Any contending team should be looking to improve. No team is perfect and (though some would be remise to admit) that includes the Orioles. Whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, or calls into my show, I constantly hear about how the Orioles need a second baseman or a designated hitter. Of course you would like the upgrade at both of these positions but the people who suggest that upgrades at those spots are necessary, are completely missing the point.
The problems that need to be addressed by the Orioles are not in the batting lineup. Their real problems lie in the starting rotation. The Orioles are top five in runs (2nd), hits (2nd), doubles (2nd), homeruns (1st), total bases (1st), RBI’s (3rd), batting average (3rd), and slugging percentage (1st). Get the picture? The last thing the Orioles need to trade for is a bat especially with the sudden surge of competence from Ryan Flaherty at the plate and new solution at DH in Brian Roberts.
On the other hand, starting pitching has been downright bad. There has been a resurgence of late, but largely their pitching has been terrible. Only 44% of starts from the Orioles pitchers have been quality starts. That’s good for 26th worst in the league. Orioles starting pitchers also give up the second most earned runs per game in the league while pitching the 23rd fewest innings in the league. This is clearly a problem and the Orioles should be in the market for a legitimate starter now and up to the trade deadline. I could go on and on with stats about how bad starting pitching has been but you can see those stats here for yourself.
Here are a few starting pitcher targets the Orioles should be exploring (based on pure speculation and no inside knowledge):
Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves – The Braves have Brandon Beachy coming back from the disabled list which would make Maholm, who is in the last year of his deal, expendable. With Maholm and Tim Hudson both in the last years of their respective contracts, the Braves would like to unload one to get something in return but I’m almost positive it won’t be Hudson. Maholm is an innings eater not unlike Joe Saunders was last year and Lord knows that’s what the Orioles need right now.
Ricky Nolasco, Miami Marlins – Seems to be an obvious target here. Many teams will be looking at Nolasco, who is having his best year since 2008. The Marlins have been looking to unload all of their big contracts since their disappointing season a year ago. Nolasco is making $11,500,000 this year so it may be a little over what the Orioles would be willing to take on but he would make a welcome addition to unstable rotation. With many suitors looking at him, the Orioles might not have the right number or quality of prospects to make the best offer to the Marlins
Edinson Volquez, San Diego Padres – “Volquez to the Orioles” rumors have been swirling around a bit of late so this isn’t my idea by any stretch. Volquez leads the National League in walks but would still make a decent 4th or 5th starter in this Orioles rotation. The Orioles should be careful not to give up too much for Volquez because, quite frankly, he isn’t worth that much. Jake Arrieta and another lower level prospect would be all I would be willing to give up for Volquez.
Phil Hughes, New York Yankees – Let’s hope the Yankees continue to fade away in the A.L. East so they will be willing to deal some of their players. I’ve long said I would love to see Hughes on the Orioles. I don’t think it would take much to get him either. While you never know what you might get with Hughes, he has shown that he can be very good at times. He would make a great addition to the O’s and could provide a solution as a solid 3rd starter in the rotation.
Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox – The White Sox are downright woeful without a chance of contending this year or in the coming years with the way their lineup looks. They’ll probably be looking for some future help in that department. While the Orioles are a bit thin on pitching prospects, they have a number of hitters down on the farm that they could package in a deal for Peavy. They could also try to get the White Sox to throw in reliever Jesse Crain who would really help out the bullpen as well.
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