With about five to six weeks before pitchers and catchers report to the various camps of the 30 MLB franchises in both Florida and Arizona, most teams are into the homestretch of the wheeling and dealing that takes place during the winter.
The Baltimore Orioles, as we all know, had an impressive 2012 season that culminated in their first playoff berth in over 15 years.
Baltimore’s fanbase was re-energized thanks to their magical run, but it seems like right now, the franchise has done seemingly done little to capitalize on it.
Most fans and experts believe that the Orioles need another bat, or another starting pitcher with some winning experience to keep them competitive. They are still waiting.
At a glance, the Orioles have not done much with retooling their roster for the upcoming season. Now, we are still in early January, and there's more to be done by Dan Duquette along with the front office; however, the consensus among most fans is that the franchise does not want to spend money and has fallen back into their old ways.
The local media that cover the team have said from day one of the off-season that the Orioles would not have any high-dollar signings.
They were right.
One would have thought that the organization would have found another bat, plus perhaps another arm to bolster a team that has a strong core with players like Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, Manny Machado and Nick Markakis.
Aside from re-signing Nate McLouth and finding guys such as pitchers Daniel Schlereth and Zach Braddock along with first-baseman Travis Ishikawa, the Orioles have not done much.
Now, the Orioles will dole out a bunch of money to players due to raises, arbitration and contract stipulations; however, it looks like the roster from 2012 could be the one that fans see in 2013.
I've been a blogger for a long time covering this team, but I have had season tickets of some form since 2003. For the first time in a decade, I’m truly anticipating the start of 2013 season; however, as a paying customer I truly expected much more improvement at this point.
However, my fear – along with most fans – is that the Orioles are due for a regression in 2013. They won 93 games last year, but that may not happen again.
Their rivals in the American League East – such as the Boston Red Sox, and more notably the Toronto Blue Jays – have made tremendous moves and upgraded their roster; meanwhile, while the New York Yankees are very still formidable despite the average age of their starting lineup and pitching.
The Tampa Bay Rays perhaps took a step back in trading James Shields and Wade Davis for Will Myers and some prospects this winter, the brain trust of that the organization is top rate. Furthermore, they still have a talented pitching staff despite their offensive problems.
In addition, although they will never win the checkbook championships, their signing of Evan Longoria to an extension was shrewd and manager Joe Maddon seems to always get the best out of his players.
Although the Blue Jays are the sexy pick to contend and take the division in 2013, and the Yankees are always at the top of the heap, every team in the division has vulnerabilities.
The American League East is ripe for the taking, but fans are still waiting for the Orioles to make a move.
Despite my concern, there’s still a lot of time left in the off-season. Remember, Dan Duquette waited until last January to make some moves. Some of them, such as trading for pitcher Jason Hammel and signing Nate McLouth worked out.
Can the bullpen – perhaps the saving grace of last year’s squad – keep the Orioles competitive in one-run games? Who knows?
Then again, what the Orioles accomplished in 2012 was a remarkable feat, and the chances of that happening again are slim.
Can Miguel Gonzalez, Jason Hammel, Chris Tillman, Steve Johnson and Wei-Yin Chen do what did in 2012 again? Maybe, but neither of these guys have a track record.
Will the young arms in the system like Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton step it up? Will the team re-sign Joe Saunders – who was clutch in his two playoff starts?
How will prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman do in their rise to the majors? Who knows?
It seems like Dan Duquette is hoping that value signings, core players, young arms along with the improvement with prospects can propel the Orioles to another playoff appearance in 2013.
I’m not sure so sure if his plan will work this time, but I – and many others – were wrong about this team last year.
I'd like to see the team act in a more bold fashion with the time remaining until Spring Training; however, they cannot be reckless and give away draft picks in order to get free agents.
As I've said before, I have full confidence in Duquette and the front office to put the best Oriole team possible on the field.
That being said, how do you all feel about the off-season so far?
Do you think Baltimore has done enough — or does more need to happen?