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Baltimore Orioles: Go for the gold?

Yes, I’m asking the question that’s been crossing the minds of Baltimore Orioles fans a lot lately. You know, the question that everyone and their brother is thinking about, but the one that nobody wants to ask for fear of a “high jinx.” That aside, the question at hand is whether or not this is the year…you know what I mean. First off, five years ago asking if it was the year probably would have been asking if the O’s might break .500. How quickly things change.

To speak to the question, I can’t tell you if this is the year. We won’t know that until the Baltimore Orioles’ season is over – whenever that is. But needless to say we’d be remiss of we didn’t take note of how things seem to be shaping up well for the Orioles. And I’m not even talking about the Orioles’ season; I’m also talking about the things that have happened around them. It seems that a lot of other contenders are having issues such as injuries right now, including Toronto, New York, and the LA Dodgers. Obviously the one team that’s given the Orioles problems this year has been Oakland, and they seem to be just as healthy.

However each time the Orioles have had a stretch of games whereby the “experts” figured their backs would get broken, they’ve seemingly answered the call. Granted once again that they struggled in Oakland; however they took care of business with Anaheim and Seattle twice, and have now handled Toronto and St. Louis. I would submit that St. Louis might be the best team in the National League, yet they’ve looked like mince meat in the hands of the Baltimore Orioles.

Again, I can’t say whether or not this is the year for the Orioles. But I will say that I think they have a smaller window than most teams in their position. The likes of Wieters, Davis, and others are only under team control for one more season. Obviously the O’s will have an opportunity to re-sign all of those players, however I think everyone knows that’s going to be tough. To shrink the window even more, Nelson Cruz is a free agent after this season – so…is the window truly this year or bust?

Again, it’s really difficult to gauge how true that might or might not be. We also don’t know what the Orioles’ or Cruz’s plans are after the season. They might have a barrel of money earmarked to keep Cruz long term for all I know. But the point here is that there is some uncertainty that surrounds this team after 2014, and potentially even more after 2015.  So if in fact the window is that small, this is a season that they should take advantage of. As I said, the cards seem to be lining up in their favor in a sense – at least to this point.

And this is not to say that anything short of a World Series title would be a failure for this franchise. At this point I think they’re far enough along to where if they somehow missed the post season that would be a failure, but for instance losing in the ALCS in my view would not be shameful or a failure. However one might submit that if they don’t win a title in the current window it might take some time to get back to this level. This is not to say that they’d go back to winning 70 games a year, but they might have to build their way back up just a bit.

So with all of this said, is there anything left that the Orioles can do to try to get towards that goal? August can often be as busy as July when it comes to trades; players traded in August of course must first pass through waivers. (Trades after August 31st are even allowed, however any player traded after that date is ineligible to be on a post season roster.) Granted the Orioles’ pitching has been about as clutch as could be of late, however it might not kill them to add another starter to the mix. Might they be able to work a deal with San Diego for Ian Kennedy? In that vain, it’s also worth mentioning that Miguel Gonzalez will return to the Orioles after his demotion yesterday on September 1st at the latest when roster expand.

So the question is whether or not this is the year – what do I think? Do I personally believe that we’ll see a parade on Pratt Street this autumn? It’s still too early to tell – far too early at that. But keep in mind that there are a lot of “good” teams out there, but starting in the middle of August is when the few “great” teams start to pull away. In a sense, the cream always rises to the top. And the Orioles have done nothing that would tell us that they aren’t in that category of “great.”

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