So far the Orioles have added Matt Antonelli and Taylor Teagarden. Antonelli and Tegarden will come in as perspective bench players in the infield and catcher respectively. The Orioles are also in the process of luring KBO relief pitcher Chong Tae-Hyon away from Korea and to Baltimore, these moves while solid are in fact very minor.
Many Orioles fans are waiting for the earth-shaking rumble caused by Prince Fielder crashing through the gates of Camden Yards – but that will not happen. New GM Dan Duquette has basically stated in as clear terms as possible that the Orioles will not be inquiring about Prince Fielder.
With the Winter Meetings less than a week away I look for the Orioles to make some moves to secure the starting rotation, add some more depth to the upper minors and the bench and probably address left field.
I know these moves aren’t exactly drool-worthy but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good moves, or at least potentially good moves. The Orioles are a dreadfully thin organization and they need to make moves like these. The Orioles are not a Prince Fielder nor a CJ Wilson away from competition. Even if the Orioles were to add one of those players any success next season will once again rest on the shoulders of the young players. Brian Matusz, Zach Britton and Matt Wieters in particular.
I swear I am getting sick of typing that. I feel like I have been typing a sentence similar to that for the last five years. The Orioles struggles to develop their young stars have been well-documented and dissected a million times over. Hopefully, Dan Duquette has recognized this problem and I think he has. Duquette has spent a lot of time this past November adding key members to his front office and it appears that he is not done. Duquette apparently wants to bring in former Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson (a man who is reportedly in-line for the Boston Red Sox pitching coach job) to be the “Minor League Pitching Coordinator”. This is, of course, a new position and one that is sorely needed.
Something is going on with Orioles pitchers. in his Top 50 Under 25 blog, blogger, stat-guy and twitter prophet Keith Law ranked Zach Britton at 31 (notably ahead of players like Jeremy Helickson and Ivan Nova) but warned of him coming down with “Oriolepitcheritis”. I assume that Oriolepitcheritis is a condition where a young pitcher inexplicably struggles in the majors after cruising through the minor league system. Bringing in a respected major league pitching coach to oversee the development of your minor league arms is a fantastic idea. Of course, one then must ask this: “Why not just make Peterson your major league pitching coach?” But that is why Duqette is paid the large bills so I will give him the benefit of the doubt in that regard.
The Orioles have also be linked with recent Cuban defector, 26 year-old outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. I really hope the Orioles make this guy a legitimate offer. Apparently he has a ton of talent, if a little raw. He could fill a real void in left-field and it would finally end the quasi-urban legend that Peter Angelos refuses to sign Cuban defectors because of some bargain he struck with Castro.
As it stands right now the Orioles have not changed much but it is still early. I get the feeling we may have seen Jeremy Guthrie pitch his last game as an Oriole and that makes me a very sad internet personality. Jeremy Guthrie is a gamer, he played on some bad teams and never seemed to get any run support. He deserved a much better career record than he has earned so far. I get the feeling that Duquette looks at a guy like Tommy Hunter and thinks he is basically another Guthrie, maybe with a bit more upside. Guthrie meanwhile is a respectable trade-chip going into Dallas. It is tough to say what we might be asking in return for Guthrie, but he is probably worth some high minors OF and P prospects. I don’t think we get anyone that is a slam-dunk 2012 MLB roster guy, but the Orioles should be able to get some good pieces for the reliable Stanford grad. On the surface, that sounds like the Orioles are going into rebuilding mode – again – but not really. The way I see it, Guthrie is a prime “change-of-scenery” type player and surprisingly the Orioles’ rotation is getting pretty full. Minus Gurthrie; the Orioles have Britton, Matusz, Hunter, Jim Johnson (Buck wants him in the rotation), Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken, Troy Patton and Alfredo Simon all vying for the starting rotation. Duquette has stated he wants to add starting pitching, so dealing Guthrie would be dealing from a position of strength.
The Orioles still have a lot of work ahead of them, as always. Hopefully we will have some more interesting moves to discuss by Christmas.