I was somewhat optimistic that the Orioles in 2008 -- at least until the end of July -- could approach the .500 mark and perhaps start looking forward to finally getting out the AL East cellar in 2009.
Well, obviously I was proven wrong and a couple of people called me out on my high hopes as the team flatlined from mid-August until the end of the season.
That being said, Sports Illustrated recently previewed our division and gave us fans a sobering look at the organization:
If the Jays should look beyond 2009, the same goes doubly for the 68-win Orioles, who employed the fifth-oldest lineup in the league, one in which only Jones and Nick Markakis were on the right side of 30. For far too long the O's have been in denial about their plight, which now extends to 11 straight losing seasons. A typical winter's patchwork involves trying to get them to 75 wins, a level that the Orioles have actually reached just once in this millennium. This only forestalls a more extensive rebuilding effort; they need to face the music and clean house. Take the rotation -- please. The unit's ERA as a whole was an MLB-worst 5.51, and Jeremy Guthrie was the only member with at least a dozen starts and an ERA below 5.25; in that light perpetually maddening Daniel Cabrera starts to make sense because of his ability to eat innings. The Orioles need another arm or two to stabilize a corps of not-so-young and none-too-effective pitchers like Radhames Liz and Garret Olsen, but they shouldn't overpay for name-brand studs on long-term deals, because they're a couple of years away from a credible run at .500, let alone the division flag. Paging Odalis Perez...As much as I'd like to disagree with this assessment, I agree with it. It looks like your young pitching needs more time, seasoning, and at this point I would only pencil in Jeremy Guthrie as a starter.
I think no matter who we acquire from the free agent market -- whether it be a Teixeira, Burnett, Izturis, Byrd, or anyone else -- how does that impact the rebuilding process? Do we see steady improvement, or are we destined to repeat the same mistakes for the past decade? While we need some free agents to make the team more competitive in the near future, no one should be fooled into thinking we'll have a plan to contend unless the organization is built from the bottom up.
While the foundation and the blueprint may be laid out, the Orioles are not even done building the first floor of the house despite some promising arms in the minors and Matt Wieters.