Earlier this Month, I posted an article illustrating my Orioles related thoughts as the off-season was beginning for the Birds.
(You can discuss this article on the BSL Board here.)
I was not exactly being profound in my stated hopes that the O’s would add a front-end starter, while also improving the team’s on-base % this Winter. It was also stated that I hoped to see the Orioles make runs at both Jose Abreu, and Masahiro Tanaka, but did not have the expectation of Baltimore obtaining either one.
Even though I did not expect to see either Abreu, or Tanaka in an Orioles uniform next year, it was still a bit disheartening to see Abreu finalize a contract with the Chicago White Sox Thursday night. While the contract I had projected for Abreu (5 yrs $55M) proved to be incorrect (he signed for 6 yrs $68M), the rationale of signing him remained. It was an opportunity to sign a bat with difference making potential, at a position (DH) of need. With the added bonuses of not having to utilize the International budget, or deal with compensatory losses.
Maybe the wording above is poor. We knew it was unlikely for Abreu to sign with the O’s, so him not signing with the Orioles is not what I consider disheartening. What bothers me is that the O’s were not apparently involved at all.
Being that it is just October 19th, and we have months before hearing that Pitchers and Catchers are reporting to Spring Training; I won’t fixate on that disappointment. There is a long Winter which awaits, and there are multiple ways to build a team. With Abreu off-the-table though, that does bring me to comments Duquette has made since the season has ended.
Speaking on WBAL Radio earlier this week, Duquette spoke about improving both the quality and depth of the rotation; and addressing the on-base % woes of the lineup. It was not profound when I mentioned those goals, and it is not profound when Duquette mentions the same. Everyone who watched the O’s with interest this past year, has said the same thing. Still, it is good hearing Duquette acknowledge that the Front Office also believes that these issues need to be addressed. The devil will be in the details. What is the plan, and will Duquette be able to carry that plan to fruition?
Duquette’s comments to WBAL were just a reiteration of comments he made to The Baltimore Sun October 5th. What is a little bit interesting is that in comments to The Sun, Duquette acknowledges that obtaining external Starting Pitching – be it via trade, or Free Agency – is expensive. That acknowledgement would seem to be another reason to pursue Tanaka, but of course the O’s could theoretically make a strong posting effort, and still not obtain the Japanese starter. If you assume the O’s won’t be involved with Tanaka – and that should be the assumption until proven otherwise – again we get back to the idea of wondering how Duquette is going to improve this team?
If the Orioles up their 2014 Payroll to $115M, they will have the ability to go and add to the existing core. They could open up the check-book and make runs at Shin Soo-Choo, or Jacoby Ellsbury for LF. Either one is going to take a $100M dollar investment.
For some reason, McLouth back on a 2 yr $10M deal seems more plausible to me.
I also anticipate that the O’s will resign Roberts, along with either Hammel or Feldman. If they can get Feldman for 2 yrs, I think that would be their preference. I think they would prefer Hammel for 1 year, vs. Feldman for 3 yrs though.
At DH, bringing back Betemit to platoon with Valencia has some appeal.
Individually, none of those moves would be poor. Collectively, none of them (not including Soo-Choo, or Ellsbury here) move the dial. The O’s were a good team in ’13, but they had flaws. They have a core of players that can compete again in ’14, but they are going to need help. The Front Office has acknowledged this. One option for help is now gone.
What is going to be the plan?
If the payroll is not going to increase, the plan that might be forced upon the Front Office is creativity. The idea of using existing assets to obtain pieces elsewhere. That would force greater roster turnover, (and you can argue if that is good or bad); but that might be the the lone option available for Duquette to complete his goals this Winter.