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?’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.