Oct 27, 2009, 5:19 PM EDT
Thanks in large part to the flood of talent brought in though the Erik Bedard trade, things are certainly looking up for the Orioles. Matt Wieters is going to be a superstar behind the plate, the Nolan Reimold-Adam Jones-Nick Markakis outfield should be plenty productive and is under complete control through 2013 and Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman are two of the game’s very best pitching prospects.
It isn’t yet, though, the time to try to surround the impressive young core with quality veterans. The Orioles needs simply don’t mesh with this year’s free-agent market. Matt Holliday and Jason Bay wouldn’t make nearly as much sense as Mark Teixeira did a year ago. Top talents such as John Lackey and Chone Figgins would have to be overpaid to come to Baltimore, and besides Aroldis Chapman, there isn’t much in the way of younger free agents with upside.
The Orioles aren’t one or two players away from toppling the Yankees and Red Sox, so biding their time will continue to be the right strategy. At the rate the team is developing talent, Baltimore could soon again become a preferred destination for free agents. With several top pitchers potentially available, the club might actually have a shot at Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Brandon Webb or John Beckett after next season.
In the meantime, the Orioles should look to go short term with a late-game reliever, a middle-of-the-rotation starter and a corner infielder. It’d be awfully nice if Adrian Beltre fell into their laps, but Carlos Delgado, Hank Blalock and Troy Glaus are interesting one-year options to help out at first or third. Try Jim Johnson as a starter and sign Kevin Gregg or J.J. Putz to battle Koji Uehara and the youngsters for the closer’s role. Look into Justin Duchscherer and Todd Wellemeyer as cheap rotation options.
It’s 2011 that the Orioles should be thinking about. Wieters will be established as one of the game’s top-five catchers, and with any luck, they’ll have come up with three effective starters from the group of Matusz, Tillman, Jeremy Guthrie, Brad Bergesen, Johnson, David Hernandez, Jake Arrieta and Troy Patton. That’s a team that might be just one or two veterans away from threatening the AL East’s elite.
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