I’m sure Dan Duquette needs a nap now after that flurry of activity over the last week or so of the hot stove season.
Last Friday, the Birds snatched away some guy named Mike something-or-other from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft. He’ll need to hang around all year – like Flaherty (’12) and McFarland (’13) did – on the 25-man roster or else be offered back to Boston. I’m sure Buck Showalter is just thrilled with only having a 24-man club to work with from April until September 1.
Yesterday, Duquette filled a hole he created two weeks ago when he brought Grant Balfour into the fold for two years to serve as the team’s closer.
Poor Dan. He probably needs a massage and a follow-up appointment to make sure he’s not overheated.
So, it’s nearly Christmas. The “new year” is just around the corner. January quickly turns into February around here, particularly when the days and weeks are filled with furious discussion about the Ravens and their next playoff game. Before you know it, the players start flowing into Sarasota for spring training.
In other words — the baseball season will be here soon.
Where are all the players who will help the Orioles win in 2014?
Balfour will help, we all assume. Yes, he’s 36. Yes, his numbers away from Oakland Coliseum spiked a bit, as expected. And, yes, he’ll be closing games against the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees instead of the Mariners and Astros. That said, Balfour is a much better option than Tommy Hunter would have been for the upcoming season.
So, we’ll check off on Balfour.
Ryan Flaherty and perhaps some guy you’ve never heard of named Jemile Weeks will likely compete for the starting second base job. If Jonathan Schoop can get healthy and stay that way, he might get his hands dirty at 2B as well. Make no mistake about it, though, this isn’t necessarily a position of strength for the Birds heading into 2014, despite the fact I personally believe Flaherty has the tools to be a “decent” everyday player.
Duquette publicly stated his off-season efforts would focus on a left-handed bat (a real one, presumably) and a left-fielder (again, I’m figuring he wanted a real one) to help produce more runs with players who understand the value of on-base percentage.
Nothing’s been done there yet. On either account.
Yes, yes, yes, I know, the off-season haul DID include the signing of Francisco Peguero, a cast-off for the Giants who scorched the National League with a .200 batting average in his 35 career games over there.
Oh, and Nolan Reimold is back.
There’s no left-handed bat yet.
Plenty were available, but all of them make too much money for the Orioles in this “limited market” they supposedly occupy.
Are you ready for the return of Luke Scott?
You better be.
So, the off-season rolls on in Baltimore the way it usually does. With promises, hopes and expectations — and nothing much to show for it once the presents have been unwrapped and the sunshine of Florida beckons in the not-so-distant-future.
Ticket prices increased, though. And, the Orioles got about $30 million more in TV money to spend on players this year. They’re not spending it, mind you, but they have it at their disposal. So, they have that going for them, which is nice.
Things could change over the next 4-6 weeks. Duquette could make a trade of some sort that fills one or two of the needs he stressed he was trying to fill earlier this month. A free-agent still hanging around without a team might wind up saying “yes” to the Orioles in the days before spring training begins.
Yes, things COULD change.
But, they won’t.
Some things never change with the Orioles.
They aren’t willing to do what it takes to be a championship organization.
A fact, they’ve been proving – again – over the last six weeks since free agency began and teams who are trying to win took steps to do just that.