Baltimore Orioles: Are They Still Better Than the Superstar-Filled Jays in 2013?

Drew ReynoldsContributor IIINovember 19, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 24:  Adam Jones #10 of the Baltimore Orioles is tagged out trying to steal third base in the eighth inning by Brett Lawrie #13 of the Toronto Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 24, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Pending the outcome of a blockbuster trade, the AL East is about to get even more competitive.

The trade between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays would send starting pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher John Buck and utility man Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto, while Miami would receive starter Henderson Alvarez, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, shortstop Yuni Escobar and catcher Jeff Mathis, along with three prospects.

The Blue Jays have also signed outfielder Melky Cabrera to a two year deal.

Do these two transactions make the Jays contenders? Are they at least better than the Baltimore Orioles?

On paper, the Jays might be better than the O's.

The acquisition of Buehrle and Johnson should improve the Jays' struggling rotation. Emilio Bonifacio's speed and versatility could help the Jays in multiple ways. If Melky Cabrera can recover from his suspension, he can be useful. Finally, Jose Reyes is a superstar, and was just healthy for a full season for the first time since 2008.

The Orioles, on the other hand, have yet to make a meaningful transaction this offseason. The Jays have to be better than the O's now, right?

Not so fast.

Yes, the Blue Jays have improved and they do look good on paper. But do you know who else looked good on paper last season? The Miami Marlins.

I'm not saying the Blue Jays will be as bad as the Marlins were last year, but they can't automatically be looked at as World Series contenders. The Blue Jays were last in the AL in bullpen ERA in 2012. This trade does nothing to change that.

Speaking of teams who looked good on paper, you know what team in 2012 didn't look good on paper? The Baltimore Orioles. Luckily for them, the game isn't played on paper.

Stat-wise, the Orioles and Blue Jays were actually very similar teams last season. At the plate, both teams were rather even. The two teams were also ranked 9th and 10th in starting pitching ERA.

With these transactions, the Jays could have a slight advantage offensively and at starting pitching, but both teams are roughly even. Still, the only thing that really separated the two last season is the performance of their bullpens. While the Jays' bullpen was part of their downfall, the O's thrived because of theirs.

There's a ton of time left in the offseason. Neither the Blue Jays or Orioles are done making transactions. But as of right now, who's the better team?

At first glance, with all the big names, it's easy to say the Blue Jays. However, if you look a little deeper, it's probably still the Orioles. The teams are similar, but Baltimore's bullpen gives them the advantage.