Monday, March 25, 2013
Under the Radar
A lot of "fans" are complaining that the Baltimore Orioles haven't made any "flashy" moves heading into this season, not acquiring any big names through trades or free agent signings. Those people aren't seeing the big picture or the moustache right under their noses.
The moves the team has made were for depth, which has paid off greatly, and the results of which will be seen in both Baltimore and AAA Norfolk all season. The Orioles brought in a lot of promising young players looking for a shot and a lot of former MLB players looking for a second chance in new scenery, all eager to earn a spot on a team that's willing to dole out opportunities to those who earn them. With only a week left before Opening Day, there are still 38 players in Baltimore's Major League camp, still fighting for the last few bench and pitching spots, all of them playing well enough to still be in the discussion. Position players Lew Ford, Steve Pearce, Chris Dickerson, Alexi Cassia, Conor Jackson, Trayvon Robinson, Jason Pridie, and pitchers Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Steve Johnson, Jair Jurrjens, and T.J. McFarland have all made the front office's final roster decisions incredibly difficult. All of the team's non-flashy acquisitions and current players are proving why the team didn't need to make any headline grabbing deals.
Last year the Orioles thrived by using a lot of depth, bringing up who they needed at the time, from a pool of way more than 25 players. They played the hot hand, and gave many players opportunities. How did it work out? They were a game away from making the ALCS. There's no success in MLB without depth.
We've all heard the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The Orioles brought back all of their key players from last season except overpriced 1B Mark Reynolds. The return from injury of power hitting OF/DH Nolan Reimold and table setting leadoff man Brian Roberts will add run production to last year's Wild Card winning squad. The Orioles exciting core players keep proving why this successful, confident young team didn't need to add any major parts to their equation.
Baltimore's front office is currently looking to make yet another small splash. One of the biggest needs the organization has is catching depth. They basically have 3 worthy catchers in the whole organization. Adding depth to this specialized position will greatly improve the organization, even if it doesn't light up the news tickers.
Reliever Luis Ayala is the player the Orioles are reportedly shopping around. It's nothing against Ayala, he's just the odd man out and has trade value. They're offering him because they have other pitchers they want to keep on the roster, all of which can pitch more innings per outing than him, and can also be inserted into the starting rotation as needed. Arrieta, Johnson, and Matusz have all earned roster spots, but only one of them can be the fifth starter, so the others could be used out of the bullpen, as they each were at times last season. McFarland has a huge upside and is worth keeping in the organization, but needs Ayala's spot on the 40 and 25 man rosters, or Baltimore will lose the Rule 5 draft pick back to Cleveland.
A team's value is the sum and cohesion of its parts. Assembling a talented team of young players eager to to make their mark, giving them a chance to do so, and keeping a reserve of unselfish contributors waiting in the wings is what worked for the Orioles in 2012, leading to their first winning record and playoff appearance in a decade and a half. It's also what has the team so confident heading into the 2013 season, and what has made so many players work so hard just to make the team.
How's slapping together a bunch of high-priced superstars working out for the Yankees so far this year???
Copyright 2013 Denim McDemus