Some had hoped that statement was blown a bit out of proportion and that the team would be willing to take a chance on a high priced addition or two this offseason after winning the Wild Card and falling just a game short of the ALCS.
I think the Alexi Casilla acquisition is a reminder to stop holding your breath.
The O’s don’t have a lot of holes. Jones, RF Nick Markakis, 3B Manny Machado, C Matt Wieters and Chris Davis (who could end up at DH, 1B or even LF next season) are all quality players back in the fold for 2013. My gut still tells me the team will offer arbitration to 1B Mark Reynolds if they cannot reach a contract agreement in the coming weeks. That leaves LF (where many fans would be willing to see the return of Nate McLouth in 2013) and 2B as the only obvious spots on the field/in the lineup where the Birds can upgrade before the start of the 2013 season.
What’s so crushing about the decision to not sign a notable second baseman is the idea that this was the easiest way to upgrade a position without having to break the bank in the process. I don’t need to see the entire offseason play out to know that Keppinger and Johnson won’t be receiving the type of big money contracts high profile free agents like Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke will.
If the Birds aren’t willing to spend the lesser money it will take to get one of those types of players, what reason is there to think they’ll spend the greater money it will take to upgrade at another spot (or bring in another frontline pitcher)?
This all brings us back to lightning.
Let’s put the Orioles’ offseason into motion. They bring back McLouth and tender an offer to Reynolds. Their Opening Day lineup looks something like McLouth/Hardy/Markakis/Jones/Davis/Wieters/Machado/Reynolds/Casilla with a rotation that includes some combination of Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz and perhaps even Dylan Bundy.
It sounds awfully similar to the group that returned baseball pandemonium to Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 2012, doesn’t it?
But as much as fans disapproved of hearing analysts and national writers describe the 2012 team as “lucky”, we have to be willing to admit it was an amazing set of circumstances that allowed the franchise to make their first postseason run since 1997. Wins are more important than run differential, yes. But run differential and close wins are an indicator that perhaps the totality of the parts is not as strong long-term as we would like to believe.
It was a remarkably improbable season for the Baltimore Orioles in 2012. It was about as likely as being struck by lightning.
It looks more and more like Duquette and the Birds are simply going to hope that lightning can strike again in 2013.
It isn’t impossible…as we learned in the video that started this column.
It would be REALLY nice though to take a couple more chances to improve the odds. As the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees appear to remain willing to defer to the importance of the $189 million luxury tax threshold for 2014, it seems they won’t be spending mega bucks this year to become vastly better next year. The AL East looks as though it will remain fairly open next season.
Some teams would use this as an opportunity to stack the deck in their favor. The Orioles appear more willing to channel Metallica and “Ride the Lightning.”
Maybe it’s time to build this type of structure out in center field.