New Year's Resolutions for the Baltimore O's in 2015
It is officially the year 2015, and with the holiday season in the rearview mirror, the countdown to spring training, as well as Opening Day, has begun.
The offseason is just over halfway through at this point, and many free agents are off the board. What's more, plenty of trades have been made, making that market a little bit tougher for interested teams as well.
The Baltimore Orioles are a team still looking to improve before the start of the 2015 regular season. With a strong and deep team already in place, it won't take much for the O's to field a roster they believe will win them a second consecutive AL East title.
They do still have some work to do, however, as they've had a relatively quiet offseason after losing some key pieces to their success this past season in Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller.
The O's don't need to take a "new year, new team" mentality into 2015, but they do need to do a couple of things.
Here are a few New Year's resolutions for the Birds.
Find a Left-Handed Hitting Outfielder
With Markakis agreeing to a deal with the Atlanta Braves, the O's are out a right fielder and a leadoff man.
The team has some young, exciting players in the minors, such as Dariel Alvarez and Mike Yastrzemski, who could eventually take one of the corner outfield jobs during the 2015 or 2016 seasons, but it wouldn't be wise to hand one of them the job to start the season this time around.
With that said, the O's need to find a solid option who could sign short term and/or could be easily moved should Alvarez or Yastrzemski come banging down the door to the majors.
Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reported that the O's have shown interest in outfielders Colby Rasmus, Ichiro Suzuki and Nori Aoki (pictured). All three of those players are left-handed hitting outfielders who could fill in a spot in the corner outfield, though Rasmus has played 731 career games in center field compared to 15 in the corner outfield spots.
Also, the O's are interested in lefty outfielder Will Venable of the San Diego Padres, according to Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun. However, with the Padres trading Seth Smith, another left-handed hitting outfielder, to the Seattle Mariners just days ago, the team may want to keep Venable, as its three projected outfield regulars are all right-handed hitters.
According to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports, Orioles manager Buck Showalter actually has a meeting set up for sometime next week with Rasmus at his Georgia home. If Showalter deems Rasmus acceptable for the team's clubhouse, the outfielder and the team could strike a deal.
While not all of the remaining options are as attractive as some fans may like to see, there are options out there for the Orioles. One thing is certain: They need to add someone to their outfield mix.
Add Pitching and Catching Depth
The Orioles are a team that already possesses a good starting rotation, a strong bullpen and solid catching depth.
Yet they're still looking to add players in each of those areas.
The O's currently have six starters for five rotation slots for the 2015 season: Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris, Kevin Gausman and Ubaldo Jimenez. Only one of those pitchers is left-handed (Chen), so the team could look to add one more arm to stash in the minors and call upon in the case that one or more of these guys goes down.
For the bullpen, the O's lost a key piece in Andrew Miller when the lefty late-inning specialist signed with the New York Yankees. The team did bring in Wesley Wright, but he can't be relied upon to put up the same ridiculous numbers that Miller did. At this point, it's all about adding depth and hoping guys like Tommy Hunter, Darren O'Day and Zach Britton can have great seasons like they did last year.
And when it comes to catching, the O's have good options in All-Star Matt Wieters (pictured, left), Caleb Joseph and recently claimed Ryan Lavarnway. They have Chance Sisco and Michael Ohlman being groomed in the minors. But Wieters is coming off of Tommy John surgery, so it's likely he will need some time to adjust to the level of competition again.
Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette will be working hard to add plenty of depth before the season begins.
Figure out Potential Extensions
The Orioles have a ton of players due to hit free agency after the conclusion of the 2015 season—10, to be exact.
Steve Pearce, Delmon Young, Alejandro De Aza, Wesley Wright, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, Tommy Hunter, Ryan Webb, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis (pictured) are all under contract for just one more year, meaning the O's need to figure out who is worth keeping, who is worth letting go and who they should potentially attempt to trade before the start of the season or at the trade deadline/extend a qualifying offer to at the season's end.
This is one of those times where I'm glad I'm not the man in charge of the Orioles. Figuring this all out is sure to be a headache.
A lot of these decisions will depend on how these players perform during this season as well as how potential replacements perform in the minor leagues.
I can guarantee that at least some of these guys will be extended. If the O's want to compete in 2016 and beyond, they can't afford to lose that many key contributors all at once.
As a fan, it'll be interesting to see how it's all handled.
Win the World Series
The Orioles have been a strong team for three straight years now.
If you add up the last three seasons' regular-season records, the Orioles have the best win-loss record in the AL East. They've made the playoffs two of the last three years. The team won the division and went to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1997 this past season.
The O's are a team that is so close to a title. They just need to find the absolute perfect combination of players to do so.
Many, including myself, thought 2014 would be their season, but unfortunately, they ran into a hot Kansas City Royals team they just couldn't handle at the time.
After having been so close, the team is surely hungry to go all the way in 2015. The Orioles have a fantastic core in place, a superb manager and a front office that knows how to build around what's already there and seems to make all the right moves during the season.
With many players entering the final season of their contract this year, as highlighted in the previous slide, now is the time for the Orioles to make it happen.