The Baltimore Orioles are now officially out of the race for one of the two AL Wild Card spots. There will be no return trip to the postseason, and while this gutty team fought as hard as they could, in the end a lack of timely hitting and consistent starting pitching was their downfall.
Credit manager Buck Showalter, who did an outstanding job of guiding Baltimore to another winning season. Also, we can’t forget the master at finding bargains, Dan Duquette, the Executive Vice-President of Baseball Operations and General Manager, who once again found bodies that were cost effective and added to the team.
There is a great deal to like about this Baltimore team, but quality starting pitching sadly is not on that list. Showalter had the task of sending more starting and relief pitchers to the mound in 2013 than any other team in baseball. He did not have a true 1-5 man rotation which made the Birds skipper make way too many trips to the mound to summon in yet another pitcher from the over worked bullpen.
It is time for the Orioles in the offseason to find either on the free agent market or via trade some pitchers who can go deeper into games than five innings. The Orioles must get at least one near top of the rotation guy to help out Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, and Wei-Yen Chen. The team will also have to decide if they re-sign Scott Feldman and Jason Hammel, both of whom could test the free agent market. Yes, we know there are young arms in the Orioles’ farm system, but the team still needs a quality starter and they must look at the free agent market as a way to find their man.
The 2014 free agent pitching class is not deep in talent, but it does offer the Orioles some very interesting prospects. Ervin Santana, who is presently pitching for the Kansas City Royals, would top my personal wish list. He is a big reason why the Royals were in the playoff race this season. He has never spent a single day of his career on the disabled list, which is a key reason for giving him strong consideration. He is a lock to pitch over 200 innings and is someone with a proven track record as a quality starter.
How about Ricky Nolasco, who is pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers? He has seven consecutive winning seasons under his belt, and for the third straight season he will surpass the 190 inning mark.
Perhaps you are someone looking for a big name who could help the Birds. Well, here are a couple of guys that should be of interest.
The San Francisco Giants‘ Tim Lincecum is a two time Cy Young winner, and while he has had a couple of season where his stats have not been up to his high standards he is worthy of consideration. Many AL scouts feel that Lincecum has plenty of good stuff left and that a change to a new league could do him a world of good.
Tim Hudson of the Atlanta Braves is the last name on my list. He was having another solid year before he broke his ankle midway through the season. He would be a great addition because of his ability to win and to mentor the young arms on the Orioles staff.
Baltimore has a solid core of field players like Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Chris Davis and Nick Markakis, and there is no doubt that the Birds can be contenders. However, hopefully with the addition of a real bankable starting pitcher they can keep this playoff thing more consistent than 2012 and 1997.