We’ve spent a lot of time discussing what the Baltimore Orioles have and have not done thus far this off season here on the Orioles’ official Fansided Network site. Lots of fans have their opinions of what needs to be done, should have been done, etc. In effect, there’s not one free agent out there that shouldn’t have been landed by Duquette and company in the eyes of many people. However it’s also worth looking at what the Orioles’ chief competition has done thus far. Ultimately the O’s will play approximately half of their schedule against the AL East; so how are those teams shaping up?
Most people will point to Jacoby Ellsbury heading to New York this off season. First off, how could the Orioles have not stepped up to try to get Ellsbury?! That answer is simple; last I checked, the O’s didn’t need a centerfielder. (Just thought I’d throw that in for the record.) Granted Ellsbury is a great defensive centerfielder and he posted an OBP of .355 in 2013, he only slugged 9 homers in 2013. But what’s not seen is the fact that Boston lost Ellsbury. So there’s a
major piece of Boston’s world series team that’s now gone.
Incidentally, Ellsbury is replacing Curtis Granderson, who went to the cross-town Mets. Granderson was injured in 2013 and only played in 61 games; however in 2012 he hit 43 home runs and drove in 106 RBI. That’s about what he’s capable of in a season, and he’s now playing in Queens. So you can look at that as a net loss for Boston, and a net loss for New York. Kind of interesting if you think about it.
Sicking with Boston for a moment, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia also signed with the Miami Marlins last month. In “Salty” you had a power-hitting catcher with a .273 average and an OBP of .338. Again, that’s a net loss for Boston. Obviously we also don’t know what will happen with Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees either. There’s no question that he gave them a shot in the arm (see what I did there?!) when he returned to the team in August. However presumably he won’t be allowed to do that in 2014. However if by some technicality he’s allowed to play, will the distraction be too much?
Perhaps not as celebrated as Ellsbury, Granderson, and Saltalamacchia, Toronto also lost a piece of their team. Rajai Davis has already signed with Detroit; while he only hit .136 against the Orioles, it seems the times he did deliver were always in huge spots in games. There have also been a few muted rumors about the Seattle Mariners having an interest in trading for Jose Bautista, which would remove another weapon from the arsenal of an AL East team. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but it would certainly help the Orioles.
Nothing is a given here; Boston might find the next incarnation of Johnny Bench to replace Saltalamacchia, and perhaps the next Ken Griffey Jr. to replace Ellsbury. But on paper those are some major hits to some of the Orioles’ division rivals. And my thanks goes out to a very astute reader who pointed out that I forgot the obvious: Robbie Cano, where’d ya go?! The Yankees are losing a lot in Robinson Cano as he heads to Seattle. Could any of this represent an opening for the O’s? I guess we’ll find out!