The Orioles had a large amount of rookies pitching both in the rotation and out of the pen in 2009. The question is, which rookies showed that they were ready to stay in the big leagues? Let's start with the rotation. Heading into the 2010 season, there are some holes that need to be plugged for our starting five. Koji Uehara, who was previously a starter, will in all likelihood working out of the bullpen because of stamina and injury problems last year. The de facto number one starter heading into the season would be Jeremy Guthrie only because there is little competition for the position. Brian Matusz seems to have a hold on a spot next year as well as Brad Bergesen. Rich Hill was cast aside (but may return) and David Hernandez seems better suited for a bullpen spot. That leaves three spots assured, which Chris Tillman having the inside track on a fourth.
The free agent class this winter provides a plethora of options for a team looking to add a veteran in the rotation. Some of these veterans are coming off career years while others were derailed by injury in 09. Some of the often mentioned key starters on the market this offseason are John Lackey, Erik Bedard, Ben Sheets, Brad Penny, Rich Harden, Jason Marquis, Randy Wolf, Jon Garland, Carl Pavano, Jarrod Washburn, Justin Duchscherer, Randy Johnson, Brett Myers, and Vicente Padilla. Sheets, Harden, Bedard, and Duchscherer have had injury histories that may turn some teams away; while Washburn, Lackey, Marquis, and Wolf had years that may allow them to cash in this offseason.
With the Orioles current situation, the best fits out of this group seem to be Rich Harden, Ben Sheets, Carl Pavano, Jon Garland, or a return to Baltimore for Erik Bedard. These pitchers can mentor the younger guys and hopefully be innings eaters as well. Harden, Sheets, Pavano, and Bedard are all risky injury wise but can be a big help to a staff who depends on its bullpen way too heavily.
These pitchers are most likely going to sign contracts with low base salaries but incentives as well, and may be willing to settle on a one year deal. The Orioles just need pitchers to keep those rotation spots warm until the rest of the young arms develop their way in to pitchers at the major league level.
Next entry will profile available bullpen free agents as well as who would be the best fit for the Orioles at closer in 2010.