in baseball. And, they have more than a proud tradition, with a roster that includes names like Cal Ripken, Frank and Brooks Robinson, and Jim Palmer.

And, laying back and getting trounced each year, waiting for the deluge is simply not a Baltimore Orioles kind of thing.

Well, during this year's winter meetings, the Orioles rebuilt the left side of their infield, adding a new third baseman in Mark Reynolds, and a shortstop in J.J. Hardy.

Reynolds would be their best third baseman since Cal Ripken, Jr., and Hardy would be their best shortstop since...Cal Ripken, Jr.

But, with Brian Roberts back and close to form at second, this at least gives Baltimore an interesting infield. The question mark is Jake Fox, who right now is the default incumbent at first base.

Search the outfield, too, and the Orioles have two really nice players in Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, and I expect behind the dish that this will be the year Matt Wieters establishes himself as a serious major league backstop.

Toss in some arms with promise, especially Brian Matusz and Jeremy Guthrie, both of whom excelled over the second half last season, and really, the Orioles have come a long way in improving their lineup.

With Felix Pie in left, that spot and first base with the season-long untested Fox seem to be the position player question marks, and on the hill Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, and Jake Arrieta are posers, but all five of these players have had moments of triumph as major leaguers.

So, the question is, in the aggregate, will those moves be what the Orioles need to jump back into the fray of the AL East?

I fear the answer is no.

True, in Wieters, Jones, Markakis, and Matusz, the O's have a core of fine young players, one at a key catcher spot.

But Hardy is at best erratic, and as for Mark Reynolds, the official press release I got from the Orioles announcing the swap never mentioned his 2010 batting average (.198) though his 32 homers were mentioned more than once to balance things out.

I really don't think the division really even matters that much, but, I do think the O's could take lessons from the Pirates and Royals, both of whom have had teams peppered with good up-and-comers, and both of whom fell short, signing leftover veterans--which, for better or worse, I feel Reynolds and Hardy are--who then disappointed.

On the flip, Baltimore could also display a little more patience, like the Rays did as they began to harvest their now regular crop of fine young players, building almost exclusively from within.

I do at least like to see Baltimore trying to make the moves to be competitive. It is just it pains me to watch because it seems so obvious that centering a team around Mark Reynolds is simply not a wise move to make. Signing Adam Dunn, for example, and letting Josh Bell keep third, for example, using Fox as an uber-utility guy just makes so much more sense to me.

But, what do I know?

Comments   

0 #4 Rob Leibowitz 2010-12-12 04:35
It occurs to me one thing we are missing is that the Orioles did try to do more to improve their team - they were into Victor Martinez, but weren't going to commit the years Detroit ultimately did. There was another name or two they were into as well, but I'm forgetting. Anyway, they were unable to land them.
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0 #3 Rob Leibowitz 2010-12-12 03:21
agreed. i think the point is to show the fans that they at least want to put a competitive product on the field, perhaps play spoiler late in the season. The Orioles attendance last year was awful and they need to reinvigorate the base (too much listening to politics here)They also swing Hardy or Reynolds for perhaps a better prospect when/if they fall for from contention in mid-season.
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0 #2 Lawr Michaels 2010-12-11 19:02
whoa. fungible. nice!

good point that they gave up very little.

but, if it matters not, what is the point?

i do think we are in agreement that building through the minors and draft is the way to go.
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0 #1 Rob Leibowitz 2010-12-11 02:51
Hi Lawr,

Here's my perspective on it. Will the Orioles compete and beat the Sox, Yankees, and Rays - heck no, but did they give up anything of consequence to put a better product on the field?

4 relievers? One a 24-year old with no experience above A+ ball. One,28-year old who hasn't been the same since a shoulder injury, one a 26-year old with mechanical and command issues who has yet to make the transition to the majors, and only 1 with mlb success and not that great a sample size - a 25-year old was forced to move to the bullpen from the rotation and still has question marks with his control long-term.

So, from my perspective, the Orioles traded a bunch of fungible, replaceable parts, and made some upgrades to their roster. Yes,they have question marks to be sure, but Josh Bell and Cesar Izturis are not MLB level starters.

Unfortunately, what the Orioles really need to is actually develop some hitters for a change. This is a major issue with the organization that is really holding them back from competing the ALE. It's a shame, b/c all that nice young pitching they have may not be around by the time they do have some young hitters.
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