Saturday, October 13, 2012

Orioles 2012: Top of the 10th

Photo via Baltimore Sports Then and Now

What an amazing run it was!  Sure, it's sad that the 2012 season is over for the Orioles.  But this team gave so much more than could reasonably have been expected way back in March.  They played a marvelous division series, too.  They were ultimately undone by three players: C.C. Sabathia, Raul Ibanez and the postseason king himself, Derek Jeter, who, even hobbling on a wounded ankle, managed to make the key hits when it mattered most.  For our side, the two players who performed most admirably against the Yankees were aimless minor league wanderers just months ago: left fielder Nate McLouth and pitcher Miguel Gonzalez.  Game 3, the one Ibanez ruined, is a strong early candidate for game of the year.

So, what's next for Baltimore?  The chemistry of the current team certainly seems worth preserving.  While it was the bullpen who kept the team afloat all season, it was the starters who shined in the playoffs.  The Birds' young guns will be a year older and a year better come April.  If the starters can pitch deeper into ball games, that would be nice.  But I don't think the team needs to be looking to upgrade just yet - season and let sit.

Offensively, it might be worth looking for a few upgrades on the free agent market.  Baltimore's on-base percentage for the playoffs ranked dead last.  Granted, the Yanks didn't do much better - but just enough.  Maybe the team will make a bid in the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes but big picture, they might do better to go after a few of the lesser lights.  I think outfielders Nick Swisher and Ichiro Suzuki - both members of the O's recent conquerors - would be excellent targets.

The Orioles, Nationals and A's are all out of the running.  As such, my bold proposal survives another season.  The good news is that in 2013, at least according to my theory, all three teams will have a better chance of winning it all.  So, just as Cubs fans have been saying since 1908, just wait until next year.

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