Here’s a look at Baltimore’s current setup for 2008.
C – Ramon Hernandez
1B – Kevin Millar
2B – Brian Roberts
SS – Miguel Tejada
3B – Melvin Mora
LF – Jay Gibbons
CF – Jay Payton
RF – Nick Markakis
DH – Aubrey Huff
SP – Erik Bedard
SP – Jeremy Guthrie
SP – Daniel Cabrera
SP – Adam Loewen
SP – Brian Burres/Garrett Olson/Hayden Penn
Setup/Closer: Jamie Walker/Chad Bradford
Take a look at that starting lineup again. The Orioles are a train wreck, and need to be blown to smithereens and rebuilt. Their need is pretty easy to assess – they need cheap, young, talented players. Sure, all teams need those, but the O’s need to abandon any pretense of winning in 2008.
The ’07 Orioles were below average in every regard. The long-term Orioles need corner infielders, a left fielder, and a center fielder at minimum. If you don’t think they can win in by 2009, then they need middle infielders too.
The O’s need another reliable starter to complement the Bedard-Guthrie tandem. They need to be patient with Cabrera, who at least set a career high in innings and starts. They need some homegrown or otherwise cheap relievers with a pulse.
Most of all, the Orioles need fiscal responsibility. Hopefully Andy MacPhail will bring it.
The Orioles have frontline talent in Tejada, Bedard, Roberts, Markakis, and Matt Wieters. The last two are cornerstones.
Tejada is not a part of the long-term future. Despite signs of decline, he can still be dealt for a nice bevy of young players. Maybe not a Teixeira-sized bounty, but two quality players. The Tigers, Phillies, Red Sox, White Sox, Blue Jays, Angels, and half of the NL Central ought to be interested. Tejada is the team’s most tradeable asset and he absolutely must be cashed in this winter.
The O’s are at a crossroads with Bedard and Roberts. They’re locked in through 2009, and would have a lot of value on the trade market. The Orioles have to at least listen on these guys. Bedard is going to cost a king’s ransom to sign long-term, and Roberts may prefer to leave for a winner.
Then there’s the veteran riff-raff. The Orioles have tons of expendable veterans with moderate to questionable trade value: Hernandez, Millar, Mora, Gibbons, Payton, Huff, Walker, and Bradford. Gibbons and Mora are un-tradeable, but the rest should be swapped out for the most interesting 0-3 players available. The Orioles must remain open to eating salary if they can in effect purchase some quality prospects.