Baltimore Orioles celebrate walkoff victory

With the Baltimore Ravens season reaching its disappointing conclusion on Sunday, many Baltimore fans turn their focus onto their baseball team.  I’ve read and heard many discussions recently focused on this idea of the Baltimore Orioles having a small window in which they need win.  There is a sense of urgency for the Orioles to make a move in order to taking advantage of this window to win, a window which according to many people is rapidly closing.  I completely disagree with the notion that the Orioles having a closing window.  In fact I would argue the opposite, the window to win for the Orioles it’s just beginning to open.

The argument that the Orioles window to win is closing goes something like this: Peter Angelos needs to make the moves so the Orioles can win now because:

1. Chris Davis and Matt Wieters will either be traded or lost to free agency in two years

2. We have some older players like Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy who skills may start to decline in the next couple years (if they haven’t already)

3. Many of the Orioles like Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Chris Tillman are currently in their prime, and we shouldn’t waste their prime years.

Before I address these closing window arguments, a general side note on Orioles discussions.  It is interesting to me how whenever anyone is getting ready to bash the Orioles it begins with “Peter Angelos is a cheap man…” (actually they usually don’t use the word “man” but I was being nice… tis the season) however, the criticism rarely ever begins “Dan Duquette and/or Buck Showalter aren’t’ bringing in the right pieces…”.  Being a general manager (I mean Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations) is a pretty good gig in Baltimore because you will always have a scapegoat in Peter Angelos.

Okay now to the “closing window argument”. Here are my counter-arguments:

1. There is no guarantee that the Orioles won’t resign Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, and it is likely that they will sign at least one of them.  Furthermore, the same people who argue that we have to win now before we lose Wieters, also argue that Wieters isn’t very good and is overrated.  So which is it? Does Wieters suck or do we need to win before we lose our sucky catcher?

2. The Orioles are not an aging ball club. According to ESPN, the Orioles have one of the younger teams in baseball with an average age of 26.6. There is also a rumor going around that Nick Markakis is so old that he actually played with the St. Louis Browns before they became the Baltimore Orioles. This rumor is not true. In fact Nick Markakis is only 30 and won’t turn 31 until after the 2014 baseball season. Likewise, the oldest player currently on the team, J.J. Hardy is only 31 and is coming of one of his offensively best statistical years.

3. It’s true that there our some Orioles like Jones, Tillman, Davis and others who appear to be in their prime as baseball players. However, multiple sources have debunked the age 27 myth and state that players usually don’t reach their peak until 29 or 30. (One such article can be found here: How Do Players Age?) Some of these players may not have even hit their prime yet, and even if they have, they certainly have many years ahead of them at a prime level. Not to mention players like Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop who are several years away from hitting their prime years.

The window is clearly not slamming shut, but I would even argue that it is actually just beginning to open.  It’s no mystery what this team lacks in becoming a serious World Series contender; the Orioles need starting pitching and help is on the way. Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy both have great arms and project to be top of the rotation guys.  They may be three or four years away from fulfilling these projections, but Gausman will certainly start contributing this season and Bundy by next season (if not the end of this season) should be a significant contributor.

Of course, these are not the first pitching prospects the Orioles drafted and were projected to be top of the rotation guys, the names of Brian Matusz, Matt Hobgood, and Adam Loewen (just to name a few) come quickly to mind. However, Gausman and Bunday feel different, and to be fair to them, their stuff is just better than any of the aforementioned busts.  Add to Bundy and Gausman the development of a young lefty Eduardo Rodriquez who projects to contribute in 2015 season and the future looks bright. A 2015 projected starting rotation of Tillman, Bundy, Gausman, Rodriquez looks a lot better than anything the Orioles have thrown out there in recent years.  Of course, these are just projections and Oriole fans have every right to feel skeptical about young pitchers developing into aces.  However, my point remains true that this influx of young starting pitching over the next couple years provides more cause for optimism than pessimism about the Orioles future.

Feel free to criticize the Orioles for not making moves (you will be in good company).  However, let’s just get rid of this notion if Orioles don’t make a big signing now then there going to lose their chance in the compete in the AL East.  The Orioles window to win is open now, so let’s take advantage, but also keep in mind that this window will remain open for years to come.

Image Credit: Keith Allison