As you’ve all probably seen by now, our neighbors to the north are doing some serious stockpiling of talent. No, not the Yankees or the Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays. Last week, they pulled off a blockbuster deal with the Miami Marlins (sidebar: Miami, really, another firesale? Are you guys ever satisfied?) and acquired Jose Reyes & Josh Johnson, among others. Then, word got out they signed Melky Cabrera, the almost-MVP until getting caught with PEDs in his system ended his season, to a two year, $16 million dollar contract. That’s a LOT of power headed north of the border, and a lot of power suddenly in the already crowded AL East for our Baltimore Orioles to deal with.
We’ve been contemplating on the site since the season ended the angles the team needs to explore to improve. With Mark Reynolds, JJ Hardy, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis(until he got hurt) a huge percentage of the team’s overall run production came from the long ball. As fun as that is to watch, hitting bombs and having a great bullpen does not a second winning season in 15 years make.
What did the Blue Jays get & how can we get it, too?
Legitimate Slugger: Melky Cabrera
#1 Pitcher: Josh Johnson
Shortstop 2nd baseman: someone like Jose Reyes
Ironically, it seems to be in these 3 areas where the O’s could benefit the most.
The rotation needs a consistent #1, preferably with playoff experience. Josh Johnson may not have the playoff experience, but the Jays also picked up Mark Buehrle, who won a World Series with the Chi Sox in ’05 & gives them a proven veteran with playoff starts. Someone like Dan Haren, who has playoff experience and is only 32, would provide some stability at the top of the rotation. Ironically, Joe Saunders & Dan Haren were actually traded for each other in the deal that sent Saunders to the Diamondbacks & Haren to the Angels. Kyle Losche would also be a strong idea for the #1 spot; he’s older than Haren (34) but having played for St. Louis for the past 4 seasons, he has a wealth of playoff experience and seems to be getting better with age.
No bones about it, Melky Cabrera can hit. The Jays were smart in signing him to a short term deal, they’re technically only committed for 2 years, and if it looks like Melky’s power has started to drop off as of 2015, they can cut him loose. Someone like Melky in the middle of the lineup would take the pressure off Jones, Wieters, and Reynolds (if he’s resigned) and maybe cut down on the strikeouts? Another idea might be to get someone to complement Jones, Wieters & Reynolds (?) like a Cody Ross. He can play both sides of the outfield as well as hit for power. Michael Bourn of the Braves should also be in the conversation, young and powerful, he would fit in well on either side of Adam Jones in the OF.
Someone like Reyes would provide a spark at the top of order, and coupled with Nick Markakis, who had a bit of a career resurgence batting leadoff before his injury, could be the pair needed for the middle of the lineup guys to drive in more runs. Maybe keep Nick at the top of the order & get a Kelly Johnson to play 2nd base, keeping JJ at SS and in the #2 hole in the lineup. He’s not a sexy pick, but the free-agent class of 2nd basemen isn’t sexy either, so it will be up to the keen eye of Dan Duquette (2nd sidebar: how on Earth did he not get any consideration for MLB Executive of the Year? Color me confused…) to find someone who fits well in the lineup.
For the 2013 Orioles to be more successful than the 2012 team, the checkbook is going to need to be opened & money will need to be spent. The Blue Jays, who haven’t made the playoffs in almost as long as the Orioles had, have certainly opened their checkbooks this off-season. Whether it will be a success or it will go the way of the Miami Marlins 2012 season remains to be seen.