The Orioles Window To Win

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

8 Comments

  1. Ravens2488

    December 31, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    The window will remain open? You say in 3-4 years Bundy and Gausman will be on their game… That may be true but then players like Weiters, Markakis, maybe Davis, Hardy will be gone, replaced by Rule 5 or “Designated for Assignment players.

    And don’t be so sure on Bundy and Gausman being any good. When was the last time an Oriole farmhand pitcher did good?

    Its Oriole Apologists like you who keep the blinders on and drink the orange Kool Aid.

    Look, the fans know whats going on with this bunch of clowns and they will show it by not showing up this season. The fans are tired of the bull crap with this team, especially considering how close they were to the playoffs yet nothing is done to get them over the hump, in fact it’s going backwards.

    Attendance will be down just watch…

  2. 9inchnails

    January 1, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Ok Matt, you win. Peter Angelos is a good guy. He saved the Orioles from moving to D.C. Duquette should be bringing better guys in, MacPhail should have done a better job with the $$$ given to them by Angelos. Showalter should be doing a better job with the talent he has, after all, good coaches coax the talent out of the players.

    Okay, now that’s out of the way, the window is open now and I agree with you on that. However, that window closes at the end of every season. The Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers field teams to win NOW. We need to stop worrying about the window. Put a playoff team on the field every year, that gives us a chance to win every year. Just look at the Ravens last year, they were not the best team, yet they won it all. The Orioles are not fielding a team that can make the playoff. They went into the off season with holes. How many holes have been filled to date? I thought I looked through rose colored glasses but you have me beat.

    Again, and you keep moving around this subject, 15 years ago the window was open, 10 years ago, the window was open, 2 years ago the window was WIDE open and yet the Orioles did not do anything to win a WS. Tell me what they did since 1997 to win it all? That is your assignment, if you choose to accept it, Mr Sroka!

    BTW, still looking forward to my free lunch in Atlanta!

  3. Matt Sroka

    January 1, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Ravens2488 and 9inchnails,
    First off let me say a happy New Years to you both. I’ve sincerely enjoyed the ‘discussions’ we’ve had the past year, and I’m sure this year will be full of my optimism and full of your pessimism. I also look forward to be proven right in all my opinions.

    Peter Angelos has been trying to win a World Series since he got here. He has not been successful due to stinginess and incompetence, but you don’t think that Angelos wants to win? I thought MacPhail had a good plan with his “grow the arms, buy the bats” campaign. Unfortunately he pinned his hopes on Matusz, Arrietta, Britton all of whom did not work out. It did not work out for a variety of reasons like bad luck, poor development, and probably poor decision making, but it wasn’t because the Orioles didn’t want to win.

    I agree that it makes me nervous to pin such hopes on the development of young pitchers giving the Orioles past history, but I’m optimistic (maybe foolishly so) that it will be different with Bundy and Gausman. I also agree that I would love to see the Orioles sign another starting pitcher or a DH, but get out of here with this nonsense that they don’t want to win. It’s more complicated than that, and you boys are oversimplifying things.

    • 9inchnails

      January 1, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      Hey Matt,

      Sure Angelos wants to win, everyone does, well maybe not the Cleveland Cavaliers but everyone wants to win. No argument there. I don’t believe I ever said that. He wants to win, just as cheaply as possible while lining his pockets with OUR money. You cannot say McPhail’s plan failed. If his plan failed, then he failed as a GM. “All of whom did not work out”, is even a bigger failure. You are also absolutely correct in that poor development, poor decision making and some bad luck has added to the O’s woes. To correct that though, you have to get people in the to do the right thing, ala Pat Gillick. You also have to roll the dice every now and then on a free agent or two. Or even sign a guy who had surgery 8 yrs ago. Take a chance, that’s all. Unlike 2488, I like the future with Gausman and Bundy, just add some pieces now to compliment what we have already and mesh that into the future and we can be talking playoofs for years to come, with a WS title or two in between…

      You can ask anyone in this forum that knows me, Spy, Jim from Dundalk, Mystery Man and Chow, I say every year, we are going to win 162 games and the WS. I love the Orioles through thick or thin, just want the same commitment from the Orioles, is that wrong to ask?

      BTW, Happy New Year to you and the BSR!

  4. Ravens2488

    January 1, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Matt, Happy New Year and I hope you know that I’m not being harsh when I call you an Orioles Apologist. I do believe you are one but it’s all part of the argument and I mean no harm by it. That’s why the BSR is here. I’m harsh when I go into “assclown” mode and call people that. However you and I and others have good opinions. We may not agree with the others opinion but we are all entitled to one.

    But like I said, you talk about in 3-4 years when Bundy and Gausman are up to speed you figure that is the Orioles time. You need to take into consideration that in 3-4 years Markakis may be gone as well as Davis, Weiters, Hardy, etc. The Orioles are the top team when it comes to signing Rule 5 guys or the dreaded Designated For Assignment clowns. The Orioles are also noted as the top team that will not buy “Type B” players or even “Type C” players.

    This team had a nice window to get this team far into the playoffs. All they needed were a couple “Type B” players to get them there. But they would not open the checkbook. That window is almost about shut. Going into this season with the same pitching staff minus a closer, the joke of a player in Reimold in left field. Which that is another joke. Why do they insist on putting this clown out there? There have been a number of outfielders that were traded this year that would have looked great in left field yet the Orioles would not pull the trigger.

    I’m sorry, but this team is now going south when they were close to the top of the mountain. You cannot tell me it’s not about money. You can see it is in every move that is made.

    BTW, 9inchnails does say the O’s will go 162-0 every year and as well 9inchnails also thinks it’s a badge of honor going around bragging that he got a discount from the hooker on Patapsco Avenue because she didn’t have any teeth.

  5. Matt Sroka

    January 2, 2014 at 12:11 am

    First off, my apologies for 9inchnails putting in the same category as Ravens2488.

    Secondly, I just can’t agree that the Orioles are going south. The Orioles are trying to win now, within a budget, while also keeping in mind the future (like resigning Wieters and/or Davis). I would like and do think the Orioles should add more “Type B” free agents, but the Orioles currently have a core of young “Type A” players. I’m okay with Lough/Pearce/Reimold in left field. The Orioles don’t need all stars at every position. Yes, they could use another hitter and yes (probably more importantly) they could use another starting pitcher, but I feel Oriole fans are underestimating the talent that is currently on the Orioles roster. Now maybe this makes me an Orioles apologist, but I confess part of my defense of the Orioles comes from the hatred and pessimism I see across birdland. (Also I think just using the term “birdland” in a sentence is further evidence that I’m an Oriole apologist!) We are not gonna finish 162-0 (sorry 9inchnails) but at the same time we are not a bad team that is going nowhere. We have strong core of players and a solid group of young arms in the minors. There is reason for hope both now and into the future.

  6. Ravens2488

    January 2, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Whoa Matt… What’s wrong with putting 9incher in my category? We are both good looking heterosexuals… One Chocolate Thunder, the other White Lightning…

  7. Anvil

    January 2, 2014 at 8:20 am

    2488,
    You misspelled homosexual above.