Given that tomorrow is New Year’s Eve it’s worth saying that this is probably the “Seinfeld” of columns about the Baltimore Orioles. It’s really about nothing in a sense. This time of year is usually fairly slow for all MLB teams given the winter holidays and the fact that it’s kind of smack in between then and now in a sense. The 2013 season is well in the rear view mirror, however 2014 isn’t really close to starting. However let’s also keep in mind that pitchers and catchers report two weeks after the Super Bowl…so putting it like that I suppose we aren’t that far off!
It appears that the Yankees are the odds-on favorites to land Masahiro Tanaka; surprise, surprise. My stance on this is as follows: Orioles’ fans shouldn’t waste too much time on Tanaka. And by that, I don’t mean that the owner won’t spend the money to pay for him. That’s a fact, however it’s also prudent. I’m not comfortable in a system where a team has to pay $20 million for the right to negotiate with a player. The flip side is that if you want the guy you have to work within the system and pay for him. I get that, however stop and think about how screwy of a set-up that is. Furthermore, Tanaka is unproven at the big league level; apparently many teams forget that in these situations.
they could possibly make a huge difference for a team like the Orioles who are expecting to be in contention again in 2014. However there are other names out there who could be intriguing. Former National and Phillie John Lannan is a free agent, as is Jason Marquis (another former Nat). Neither of them are front-of-the rotation guys, however they could provide some support for the staff. The same is true of someone like Barry Zito. All of this assumes that those players are able to regain their form of a few years ago, which is far from a given.
Many fans continue to have an intrigue in Nelson Cruz, who’s still on the free agent market. I think Cruz would certainly make a difference offensively for the Orioles, but that money would be better spent on starting pitching (either by trade or free agency). The Orioles’ problem in 2013 wasn’t producing runs, it was keeping them off the board for the opposition. Let’s not forget that this team led the league in home runs hit, as well as in home runs given up. So any amount of money that’s out there in limbo should be spent on pitching – in my view.
Ultimately time will tell what this team does. The Orioles will have a mini-camp of sorts in January at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, and they’ll hold their annual FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center on February 1st. Pitchers and catchers will report two weeks later, and the 2014 season will “unofficially” be upon us.