Should The Orioles Make A Blockbuster Deal Before the Deadline?
Posted by nickdelahantymlbreports
By Nicholas Delahanty (MLB Reports Writer) Follow @Nick_Delahanty
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As July rapidly approaches, the Orioles find themselves in the middle of the competitive AL East division trying to make a run at a division title in 2014.
Although the team finds themselves currently in second place in the division, the O’s have seen inconsistency throughout the first half of the season.
There are definitely places where the team can improve before the July 31st trade deadline, but the question remains of whether or not Dan Duquette and the Orioles front office want to part ways with some of the club’s promising young talent for a possible rental player.
Time to Worry About the Pitching?
If the team has any belief that this is their year to compete, then they must make moves before the trade deadline.
When the Orioles made the big free agent splash in signing Ubaldo Jimenez to a 4 YR/50 MM contract, many people felt that he would slide into the rotation nicely, adding some much needed depth and veteran leadership to a staff that could definitely use it.
However, Jimenez has had his struggles so far, and has some fans wondering why the team elected to give him a big contract.
His 2-8 record with a 4.70 ERA in 16 starts shows the inconsistency that Jimenez has shown so far this season, and if they want to contend, the Orioles have to hope that he figures things out quickly.
With every negative comes a positive, and some other pitchers in the Orioles’ rotation have stepped up.
Good pitching from Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris along with a few promising starts from young prospect Kevin Gausman, the Orioles definitely have something positive to look at in regards to the rotation.
The major issue is not having that true ace that can eat innings and provide a leader for the younger pitchers to look up to.
Buck Showalter has had to rely on his bullpen a lot early on, as they currently have the 6th most innings pitched in all of baseball.
This goes back to the starting pitching problems, as the starters need to provide more length in games in order to keep the bullpen fresh for the stretch run.
An important decision by the Orioles’ front office must be made, as the team must decide if it is worth parting with some of their top prospects in order to acquire a pitcher of the caliber of an ace.
Possible Trade Candidates
There are two big names on the pitching market that figure to draw a lot of phone calls up until the July 31st Trade Deadline: David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays and Jeff Samardzija of the Chicago Cubs.
There are other pitchers that might become available, such as James Shields of the Kansas City Royals and Cliff Lee (if healthy) from the Philadelphia Phillies, but most of the big names available have the same issue: their contracts are almost up with their current clubs, and it will take a big contract offer in order to get them to resign.
Known for not giving out major contracts to free agents, the Orioles put themselves in a position where they have to decide on whether or not they want to part with some of their top prospects in order to acquire one of these big names.
It might be tough to try to convince the Rays to send David Price to a team in their own division, so Samardzija is their best bet if he is unwilling to sign a contract extension with the Cubs.
It would take a steep price to acquire him (probably Gausman and/or Bundy with more prospects), but acquiring him does two things for the club: 1) it gives them that ace that they so desperately look for, and 2) it keeps Samardzija from being traded to one of their division rivals (such as Toronto or New York).
However, if I’m Dan Duquette, if the price isn’t right in trying to get one of these front of the line starters, I turn my attention to other pitchers that can be effective at a lower price tag.
There are bound to be starting pitching available from clubs that become sellers (such as the struggling Brandon McCarthy of the Arizona Diamondbacks) that could be acquired for a smaller price and could prove to be helpful down the stretch run.
I do think that the club needs to address the bullpen, and possibly add an arm or two that can help eat innings.
I would love for them to make a run at San Diego Padres’ closer Huston Street, as he would be a great fit and could allow the Orioles to use Tommy Hunter, Britton, and O’Day as set-up men in a bullpen that could be one of the league’s best.
With regards to the starting pitching, I truly expect the club to make some type of move to bring in another arm or two, but I’m not sold that they are willing to give up guys like Dylan Bundy and Gausman for a big name pitcher who might elect not to sign an extension with the club.
In order to be a true contender, the O’s need to add a little more depth into the pitching staff, as you need depth in your pitching staff in order to compete for a playoff spot.
Offense: Keep “Cruzin”
With the third best team batting average in all of baseball, the Orioles offense has been impressive so far this year, thanks in large part to Nelson Cruz.
After signing just before the season, Cruz is making everyone who passed up signing him regret it, as his .293 BA with 24 HRs and 64 RBIs has put him in serious contention to be named an American League All-Star.
A few things do scare me with this lineup. Replacing a bat like Matt Wieters (who is out for the season with Tommy John surgery) is never easy, so the guys who have stepped up in his absence (such as Steve Pearce) need to continue the hot trend in order to be successful.
I don’t necessarily think the club has to make a huge move to replace Matt Wieters but I know for sure that guys such as J.J. Hardy have to find a power surge to help keep this lineup. It’s only a matter of time before Hardy finds a power surge, as he’s a player that has 20+ homer power once he gets in a groove.
Another concern I have is with Chris Davis. After having a monster 2013 campaign, Davis has struggled average wise this season, only posting a .222 BA in 62 games.
He did miss some time with an injury, and I’m sure that I am not the only person concerned so far, but the Orioles lineup needs Davis clicking on all cylinders in order to compete.
In order to be successful, the Orioles need Davis to hit for average as well, as once he hits for average, the power, just like Hardy’s will eventually start to show up.
My other cause of concern is the maturity of Manny Machado.
After an impressive season once he was called up to the big league club, Machado has yet to get things going, and has shown signs of immaturity (such as the bat incident vs. Oakland which earned him a 5 game suspension).
The Orioles just need him to act more maturely and worry about his play, as his .236 BA was definitely not what the club expected out of him so far this year.
Of course, like every team there is room to improve offensively, but I think that the Orioles are one of the few teams in the game that don’t need to make a drastic offensive move in order to be successful.
They have a nice core in place, and if healthy, this team could become dangerous when some of their big bats start to find their groove.
What To Expect Before the Deadline
As we are about a month away from the MLB Trade Deadline, I truly expect to see the Orioles being “Buyers” this season. This team has a legitimate shot to compete, and with a few moves, this organization could very well line themselves up for a long playoff run.
I don’t think that the club makes any drastic blockbuster type of trades (Such as one for Samardzija), but I do expect them to be active. I truly expect to see some of their top prospects making an impact with the MLB team this season, and parting with their top prizes is one of the main reasons why I don’t see a big move in the near future for the Orioles.
Orioles fans should be excited, as this could become very interesting as the team battles for a division title in a very competitive AL East.
This team looks to be heading in the right direction, let’s see if the front office can make some moves to help bolster a roster that already has a lot of talent on it.
*** 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 ***
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.
You can Follow Nicholas on Twitter Follow @Nick_Delahanty
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About nickdelahantymlbreportsTeam Correspondent Writer for MLBReports.com, covering the Baltimore Orioles
Posted on June 27, 2014, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged 2014 New York Yankees, 2014 Toronto Blue Jays, @nick_delahanty on twitter, adam jones, AL East, all-star, arizona diamondbacks, baltimore orioles, brandon mccarthy, buck showalter, chicago cubs, chris davis, chris tillman, Chuck Booth, cliff lee, dan duquette, darren o'day, david price, dylan bundy, huston street, j.j. hardy, james shields, jeff samardzija, kevin gausman, manny machado, matt wieters, mlb, mlb reports, nelson cruz, new york yankees, nick delahanty, nick markakis, oakland a's, orioles, philadelphia phillies, steve pearce, tampa bay rays, tommy hunter, Tommy John Surgery, trade deadline, ubaldo jimenez, wei-yin chen, zach britton. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.