As many of you readers surely know, I have been patient and hopeful for the Orioles this season, and I still believe that they have a solid nucleus for the future. Once Chris Tillman masters his cut fastball he will become a consistent starter, Brian Matusz is on his way to being a front-of-the-rotation guy, Jake Arrieta will settle in to a 3rd or 4th starter role, and Matt Wieters will get his swing figured out after a little more time. I still believe in these very young players over the long haul. However, I am left a little more than stunned at the organization that seems paralyzed to make any moves, however small, to improve this club for the long term. I understand that patience is important- it has kept my fandom alive for the past 13 seasons- but patience is dangerous when it means passing up the best opportunities simply for the sake of prudence.
Take the managerial search for example. Buck Showalter has long been considered the guy for this position. He built the Diamondbacks from an expansion team to a contender, turned around a moribund Rangers team, and he helped bring the Yankees back to a championship caliber team. Sure, he wants some personnel control and a 4 year deal, so what? He is a marquee name who wants the O’s job. Sign the man up. I understand Andy MacPhail waiting to make up his mind, but is there anything else he is waiting for? If there are other or better names out there to interview, then interview them, but we have heard nothing about him making additional moves. If this is concern about taking the reins from Juan Samuel because he is on a hot streak, the Rays and Twins took care of that. I have yet to see the logic in not making Showalter the manager, particularly as we learn more about the Cubs’ job opening up in addition to the Braves job and possibly the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Brewers, and others coming available. Do the Orioles really want to have to compete against that? They can’t.
It is a bit more sensible why players like Tejada and Wiggington aren’t drawing much interest- they aren’t great players and they are both set for free agency. With great starting pitchers available through a trade, I understand that teams aren’t really in the market for aging third basemen and marginal utility players who earn All Star berths due to the AL manager needing some defensive help. All that said, the magic that MacPhail worked in netting young talent for aging veterans appears to be lacking this season, as the Orioles meander through the season with no moves more significant than adding a Jake Fox while cutting Garrett Atkins. If and when Tejada and Wiggington head to other teams, Baltimore won’t be getting Type A returns for them, so there is little sense in not trading them while the opportunity is there. The roster might not react well to two of their model players being dumped at the deadline, but they have to understand that the team isn’t going anywhere. I would say that it could hurt the team down the stretch, but I wonder whether the Orioles couldn’t easily replicate their production internally. These might wind up being August waiver trades, but something should be done.
Which I guess is the only reason anyone is still following the Orioles. Something should be done. Andy MacPhail has had plenty of time to look at managerial candidates and his lack of recent interviews seems to indicate that nothing big is on the horizon. But there is room to improve this team, whether for today or for 2013. Management would be wise to listen to a fan base that wants to believe- and I believe the team is much better off than it was a few years ago- and will show up to Camden Yards if only given the slightest of reasons. Make a move- put an O’s cap on someone and smile at a press conference. If it is the only smiles Baltimore fans see between now and October, so be it. There are ways to make this team better, if only barely. It’s time to get some returns on 2010’s failed investment.