Once again, the Orioles have reached a losing season. Miraculously, it's also the 14th straight time the O's will not lose 100 games. But, O's fans have returned to see the team's resurgence down the stretch.
However, "mediocrity" is a word that won't sit well with baseball fans in Baltimore. But another "M" word, "momentum", should bring more wins down the stretch, in the new season and, hopefully, a playoff berth.
But first, the Oriole front office, who will see the departure of GM Andy MacPhail by season's end, need to go on a shopping spree.
So, with that in mind, here are the five acquisition types that Baltimore should go after in the winter meetings.
In 2011, the Orioles started out of the gate with a mix of fundamentals, clutch hitting and solid young pitching. While they did have some bumps in the road, the O’s prevailed, until Mark Connor abruptly resigned—the Birds then hit a flat tire.
The sudden announcement, along with instituting bullpen coach Rick Adair as the interim pitching coach, really seemed to turn the team into a tailspin.
A good pitching coach, like the great Ray Miller (pictured), should help bring back Weaverball (pitching, defense and the three-run homer) in Baltimore.
Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie do make a great platoon for the Orioles in left field, bringing shades of the Gary Roenicke/John Lowenstein duo of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
However, the O’s front office may want to give Reimold and Pie one more year of seasoning. In the meantime, a good bet would be Josh Willingham.
Willingham (pictured) hit 20 HRs in five of the last six seasons, playing in stadiums accustomed to pitchers (ex: Sun Life Stadium and Nationals Park). And given the fact that Luke Scott’s time might cease in Birdland very soon, he would be a good pickup for a future DH on the roster.
Oriole fans can now exhale (or rejoice) that Michael Gonzalez has been traded away.
But, a good southpaw in the bullpen would improve on their clutch pitching.
While Hideki Okajima from their rival Red Sox, or luring crafty vet Arthur Rhodes back to Baltimore for one more go around would be a good addition, the best choice would be Javier Lopez.
Lopez (pictured) made at least 60 appearances and had an ERA of 3.10 or lower in each four of the last five seasons. Also, he has a World Series ring to give the Birds another clubhouse leader.
Recently, the O’s starting rotation has been filled with some hit and misses. Jeremy Guthrie is closing in on his fourth straight 10-win season, but has amassed his fourth straight double-digit loss year, too.
As for the young guns, Brian Matusz burrowed into a sophomore slump with no quality starts since August, Jake Arrieta was solid until elbow surgery shut him down in that same month and Zack Britton has come alive late with his crash course rookie season.
However, the young staff still needs some guidance. So, getting a young veteran starter would help push the Birds from cellar dwellers to the beasts of the AL East. Two new flamethrowers could include Brandon Webb from the Rangers.
In each of his last three seasons, Webb (pictured) has won at least 15 games, posted an ERA of 3.30 or lower and averaged approximately seven innings pitched.
His Rangers teammate, C.J Wilson, won at least 15 games, pitched over 200 innings and a WHIP of no more than 1.25 in back-to-back campaigns.
Either one of these additions could make the Orioles pitching compete with the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays respective rotations.
The obvious selections for first base would be either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder. Both men contain tremendous power, some underrated defensive abilities and great leadership skills, with Pujols and Fielder leading their respective ballclubs to the postseason.
However, a few things might prevent them from coming to Charm City: a big bank account and a lack of necessity.
Pujols would probably stay in the NL Central and Fielder might go looking elsewhere, but both would expect to be paid handsomely. Also, the O’s might not need a first baseman.
With the injuries to Luke Scott and the trade of Derrek Lee to the Pirates in July, Buck Showalter implemented a bold decision in moving Mark Reynolds from the hot corner to first base. Since then, Reynolds’ errors have significantly dropped.
So, the front office could go after Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez has a good glove and has hit at least 25 HR in nine of the last 11 seasons.
Most of those homers come from Wrigley Field, where the ball will fly if the winds goes out.
Frankly, at Camden Yards, a true hitter's ballpark, either one of these men could join Reynolds and J.J. Hardy. With that, O’s fans could be looking at three men with 30 HRs by next season’s end.