Buy/Sell/HoldDave Cameron of Fangraphs wrote a piece yesterday breaking down every MLB as either potential buyers, sellers or holders at this year's trade deadline. He broke down the buyers into two groups: 'likely buyers' and 'buyers' so separate out those firmly entrenched in picking up talent from those who might buy, but might not.
Cameron listed the Orioles as 'likely holders' at the deadline suggesting that despite playing over their heads to this point, they could hope to hold on to veterans with the outside shot at a second wild card spot. Cameron suggests that teams like the Orioles, Mets or Pirates could benefit greatly from a rare playoff appearance with a 're-energized fanbase'.
Are The O's Buyers?
Many fans certainly want the O's to be buyers at the deadline. Over the past month or so fans have been clamoring for the home team to go look for a third baseman, starting pitch depth, even an ace to anchor our rotation. Apparently Dan Duquette said some thing along the lines of, "If we're in it in July we'll be in it to win it. We're out right now taking stock of our minor league system to see what we have to offer teams" prior to the game on Friday June, 8th. Does this mean the O's are looking to trade? Who can we get? Is Garza up for trade? These, and hundreds of other questions undoubtedly start surfacing looking for ways to push the Orioles into contention.
I don't know what Dan Duquette and the baseball operations team in the warehouse are thinking with regards to trade targets. If you want an answer for that, try calling up the executive offices and ask the operator to speak to Dan himself.
What I can tell you is what I would do if I were GM - what I think the Orioles should do.
What We Should Do
Recent success in MLB is predicated on developing and bringing up a stream of talented young players that can fill in holes left by veterans. We're not talking about the Yankees here, the Orioles are not the Yankees and likely never will be. What the Orioles can be is a middle ground between the Rays and Red Sox. The model used by Tampa, Texas and Boston to a lesser degree has proven to be successful time and time again.
What exactly is that model you ask? Fill the farm system with talent, build up a strong core on your roster, and then add pieces to fill in holes as necessary. This does not require, nor does it preclude you from making splashy free agent signings. A perfect example is Texas, the best team in baseball the past 2 seasons despite missing out on winning rings. Texas built up a core of Hamilton, Andrus, Kinsler, Young, Cruz etc by acquiring talent and letting it develop. Then, when the team was ready to compete they went out and brought in Adrian Beltre to hold down 3B.
The Orioles are starting down this path with promising young players surrounding established young veterans like Wieters and Jones. The future of Machado, Schoop and Bundy gives the Orioles a core to build around and add to. This should be the basis of the team going forward.
So Let's Trade For Our Core!
Not so fast. Trading, especially in a seller's market, will be expensive as Cameron points out. It will take 2 or 3 top prospects to get a guy like Matt Garza. Sure, maybe acquiring a guy like him puts us in the playoffs this season, but we won't have guys to call up a year or two from now to add on to our roster. We'd be trading in long-term sustainable success for one potential playoff appearance.
I know Oriole fans have been waiting way too long for a playoff run. I know that being patient is hard and knowing we could have made the playoffs if we just made one move is worse. The fact of the matter is that baseball is getting younger, and the Orioles can't afford to be short-sighted and accept another long stretch of losing for one shot at the postseason.
It's been a long and arduous journey as an Oriole fan, but there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Rather than sprinting to the light and having to stop just outside the exit of the tunnel let's pace ourselves so we can keep running once we break through.