Orioles Are Targeting Starting Pitching, But Not An Ace

Cliff Lee

Don’t expect this guy in Baltimore

My favorite comment about the Orioles is “this team would be a World Series contender if they had an ace.” No kidding. That remark is typically followed with “let’s see how serious they actually are about winning at the trade deadline.”

It’s funny because back when Andy MacPhail was building this core group he told everyone that he would grow the arms and buy the bats. The offense has apparently worked out quite well, Chris Davis, who was acquired with Tommy Hunter in a trade that sent Koji Uehara to Texas, is the league-leader in home runs. Team leader Adam Jones, who signed a club-friendly six-year, $85.5 million deal last season, received MVP votes for his performance in 2012 and is the locker room leader for years to come.

Yeah, the bats are there. What about the arms? MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli was asked this same question in her O’s Mailbox column on Thursday.

The Orioles are aggressively seeking another starter to help their rotation, and you can bet Duquette will explore every possible avenue. Miami’s Ricky Nolasco and Houston’s Bud Norris are on their radar, as are Angels pitcher Jason Vargas — whom they had interest in at last year’s Trade Deadline — and Seattle’s Joe Saunders, who was a late-season trade from the D-backs and started the Orioles’ first playoff win in 15 years in last year’s American League Wild Card game. Minnesota’s Mike Pelfrey is another name that has come up.


None of those guys would be seen as top of the rotation talent in the AL East, but they would be serviceable arms that could eat innings and keep the bullpen fresh, as Ghiroli points out. You’ll notice that Cliff Lee isn’t on that list. Not only are the Orioles not going to part with the talent to acquire Lee, but Ruben Amaro has shown no intention of parting ways with him either.

Of course the Orioles would be a World Series contender with an ace, but they’re confident in the talent they have in Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman and aren’t willing to trade one of those guys for a big name that can pitch for them for a few months in 2013. It’s all about the long-term plan.

In the meantime, Dan Duquette feels good about their postseason chances with another solid arm in the rotation, we saw what Joe Saunders added last season. You’ll just have to wait a little longer for that ace.

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and host of the BSR Podcast. He's a loyal Orioles, Ravens and Capitals fan who is obsessed with baseball, loves traveling, In-N-Out Burger and Walt Disney World.

37 Comments

  1. Willo

    June 21, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    My question is how long can the Orioles continue with their starting rotation averaging sub six innings and a 4.75 era before they burn up the bull pen? Seriously they need to acquire an inning eater who can provide some balance in the pen and take some of the pressure off the offense. That said, not sure who that guy is? Some of the names being mentioned as potential trades do little for me. Taking a step back, maybe the answer is to continue to plug and play with the arms presently in the system and take your chances,

    • MGW

      June 21, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      EXACTLY Willo.

      Look, who doesn’t want an Ace on their favorite team’s staff? But the truth is, they are few and far between and most teams won’t give them up for fringe prospects. Theyre going to want your top talent.

      Finally, someone speaks some sense.

  2. anvil

    June 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Maybe standing pat is the long term answer but they will not be making progress over last season with this pitching staff.

    • MGW

      June 21, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      Anvil, the team won 93 games last year and went 3-3 in the playoffs. They weren’t that far off. And acquiring a so called “Ace” guarantees nothing other than depleting your stock of players.

      You must be new around here, we’ve been there, done that with this team. The minor leagues have been neglected for 30+ years until recently. Giving up a few prospects for 10-15 starts down the stretch is a risky gamble for a team restocking its farm system.

      But I guess you’re “Mr. Vegas”, put all your mortgage money in the slot machine and hope it doubles your money.

    • spy

      June 22, 2013 at 9:06 am

      anvil is right on , the O’s will get close , but never win it without a true ace,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Angelos has already said he won’t pay for one so I see the O’s fans are bowing down to his wishes , secon place is good enough for Angelos because he is building his family trust fund and it is doing very well,,,,,,,,,,,,,,but the great fans of Balto. get the shaft again , close is good enough for most of them but not me , I want it all,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,he screwed the fans for fourteen years , it time he paid them back , go get an ace for this overworked staff and win a world series for the fans,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  3. anonymous hippopotamus

    June 21, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I would love to see Saunders come back. He obviously would fit right into team chemistry, he has post season experience and doesn’t have to make a NL/AL transition like Nolasco would. “Fans” always say “We need an Ace pitcher”, but when asked what we are supposed to give up for one, they say Jake, Zach and Avery. Really? Do you think anyone is going to trade a legit #1 starter for those guys? You have to be willing to take a chance on someone like Saunders that’s low-risk, high-reward, and hope that you can get a few solid post season starts from him.

    • MGW

      June 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      I swear Hippo is NOT me in disguise.

      Having said that, I’ve agreed with almost everything he/she has said since logging in last week.

      Everyone wants the elusive “Ace” And then everyone wants the the other team to give him up for our crap.

      • anonymous hippopotamus

        June 24, 2013 at 11:14 am

        We’re just two smart, educated baseball fans. Some call it “homerism”, I call it understanding the differences between football and baseball. Something that a LOT of “lifelong” fans do not understand.

      • 9inchnails

        June 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm

        Is hippo Spy in disguise?

        • anonymous hippopotamus

          June 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm

          There aren’t enough commas and periods in the world for the both of us ………………………………….,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,………………………….,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,……………………….,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,…………………….

        • spy

          June 26, 2013 at 2:41 pm

          You caught me once again incher,,,,,,,,,,I guess the use of “quotes” didn’t throw you off too much,,,,,,,,,

    • spy

      June 22, 2013 at 9:08 am

      They already said he wanted too much money for Angelos trust fund when they didn’t bring him back last year,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,he may be as close to an ace as the O’s will ever get…………………..

  4. anvil

    June 21, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    No, no,no, if you like the status quo than fine. OK, they had 93 wins last season, 3-3 in the playoffs. But the pitching staff is not doing what it did last year. MGW, want to put lunch on the O’s not getting past the Division series? If not, what I said before is true, going for the long term rather than this season. Nothing wrong with that but at some point you have to go for it. Getting to the playoffs year after year isn’t the goal. Getting the championship is. Or is that only in football?

  5. anvil

    June 21, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Also, let me ask, when was the last time the O’s got burned on a trade? Belle, 15 years ago? I don’t think they have to do a deal right now, they are in building mode, but they are starting to get talent. They need to pull the trigger on a deal sooner rather than later. While Jones, Markakis, and Davis are in their prime years.

    • MGW

      June 21, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      Anvil,

      We’re just not going to agree on this.

      First off, Belle was a free agent, not a trade.

      Secondly, my belief is that the team can compete with the players they have in their system now.

      Third, I don’t believe they have the pieces to make a trade for an Ace without depleting a rebuilding farm system.

      Fourth, when the Orioles go to the playoffs five straight years like the football team did, I will expect more.

      Fifth, this is the same old crap over and over.

      You want an Ace. They’re ain’t many and the price (in terms of player inventory) can set a team back for years. I don’t want to see them suffer for 14 more years making dumb, short sighted moves that deplete the farm system.

      As Buck would say “I like OUR guys”.

      Jurrjens, Chen, Johnson, now Britton are guys I think that can make the team better.

    • spy

      June 22, 2013 at 9:09 am

      absolutey correct , please listen to this man,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      • spy

        June 22, 2013 at 9:12 am

        I was talking about anvil , not MGW,,,,,,,,,,,,,,both have good comments but it’s time to pull the trigger on an ace while they have trade bait in Bundy,,,,,,,,,,,do not wait until this young group gets too old to do it and it won’t take long,,,,,,,just watch………………….anvil is speaking the truth , do it NOW…………………

  6. Chris Robinson

    June 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    I love the idea of Vargas or Saunders adding to the depth of this pitching staff … The Orioles may not have an “Ace” but they have more depth 1 – 5 than alot contenders.

    • spy

      June 22, 2013 at 9:14 am

      When you have to face the ace of a staff several times in a short series with your number two or number three guy , you are out gunned,,,,,,,,,,,,,,an ace is the only way to go,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,don’t let these young bats go to waste on a string of ‘getting close’……………….

  7. MGW

    June 22, 2013 at 11:39 am

    spy, we don’t always agree, but love that you are a regular to the site.

    Who is this “Ace” you speak of and who do we offer to get him?

    Now it’s Bundy we offer up. He of the plasma enriched injection and hasn’t thrown a ball in anger in three months.

    Os don’t have the inventory to make a deal. I know you like to blame Angelos, but he only made it worse ignoring a farm system that had been ignored for a decade and a half before he got there.

    • spy

      June 23, 2013 at 8:43 am

      Believe me MGW , if Angelos wanted one , he would get one,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,thanks for the kind words also……………

  8. mitchell

    June 22, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    The O’s don’t need a true ace to be a world series team. They have one of the best offenses in the league. There record shows. All they need is a pitcher that can eat up innings. Norris would be a huge addition because he can eat up inning, and would relax the bullpen a bit. Norris also is only 28 and his contract is through 2015. Nolasco is 30 and his contract ends this year. Bud Norris would be a perfect fit for the Os.

  9. mitchell

    June 22, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    The “Ace” definition is overrated. For instance, look at R.A. Dickey of last year in the Mets. The Mets did not make the playoffs and he was an “Ace.” Look at Felix Hernandez, an “Ace”, the mariners did not make the playoffs. An ace only plays 32 games a year, and is not guaranteed to win everyone.

    • MGW

      June 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      100% agree, Mitchell. The phillies had a staff full of “Aces” and bombed last year.

      • spy

        June 26, 2013 at 10:26 am

        People , please pay attention , it’s about winning a short series , like the world series , ,,,,,,,,,,it’s about increasing your odds of winning one , it’s not a guarantee guys , it’s just the best way to get it done………………….geeeeeeezzzzzzzz..

  10. spy

    June 23, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Hey guys , it’s all for naught,,,,,,,,,,,,,Angelos will not spring for an ace even if one was available,,,,,,,,,,,,,that’s what I’m upset about,,,,,,,,,,,,,BUT I will not change my opinion , if the O’s had an ACE they would win a world series very soon,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,by the way , you don’t always have to give up big bucks for an ace , you may have one on your staff but the o’s will never know because they cannot develop pitchers,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Baltimore is the place pitchers go to die,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    • MGW

      June 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      Right, spy. Just like they didn’t pay Roberts and they didn’t pay Markakis and they didn’t pay Jones and they didn’t pay Hardy. They gave Wieters $5 mil this year.

      But you’ll come up with reasons why they didn’t, like they are under market value, etc.
      I guess you are the guy that goes in the auto dealership and pay over sticker price instead of negotiating.

      • spy

        June 24, 2013 at 9:09 am

        None of your examples are pitchers,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,you just made my point , thank you very much,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,when was the last time Angelos paid for an ACE…………..???

        • MGW

          June 24, 2013 at 9:48 am

          I ask you again, what Ace should they go for?

          • anonymous hippopotamus

            June 24, 2013 at 11:12 am

            Don’t you know, MGW? They should go to the “Ace Pitcher Tree” and pluck one right off. Spy, what does Angelos have to do with trades? Given your typical Baltimoron logic, you blame Pete The Greek for anything and everything. What does his supposed lack of willingness to spend money have to do with trading for a “ace” pitcher? About as much as I have to do with the price of Tea in China.

          • spy

            June 25, 2013 at 9:12 am

            Poor Hippo , if you don’t realize Peter the Great has everything to do with the O’s trades there is no hope for you,,,,,,,,,,,,,,too bad , you have much potential for this site…………………..

          • anonymous hippopotamus

            June 25, 2013 at 9:24 am

            So Spy, I ask again, what does Peter Angelos alleged unwillingness to spend money have to do with trading for a starter?

          • spy

            June 26, 2013 at 10:29 am

            MY goodness Hippo,,,,,,,,,,,,it’s all about paying ofr a top pitcher,,,,,,,,,Angelos was quoted as saying he would not do this , it’s old news but it plays a huge part in the chances the O’s get an Ace to increase the odds of winning a world series…………I want them to win one as much as you do , I’m not the enemy,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Angelos is……………….

  11. Nick F

    June 24, 2013 at 12:49 am

    I would just like to take a moment and thank MGW for his consistently intelligent, rational, and not unnecessarily negative posts. Also, for understanding that baseball is different than football, a simple concept that a lot of these “lifelong” fans that started showing up to games I’m August and September don’t seem to grasp.

    I often go to post on here but he has already said exactly what I was planning to say.

    • spy

      June 24, 2013 at 9:10 am

      Maybe you can date him………………..

    • MGW

      June 24, 2013 at 9:50 am

      Nick F – Thanks for the compliment.

      As to spy’s comment, when he doesn’t have a retort, that’s what he goes to. We’re all used to it.

      • spy

        June 25, 2013 at 9:15 am

        My retort weapon is fully loaded as usual,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,by the way , his words about your comments being consistently intelligent , factional , etc, is actually right on the problem is the consistency percentage is only about 50%,,,,,,,,,,,,,but we still appreciate your efforts………………hows that for a retort………………..