The Baltimore Orioles were riding high entering the offseason. Baltimore had finally ended its string of consecutive losing seasons that dated back to 1998 and made a playoff appearance in the process. The long dormant fan base was re-energized by the team’s sudden turnaround and abundance of promising young players.
That enthusiasm seems to have taken a hit over the past few weeks as the Orioles have been relatively quiet to begin the off-season. The Orioles have made some minor moves like trading 2B Robert Andino to Seattle and claiming Alexi Casilla off waivers from the Twins but there’s been nothing in the way of headline grabbing acquisitions. The re-signing of OF Nate McLouth to a one-year contract was a solid step in the right direction but the Orioles have seemingly failed to capitalize on the success of 2012.
The Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Tampa Rays have all been very active to begin the hot stove season. Baltimore fans are feeling left out and hoping their beloved O’s won’t be left in the dust in 2013. I think it’s important for fans to remember that the Orioles’ turnaround in 2012 was largely driven by an improved starting rotation. The additions of Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen, along with the emergence of Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez, propelled the Orioles to the playoffs. All four of those pitchers will be back in 2013.
Sure, the O’s lost Mark Reynolds to free agency, but Reynolds was no All Star. He was dismal for four months in 2012 before catching fire late. The fact that Reynolds had to settle for a one -year deal with the rebuilding Cleveland Indians speaks volumes about how he is regarded by the rest of Major League baseball. The Orioles need another right-handed power hitter to replace Reynolds 22 home runs. A healthy Nolan Reimold would solve all that currently ails the O’s but the oft-injured left fielder can’t be penciled into the everyday lineup. The Orioles will likely acquire a right-handed hitting first baseman (Michael Morse?) or outfielder (Cody Ross or Scott Hairston) prior to the start of Spring Training.
Don’t fret Orioles fans. I want Josh Hamilton in orange and black as much as the next guy but it really all comes down to pitching. The next big contract signed by the Orioles is likely to be a long-term extension for catcher Matt Wieters. The Orioles already have the makings of a terrific starting rotation in place for 2013 with phenom Dylan Bundy and 2012 first round pick Kevin Gausman on the horizon. The Orioles will also benefit from a full season of Manny Machado at third base and the potential arrival of highly-regarded second base prospect Jonathan Schoop. The Orioles remain a promising young team on the rise. Fans complaining about the lack of off-season movement should remember that it’s only mid-December.
*Information gathered from http://www.fangraphs.com
Dan Soderberg is a Baltimore native and lifelong Orioles fan. You can read some of Dan’s other work at http://dadstimeout.tumblr.com/ Follow Dan on Twitter.