Realistically, the Orioles must get more from Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta to give themselves any real shot in September. Left-hander Zach Britton can certainly provide a boost if he continues to improve at Triple A, but expecting a 49-year-old Jamie Moyer or Tillman to offer anything better than what Tommy Hunter, Matusz, or Arrieta have provided over the first three months of the season isn’t realistic.
Internal options aren’t there for left field, so a trade will almost be a necessity. Upgrading won’t be difficult — the current standard is quite low — but finding one of real quality will be.
Acquiring a pitcher such as Ryan Dempster or Brandon McCarthy (both become free agents after the season) or taking on a sizable portion of a hefty contract such as that of left fielder Alfonso Soriano might be attainable, but Duquette and the Orioles should remember two important ideas when pondering any potential trades.
One, 2012 should not be considered an “all-in” year for the Orioles, no matter how tempting the playoffs sound for an organization and fan base starving to win. No move should be made that potentially hurts the next few seasons. The goal is to win championships and sustain success, so mortgaging the future for what still looks like an unlikely dream of a wild card would be unwise.
Second, any trade should try to not only help the Orioles over the final two months of the season but beyond that. If they must add a rental such as Dempster, the package they’re offering should be modest. Ideally, Duquette should look to add players who are either signed for the next season or two or can be realistically retained with a new contract.
With those notions in mind, even the best efforts could result in an underwhelming return at the deadline for the Orioles. The volume of goods to offer just isn’t there and the risk would be too great to offer their prized prospects in trades.
As fun as the first three months of the season have been and as hungry as fans are for a winner, it’s important to remember how unexpected it’s all been. Perspective is necessary while basking in the pleasant dream of the first 70 games of the season.
Progress is apparent in several areas, but there is still plenty of work to do. Potentially stunting that growth by damaging the farm system further for something far from guaranteed could be even more discouraging than the last 14 seasons.
The Orioles are getting closer.
Closer than they’ve been in a very long time.
The commitment from the front office and ownership needs to be there in terms of player development and a willingness to spend money when opportunities arise to improve the club through free agency. Those ideas remain in question less than a year into Duquette’s tenure.
Any deadline trade that improves the team while not compromising the future should be strongly encouraged.
But the club can’t afford to stub its toe, even if it means they fall short this season because asking prices are simply too high.
Anyone invested in the Orioles has waited so long already, but waiting a little longer might be necessary.
It isn’t easy, but this kind of waiting sure beats the last decade’s worth of summers.