Dance With The One That Brought You

July 31, 2014 | Ethan Stewart

Money Ball Part 2: The Revenge of Billy will be a heck of a movie, I can guarantee that.  Now let’s just hope Brad Pitt is back to resume his roll as Billy Beane.

Rumors were spreading like wildfire yesterday that the Red Sox and the Orioles were close to an agreement that would send All-Star pitcher Jon Lester to the Orioles.  Beat reporters from both Boston and Baltimore (Pete Abraham and Britt Ghiroli) tweeted out that a deal that would send Lester to Baltimore was close, but not a done deal.

Well a done deal never came to fruition and the following morning he was sent to Oakland along with outfielder Jonny Gomes in exchange for All-Star outfielder and home run derby champion Yoenis Cespedes.

That acquisition makes the Oakland Athletics starting rotation scarily good.  Like if there was a Murderer’s Row of pitchers in a postseason series it would be Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija, Sonny Gray, and Scott Kazmir.  In a 7 game series that would scare any team, including the Baltimore Orioles.

The Orioles ended up acquiring left-handed relief pitcher Andrew Miller from the Red Sox rather than adding a starting pitcher like Jon Lester or even Bartolo Colon who was rumored to be coveted by the Orioles’ Front Office.

And I’m perfectly okay with that.

The Orioles didn’t “need” to add another starting pitcher.  Especially a middle/back of the rotation type starter.  We have plenty of those.  Adding one would be an unnecessary luxury at best and a team chemistry killer at worst.  Adding Lester would have been nice, but it’s clearly evident that the price was a bit too steep for the lack of depth in the Orioles farm system.

At this moment the Orioles have a fairly solid starting rotation consisting of Chris Tillman, Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen and Kevin Gausman.  Ubaldo Jimenez is slated to come off the disabled list in the relatively near future and could be relegated to a long-relief type role as he has struggled at times this season.  However, he would always be available to transition into a role in the starting rotation in the case of an injury or ineffectiveness out of a member of the current starting rotation.

Bud Norris has surprised many pundits as he has been the most consistent starting pitcher on the staff this season.  There was doubt as to whether he was going to earn a rotation spot during spring training, but he has surely silenced the naysayers by stringing together many quality starts and serving as very reliable arm that instills a sense of confidence in his team.

Despite struggling to go deep into games earlier this season, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez have both improved as the season has gone on and Chen is actually leading the team in wins with 11.

Chris Tillman has experienced a bit of regression following his All-Star season in 2013, but he’s usually a good bet to go 6 or 7 innings and he has also improved as the season has progressed.

The more I watch Kevin Gausman the more I’m convinced that he is an ace in the making.

Is he of that caliber currently?  No.  But he’s been pretty good and I can only see him getting better and better.  Also I think that in a playoff series, if given the choice, I would feel comfortable starting Gausman in Game 2.  That’s how confident I am in his abilities at this moment.

Ubaldo Jimenez has been incredibly disappointing to almost every Orioles fan this year.  A front of the rotation starter was what most of us expected, however, his performance this season has been comparable to a back-end/spot starter.

If he can manage to somewhat replicate how he performed last year during the 2nd half with the Cleveland Indians, that would basically serve as a trade for a high-level starting pitcher since we didn’t have that out of him in the 1st half of this season.  I believe in the potential of Jimenez.  I wouldn’t bet the house that he’s able to return to that form but I think and hope that he will be a serviceable starter for the Orioles.

The Orioles are in 1st place in AL East and are 14 games above .500 with the guys they have on the roster right NOW.  Sure the A’s got Lester and the Tigers got Price.  Big whoop.  When playoff time comes around it’s all about the game you have in front of you and this Orioles team without a doubt in my mind have won and know how to win big games.

The organization as well as it’s fans should still feel very confident that when October comes around there will be extremely important baseball to be played in Baltimore.