This morning, AOL's Andrew Johnson took a look at the Brian Roberts extension and how it would shape the Baltimore Orioles to come. Instead of looking at the deal again -- as frankly, we've talked enough about it -- I decided to focus on the last few paragraphs about the team's future.
From AOL: Crazy as it sounds, Baltimore has a chance, albeit a somewhat remote one, to challenge the big boys in its division very soon. The offensive core is nearly in place. Nick Markakis is young and even more underrated than Roberts. Center fielder Adam Jones has a sky-high ceiling. Highly regarded prospect Matt Wieters could become the best offensive catcher in the game over the next season or two.
What the Orioles lack is pitching. Prospects like Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta have high ceilings and could move quickly through the minor leagues. To top it all off, the O's have very little on the horizon at second base. Of course, they could dip into free agency and hope for a bargain like the one the Dodgers got with Orlando Hudson, but why change one of the few things that has worked in Baltimore this decade.
I agree with the assessment of Mr. Johnson; however, I also do think that the Orioles have still a lot of work ahead of them as well. Basically, they play at least 72 games against the Rays (the division champs), the financial powerhouse of the sport -- the Red Sox and Yankees -- along with the seemingly always competitive Blue Jays in the American League East. With some of the lineups in the sport -- especially in the division -- they'll wear out the mediocre pitching of the Orioles; therefore, winning will be hard in 2009, maybe 2010 and beyond.
The young arms need to develop, Wieters must come as advertised, and there are litany of other issues that I see wrong with the organization; however, despite all of that, the Orioles have Andy MacPhail leading the way and building the team in his image.
As most fans know, the AL East is probably the most competitive division in baseball, if not all of sports. Even if Baltimore's blueprint goes as planned, they still have an uphill climb just because of the resources of the Red Sox and Yankees. The Orioles should have some extra money to spend because of MASN; however, they are no match for the two aforementioned teams.
The way they are going to compete is to keep building from within, hoarding young talent, and the draft.