What Do The Orioles Need To Do To Stay Competitive?
Each week, PressBox baseball writers weigh in on a different question. This week, Jim Henneman and Stan "The Fan" Charles share their thoughts on what the Orioles need to do to stay competitive during the second half of the season.
Jim Henneman's take is below, and click here to find out why Stan "The Fan" Charles thinks the Orioles should move Adam Jones to left field.
By Jim Henneman
Given that the Orioles' daily lineup regularly includes at least three players playing out of position and that 60 percent of the Opening Day rotation was in the minor leagues at the All-Star break, the question really isn't what can they do to be competitive during the second half -- but how in the world did they get to this point in the first place?
Yet, here we are wondering how Buck Showalter (his Manager of the Year award should already be on order) is going to hold this thing together, while playoff-starved fans debate the merits of being buyers rather than sellers at the rapidly approaching trade deadline. But, while considering the options, it would be best to observe the phrase "buyer beware."
As tempting as it might be for the Orioles to pull the trigger on a deal with postseason play in mind, it would be folly to do so without some guarantee of long-term (in this case two years) return on the investment. For all intents and purposes, barring a rash of devastating injuries, the New York Yankees have wrapped up the American League East division race. That leaves the potential for one of the two wild-card spots, which no longer have the allure of years past.
For the O's to mortgage even a small percentage of the future in exchange for a possible one-and-done postseason experience would be folly. With pitcher Jason Hammel due to miss five or six starts, the Orioles' best hope for remaining in contention is to revisit Plan A -- and have it work this time. They've already been through Plans B, C and D.
Basically, they need pitchers such as Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz and/or Jake Arrieta, all of whom figured prominently in future plans at some juncture, to start fulfilling the promise the organization had in its build-with-pitchers program, which started under former general manager Andy MacPhail and continues under current GM Dan Duquette. It really is the only hope, not only to continue this year's resurgence, but to prepare for next year, when some positional changes will take place as younger players make their presence felt.
To sacrifice a prospect such as Triple-A Norfolk's L.J. Hoes, for example, in exchange for a short-term pitching rental (something Duquette probably could pull off) would be a dangerous move, one that could have serious repercussions down the road.
At the risk of sounding like the grump that influenced the Grinch, the best policy for the Orioles going forward this year is to scratch and claw with what brought them to this year's dance. They may get dumped from the real race in the process, but in the reality race -- Duquette's preseason goal of reaching a .500 record -- they would be better served. An added bonus would be if a repeat of the first half was enough to maintain contention into the season's final month.
Posted July 17, 2012