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.
Stan "The Fan" Charles' take is below, and click here to find out what Jim Henneman had to say.
By Stan "The Fan" Charles
The most important thing for Orioles fans to remember is that 2012 is general manager Dan Duquette's first year in charge of an MLB team since 2002. While he is getting his groove back, and you have to like several of his moves, three names come to mind as misses on his part -- pitchers Roy Oswalt (Texas Rangers) and Ben Sheets (Atlanta Braves), as well as outfielder Bobby Abreu (Los Angeles Dodgers).
Had he aggressively pursued these three guys, instead of dallying with Jamie Moyer, Miguel Tejada, J.C. Romero and Joel Piniero, the prospects for an interesting second half could have been much brighter.
The guess is that these sorts of names will be in Duquette's crosshairs as he attempts to make the Orioles a more competitive team in 2013. Although I have enjoyed and been engaged by this edition of the Orioles, a starting rotation of Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Jake Arrieta is not the stuff contenders are made of; and to think you can fix it by waving a wand or giving up too much of your future for a two-month rental does not come across as smart. Take this down: Duquette, if nothing else, is smart.
So, let's start with that novel idea -- the starting pitching has to be upgraded for next season. How do you do that? First, by using the remainder of 2012 to decipher once and for all whether Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Matusz, Arrieta, Hunter, Miguel Gonzalez, Steve Johnson, Miguel Socolovitch, et al are going to be part of the solution or part of the problem.
I've been a close observer of the Orioles for a long time, and take pride in reading the tea leaves on where the combination of talent, head and heart will take players. I'd like to see the Orioles aggressively go after a package that includes the switch-hitting third baseman in San Diego, Chase Headley, along with left-handed pitcher Clayton Richards with Matusz as the bait to catch these two pieces.
I may be wrong about Matusz, but the deal I propose makes sense for both sides. The Orioles should aggressively go after the Padres' assets, before the sale of the Padres to the O'Malley family and Phil Mickelson goes through.
The O's should also go after someone like Kevin Millwood, who pitched in Baltimore two seasons ago. He is long past his prime, but the one thing he could do next season is still eat up some innings. It's still not clear why the Orioles were in such a rush to ship out a solid soldier like Millwood just to rush a cadre of pitchers who, two seasons down the road, still haven't proven a thing.
Although it's been a great ride for closer Jim Johnson, it seems as if the club is back (or should be) debating the merits of Johnson joining the starting rotation next year. With the surplus of good arms they have, it seems that they may have a couple of good in-house candidates to replace Johnson. See Pedro Strop and Hunter.
Currently, the Los Angeles Angels are in desperate need of bullpen arms to shore up their position as wild-card favorite. Perhaps a package of Matt Lindstrom and Pat Neshek, or Lindstrom and Luis Ayala could allow Duquette to acquire Peter Bourjos, the super defensive center fielder. Where would I play him, you ask? The easy answer is to move Adam Jones to left field, and turn your entire outfield into a great defensive outfield.
In summation, the remainder of 2012 shouldn't be about staying competitive for this season. Duquette, owner Peter Angelos and manager Buck Showalter shouldn't allow fans' displeasure during the past decade drive them into a frenzy of mistakes. Rather, they should spend the remainder of this season contemplating how to build on the 3.5 months of success this season.
Below is my world view about how Duquette and the O's can build a much better mouse trap for next season, while still bridging the gap until Dylan Bundy, Manny Machado and the next generation are ready.
Starting Pitching Competition
Johnson, Hammel, Chen, Richards, Millwood, Britton, Arrieta (seven)
Relief Pitching Competition (not included: 1-2 free agent additions)
Darren O'Day, Gonzalez, Socolovitch, Stuart Pomeranz, Troy Patton, Hunter, Arthur Rhodes, Strop (eight)
Matusz (trade), Kevin Gregg, Lindstrom (trade), Ayala (trade)
Jones, Bourjous, Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold, Xavier Avery and Lew Ford (six)
Chase Headley, J.J. Hardy, Robert Andino, Ryan Flaherty, Chris Davis (five)
Matt Wieters, Taylor Teagarden (two)
Brian Roberts, Mark Reynolds, Endy Chavez, Steve Tolleson
Posted July 18, 2012