Throughout most of the offseason, the Baltimore Orioles had fans very concerned with their willingness to let free agency play itself out. Then all of a sudden the signings came raining down, but did the Orioles do enough this offseason to make themselves World Series contenders?
The Orioles only made small depth signings for the majority of the offseason until February rolled along. Baltimore had traded Danny Valencia to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for David Lough, signed Ryan Webb and Delmon Young and they had also traded Jim Johnson to the Oakland Athletics in what was basically a salary-dump. The botched signing of Grant Balfour had fans preparing a riot until all of a sudden Dan Duquette started throwing money at players like he thought he was Brian Cashman.
Suk-min Yoon agreed to a three-year contract with the Orioles, and with that the floodgates had opened. Two days after that, the Orioles gave Ubaldo Jimenez $50 million over four years, and five days after that Nelson Cruz agreed to a one-year deal worth $8 million to play for Buck Showalter and his Orioles.
Baltimore did exactly what the fans wanted and spent money to make the team better. Now, the real question is, how much better did these signings make the Orioles?
The Orioles have gone 178-146 over the past two seasons, making the playoffs in 2012 with 93 wins and narrowly missing the postseason in 2013 with 85 wins with far inferior ball clubs. The 2012 Orioles will forever be remembered as the team that re-ignited Baltimore’s love of baseball, but they were also historically lucky. In 2013 the Orioles dominated offensively, but ultimately their lack of pitching was their downfall as they missed the playoffs by six and a half games.
Baltimore now has arguably the best offense in baseball, and they are backed by one of the greatest defenses in history. Their pitching has improved since last season as well, giving the team a solid bullpen and potentially a strong starting rotation.
The acquisition of Jimenez will make the biggest impact on the Orioles. Jimenez gives Baltimore’s starting rotation newfound depth. Not only is the rotation deeper when it comes to talent, but there are also plenty of other players that will be able to fill in if someone gets hurt or somebody underperforms.
Cruz makes the Orioles’ lineup one of the best lineups in baseball, because they now have seven players with a legitimate chance to blast 20 home runs. If you thought Baltimore’s offense was potent last year, just wait until you see this offense perform.
While it’s way too early to make any real World Series predictions, I’m among those who wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Orioles make a run at the ultimate trophy in the 2014 season.