The Baltimore Orioles are in the midst of a grueling boxing match in the black and blue AL East. At 35-26, Buck Showalter's team is tied for second place with the Tampa Bay Rays in the division, just one game behind the New York Yankees.
It is true the Orioles at times have proven to be an enigma so far this season. At times this club inspires euphoria. Yet other times the same can make fans scratch heads or want to throw things at television sets.
It is also true Baltimore’s offense can sometimes be feast or famine. And the team’s near last place defense can make one’s blood boil.
Pitching can make fans yell, “For God’s sake throw strikes!” And losing streaks, though small, can make fans wonder if the team’s magical run is soon to expire.
Yet somehow, somehow through the fog of war, this team exudes sheer grit and utter resolve that often generates late game heroics and clutch hits as they snatch victory from jaws of defeat.
Now mid-June, the beaten and battered psyche of Baltimore’s baseball fan base has transformed from downtrodden and apathetic to guardedly hopeful.
Fans have watched this team rush through the gates of this horse race with a fury, only to watch it fall back a bit to always determined division horses.
But unlike years past, the Orioles are not retreating to the back of the horse pack.
Jockeys ahead be warned: this horse is strong. This horse has skill. This horse owns the resolve to finally hunt down a division title that has eluded this team since 1997.
Momentum building, now is the time for Baltimore’s brass to push this thoroughbred to take powerful gallops that will help this team achieve this end.
Now is the time for the Orioles to strike like a demon cobra.
Now is the time for team owner Peter Angelos and GM Dan Duquette to step up and send a bold message to the rest of the division that this ballclub is not just an early season feel good story.
This team is a predator seeking to destroy foes in the wild jungle that is the AL East.
The Orioles can start by making a responsible trade for a solid starting pitcher by the deadline.
For a team competing with the Yankees and Red Sox, this can prove a challenge. The Orioles do not have tons of electrifying prospects to trade in exchange for a top-tier pitcher. Nor does the club have blank checks it can write.
While the Orioles do have prospects Manny Machado, Xavier Avery and Jon Schoop the team must be responsible when pursuing a hurler that may help put this team over the top.
While Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum are trade options that make Orioles fans drool, they simply are not feasible at this time.
With Dylan Bundy off the table for trade, this slideshow highlights three affordable pitchers Baltimore can acquire via trade that will help the team.
This, while not obliterating the club’s piggy bank in the future.