Forget Vlad Guerrero, Baltimore Orioles Need Starting Pitcher

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Forget Vlad Guerrero, Baltimore Orioles Need Starting Pitcher
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Jeremy Bonderman is one of the free-agent starters remaining the O's could pursue

There are rumors swirling around the Baltimore Orioles this weekend that there is an imminent deal involving them and free-agent designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero.  Vlad is a solid hitter when he is healthy, but he is about to turn 36 years old and would be the opposite of the direction these Orioles are going in terms of age.  Not to mention, they already have Luke Scott at DH and a crowded outfield situation, so unless they plan to trade Luke Scott there really isn't a place on the roster for him.

The O's have only one roster spot remaining on the 40-man major league roster ahead of spring training, which opens up mid-February.  The Orioles starting rotation is looking like Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman or Zachary Britton. 

After Matusz, does anyone in that rotation really strike a consistent fear in the hearts of the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays?  I would call into question your knowledge of baseball if you said yes. 

I'm not saying the top four in their rotation aren't capable or even that—Zach Britton isn't a great prospect.  I saw Britton pitch against the Harrisburg Senators last season and he is going to be special, just not yet.  Arrieta and Bergesen can be solid on the back half of a rotation.

Rather than wasting the final roster spot on an aging designated hitter, I think the Orioles should pursue one of the remaining free agent starting pitchers.  Of these, I think the best options for the Orioles include Jeremy Bonderman, Kris Benson, Freddy Garcia, Justin Duchscherer or Kevin Millwood.

All of these guys have at one time had "ace-like" stuff in their repertoire, and Bonderman and Duchscherer are in their late 20s so they could get multiple-year deals.  Benson, Garcia and Millwood would basically be one-year deals to buy a little more time for Britton and/or Tillman. 

To win in the AL East—or at least place third—you have to hit, play defense and bring good starting pitching on a consistent basis.  The Orioles have improved (even if slightly) their offense and defense, and their bullpen is solid.  Adding Vlad would be nice for showing the fans they won't back down from a big name, but adding a starter would be better for the team overall.

For more from this author visit the Bird Bytes blog.

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