With O’s in freefall, focus turns to future: Who is a nugget, and who isn’t?

July 07, 2011 | Peter Dilutis

So after all is said and done, in my opinion the Orioles have four position players who are legitimate long-term pieces moving forward. Markakis, Jones, Reynolds, and Wieters can all be key core players on a contending team.

If Hardy is re-signed, he would become the fifth. Anytime Roberts is healthy and in the lineup, he is another one. I think Hardy and Roberts are really the two biggest variables facing the Orioles over the next few months. If Hardy comes back, the O’s instantly lock up one of the best shortstops in baseball for the next several years. If Roberts comes back and has a second half of 2011 like he did in 2010, the need to go out and find a new starting 2B obviously goes away.

I tend to be an optimistic guy regarding the O’s, so let’s look at the glass half-full. Assuming that those two very important variables turn out in the Orioles’ favor, the Orioles would have six out of nine position players (including the DH) filled with long-term nuggets.

That actually would present a pretty good situation for the Birds moving forward. The glaring hole is at 1B, and there just happen to be two elite first basement available this offseason. Equally as important, neither the Yankees or Red Sox have a hole at 1B, so it is highly unlikely those two will be bidding on Pujols and Fielder.

While Pujols seems to be a bit of a reach for the O’s, Fielder really does make a ton of sense. Obviously there is no evidence that Andy MacPhail would pay what it would take to get an elite player to Baltimore, but the need is there, and the team has money to spend.