Baltimore Orioles State Of The Union Part 2: Ways to Address the Starting Pitching Weakness

In order to have a chance to win the very competitive AL East, pitching is crucial. For the Orioles, there are a few ways they can attack this offseason in hopes to find some quality pitchers to strengthen their staff.  2014 may represent their best chance to go far in the playoffs considering the struggles over the New York Yankees, the Blue Jays and the Rays will likely see a decline when they trade ace David Price.

In order to have a chance to win the very competitive AL East, pitching is crucial. For the Orioles, there are a few ways they can attack this offseason in hopes to find some quality pitchers to strengthen their staff. 2014 may represent their best chance to go far in the playoffs considering the struggles of the New York Yankees, the Blue Jays and the Rays will likely see a decline when they trade ace David Price in 2014.

By Nicholas Delahanty (Guest MLB Reports Writer)   

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After a season in which they won 85 games and finished tied for 3rd place in the AL East, the Baltimore Orioles need to bolster their starting rotation in order to make a push towards the top of the division in 2014.

The numbers don’t lie, as the Orioles starting rotation ranked in the bottom part of the league in most categories, including ERA and innings pitched.

As of right now, the Orioles have four guys penciled in to their rotation next season (Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, and Bud Norris), so they need to try to bring in one or two arms to compete for rotation spots.

Chris Tillman Highlights of A Shutout

Category

Numbers

MLB Rank

ERA

4.57

27th

Innings Pitched

939

22nd

Wins

56

13th

Losses

51

21st

Complete Games

2

24th

Runs Allowed

496

5th Highest

Homeruns Allowed

145

Most Allowed

Total Bases

1621

2nd Most

According to ESPN.com numbers, here’s how the Orioles’ rotation rotation ranked in 2013:

So how do they acquire more Starting Pitching?

One way would be to use All-Star shortstop J.J. Hardy as trade bait. Right now his value is at an all-time high, as he is coming off a season where he won both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards.

The 31-year-old is coming off a season where he 25 homeruns and batted in 76 runs at a position where power numbers like these are rare. He has one year remaining on his 3-year, $22 million dollar contract.

A team that has been mentioned in rumors regarding Hardy is the St. Louis Cardinals, who have an over-abundance of young talented pitching and a desperate need for a good hitting shortstop.

In 2013, the three players who played the position for the Cardinals (Daniel Descalso, Pete Kozma, and Ryan Jackson) combined to post a .222 batting average, while only hitting four homeruns and knocked in 56 RBIs total.

There were talks that the two teams were discussing a trade that would send Hardy to St. Louis for Shelby Miller, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports shot those rumors down, saying the Cardinals had no interest in acquiring Hardy. 

If another team makes an offer for Hardy that the Orioles can’t refuse, they do have someone already on the roster to fill the hole at shortstop. 

Camden Yards has seen nice jumps in attendance in the last 2 years, by going from 1.7 MIL fans in 2011, to 2.1 MIL in 2012, and over 2.5 MIL in 2013, however if this team doesn't want to spend over the $100 MIL mark, the club may start trending the other way again.  This team is ready to compete for a championship.  It is on the ownership and brass to sign the necessary pieces on Starting Pitching to do just that,

Camden Yards has seen nice jumps in attendance in the last 2 years, by going from 1.7 MIL fans in 2011, to 2.1 MIL in 2012, and over 2.5 MIL in 2013, however if this team doesn’t want to spend over the $100 MIL mark, the club may start trending the other way again. This team is ready to compete for a championship. It is on the ownership and brass to sign the necessary pieces on Starting Pitching to do just that.  Whether its trading from a position of strength with Hardy, or signing Starters in a perceived overpay, this problem must be addressed heading into 2014.

The team could elect to move young superstar Manny Machado back to shortstop, a position he played throughout his career.

Machado is coming off a season-ending injury, but should be ready for the start of the season. For a young talent like him, the adjustment back to shortstop wouldn’t be too difficult. 

The club could also use Danny Valencia at 3B – and there is also Jonathan Schoop waiting in the Minor Leagues – that could play 2B/3B/SS.

There is little chance that the O’s will be resigning Hardy – with the type of cash he is going to warrant in Free Agency next winter, so this is way to ensure you receive something back for him.

If a Hardy trade doesn’t work out, the Orioles should keep their eyes on the Oakland Athletics, who have an abundance of pitching as well.

If the team decides to resign Bartolo Colon, the A’s could possibly have 7 pitchers battling for 5 rotation spots.

This could mean that the team might look to trade one or two to help bolster the rest of their roster, and if so, could be interested in some of the prospects the O’s could offer. 

Garza would be a nice fit in Baltimore.  While he did struggle when he came back to the AL with Texas, he does possess ace-like stuff when he is on his game.  Garza was a valued member of the rotation during the Tampa Bay Rays World Series run in 2008.  Better yet, he is AL East battle tested, which would provide a great veteran steward for the young Staff.

Garza would be a nice fit in Baltimore. While he did struggle when he came back to the AL with Texas, he does possess ace-like stuff when he is on his game. Garza was a valued member of the rotation during the Tampa Bay Rays World Series run in 2008. Better yet, he is AL East battle tested, which would provide a great veteran steward for the young Staff.  while the near 30 year old will cost a lot of money to nail down on a contract, the Orioles should vy for his services.  Their window to compete in a vaunted AL East is only so long, and they can’t count on young phenoms Dylan Bundy, or even Kevin Gausman to produce on a playoff caliber club in 2014.

If you take out of consideration the pitchers that are going to demand the highest prices this offseason (such as Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco, and Matt Garza among others), there are a few quality pitchers that can be signed for a much lower price.

One pitcher that can come into play for this team is Tim Hudson, the 38-year-old right hander who has had a lot of success throughout his career.

Hudson would be a perfect fit, if healthy, being that he would bring leadership to a pitching staff that could really use it.

For a team who needs quality innings out of their starting rotation, Baltimore could be intriguing Hudson on a 2-year deal, as the recent hiring of pitching Coach Dave Wallace brings ties from Atlanta that can help draw the veteran righty to Camden Yards.

Another pitcher that can be of interest to the Orioles is Bronson Arroyo, the 37-year-old right hander who spent the last 8 seasons pitching for the Cincinnati Reds.

Arroyo adds durability to a staff, as he has never missed a start nor has ever been placed on the disabled list, while providing quality innings every season.

Only once in his eight seasons in Cincinnati did Arroyo fail to throw over 200 innings, and has dealt with the pressures of the AL East before, having won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2003. 

Other notable pitchers that could attract the Orioles interest include Bartolo Colon and Roy HalladayScott Feldman and Jason Hammel, who both pitched for the Orioles this past season, could be brought back on one-year deals.

Arroyo would be a perfect compliment to the Starters the Orioles currently have, and if all went well, you have a cagey Veteran with several years of playoff experience to help your squad.  His price tag will not be as high as some of the other Starters on the 2014 FA Market.

Arroyo would be a perfect compliment to the Starters the Orioles currently have, and if all went well, you have a cagey Veteran with several years of playoff experience to help your squad. His price tag will not be as high as some of the other Starters on the 2014 FA Market.

There are many different ways the Orioles can attack this offseason in hopes to help strengthen one of their biggest weaknesses of 2013.

If the trade market turns out to be weak, the O’s can turn to free agency, where a lot of veteran pitchers can be signed for a reasonable deal.

In order to win in free agency, the Orioles don’t have to win the big named guys on the market, but if they are able to find one or two veteran pitchers to add to their rotation, this team could find itself back on top of the division in 2014.

The next feature we do on the Orioles, will contain a write up on their Bullpen needs.

Hardy is one of the best offensive Shortstops (just winning the Silver Slugger for the AL)  in the game - and is a Gold Glove recipient from 2012 and 2013.  The O's have some decisions to make past next year on who to keep.  The Orioles did not have many problems scoring this past campaign.  With Machado being able to slide back to his natural position at SS, and a couple of other options for 3B, the team could stand to receive a nice Starting Pitcher in Hardy.  A team like the Cardinals would be perfectly suited for such a notion.

Hardy is one of the best offensive Shortstops (just winning the Silver Slugger for the AL this past season) in the game – and is a Gold Glove recipient from 2012 and 2013. The O’s have some decisions to make past next year on who to keep. The Orioles did not have many problems scoring this past campaign. With Machado being able to slide back to his natural position at SS, and a couple of other options for 3B, the team could stand to receive a nice Starting Pitcher for Hardy. A team like the Cardinals would be perfectly suited for such a notion.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners ***

For all of the Rosters, Depth Charts, State of the Unions and Salaries Posts that we do, please visit our dedicated page link here.

A big thanks goes out to our Guest Writer Nicholas Delahanty for preparing today’s featured article.  Nicholas is a current student at Felician College, studying Broadcast Journalism with a minor in English. He served as the Broadcast and Media Relations Intern for the New Jersey Jackals in 2013, and also hosts a radio show on WRFC Felician College Radio Station called ‘Around the Bases.’ Nicholas recently started working as a broadcaster for Felician College Basketball games, and is a student-writer for the college’s monthly magazine. He volunteers as a baseball and basketball coach in Garfield, New Jersey, and also volunteers as the announcer for the town’s Junior Boilermaker Football program.

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About nickdelahantymlbreports

Team Correspondent Writer for MLBReports.com, covering the Baltimore Orioles

Posted on November 16, 2013, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions, MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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