The Orioles have a lot of young talent on their roster. But how can they compete in the upcoming season? The answer is simple.
Peter Angelos needs to be aggressive. If he goes out and spends a little bit of money the possibilities may be endless. The Orioles only spent a little over $67 million last season, which ranks 22 ND in the league. To put this in perspective, the Yankees payroll is over $141 million more.
I have always said baseball needs a salary cap. Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets always spend money and seem to linger around come playoff time. If there isn’t going to be a salary cap anytime soon, Angelos needs to put out some money to help build at least a contender in Baltimore.
There are a few people who are free agents this winter, who, if the price is right, could really help the Orioles make some noise in the American League East.
Mark Teixeira, who grew up in Maryland, would be a perfect fit at first base. Lacking a consistent power hitter for some time, Teixeira could be the missing piece.
Teixeira, 28, hit 33 homeruns last season, 121 RBI’s and batted .308 with the Angels and the Braves. Although he may ask for a big contract, Teixeira has proven he is worth the money with consistency and timely hitting.
One position the Orioles struggled with this past season was at shortstop. David Eckstein could fill that void with defense, speed and his ability to be a contact hitter.
Eckstein, 34, would be one of the oldest Orioles on the ball club, but the team definitely needs a player who has winning and playoff experience. Eckstein, who last year played with the Toronto Blue Jays, did not have a particularly great season, batting just .277 with the ball club with only one homerun and two stolen bases.
But Eckstein’s experience and defense would give the Orioles a great defensive infield and a more positive clubhouse.
Starting pitching has also been a major challenge for the Orioles. Lacking the strong ace, who not only can go seven plus innings, but can also match up against the other team’s ace has been a haunting task.
There are two pitchers who can fit in the ace spot, Jon Garland and A.J. Burnett. If the Orioles can manage to sign one of these two pitchers, this would then move Guthrie to the second spot, which would make him a more successful pitcher and give them a much stronger rotation.
Garland, 29, has been a standout for the Chicago White Sox and Anaheim Angels since 2000. Garland’s 14 wins and 4.90 ERA would solidify a more stable rotation.
A.J. Burnett, 32, would also make an impact on the starting rotation. Burnett’s 18 wins and 4.07 ERA could make him one of the biggest pitching free agent’s this winter. But with the right price and since Burnett resides right here in Maryland, he could be a major impact.
The Orioles also need to make major changes to the bullpen. Trading off George Sherrill may not be a bad outcome, with Chris Ray, who could return as the closer, recovering from elbow surgery.
Hopefully the Orioles will sign at least one of these players and potentially allow them to make a run at the AL East title.