The Orioles are currently 12-14, 5 games out in their division and 2.5 games out for the wild card. With the Yankees floundering a bit, they can at least allow themselves to dream about a playoff spot. It’s time to start pondering possible improvements to push the club to the next level.
What they really need is a power bat; the Orioles are 11th in the league with a .392 SLG. However, management may view starting pitching as a more pressing concern. The starters collectively have a 4.72 ERA (10th in the league), and Jaret Wright is out indefinitely with shoulder concerns. Not that Wright would be helping that 4.72 mark if he was out there.
The O’s can take solace in Erik Bedard’s strong peripherals as well as indications (before last night) that Daniel Cabrera had turned a corner with his control. But Steve Trachsel (0.79 K/BB) and Adam Loewen (0.75 K/BB) are precariously perched atop decent ERAs not built to last. Loewen at least can blame his abnormally strong opposition, but Trax is a long shot to keep pitching well.
Hayden Penn is undergoing surgery, leaving Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Burres as possible replacements for Wright. Guthrie, a former first rounder, is a nice gamble under Leo Mazzone. Still, PECOTA doesn’t see he or Burres coming in under a 5.00 ERA this year. Jeff Zrebiec mentions past trade discussions about Josh Fogg and Byung-Hyun Kim, options that are none too inspiring.
The Orioles often spin their wheels and tread water, but the Yanks’ struggles could present an opportunity to bring respectability back to the franchise. To do so, they need to acquire an ace starter. We’re probably at least a month off from such a possibility, and I doubt the Indians end up trading C.C. Sabathia as speculated here. Carlos Zambrano could be that available ace, if the O’s would send Loewen to the Cubs. Dontrelle Willis and Brad Penny are a couple of other names the Orioles could consider to bolster their rotation. Baltimore certainly has a few young arms the Marlins would covet.