Neal Shaffer: No need for debate, O’s should be buyers

Every year, as the trade deadline approaches, fans who are fortunate enough to find their team in contention get the luxury of engaging in a fun debate: Should our team be buyers?

Should they, in other words, make a play for one or more guys who might take a group from pretty good to very good, possibly playoff
good? Or should they stick with what they have and hope it’s enough?

As Orioles fans, we typically sit this out and instead engage in some deadline variation of “sell or do nothing?” It’s usually not much fun, and it involves a lot of hoping that a desperate team will overpay in the form of legit prospects for someone we don’t really need or want.

This year, however - assuming the O’s don’t fold - we’ll be right in the thick of it. Dan Duquette has a real decision to make.

Except it’s not really a decision at all. If the Orioles are still in the mix come July, they should absolutely be buyers.

The future has been promised for a long time. Mostly out of necessity, but partly because the idea is that when you’re losing you’re building and someday it will pay off. When it finally starts to, you know, actually pay off, that is not the time to continue saying, “Next year.” That’s the time to say, “Let’s see how far we can take this.”

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that buy means mortgage the future on a two-month run. That’d be just as stupid as standing still.
Rather, what I’m suggesting is that if the Orioles appear close enough to the playoffs that adding an arm or a bat might put them over the top, then they have to seriously explore the opportunity.

Exploring the opportunity means exploring the idea of giving up real value. It might mean handing over a legit prospect or two, or it might mean entertaining offers on names like (gasp!) Nick Markakis or Brian Roberts or Jake Arrieta or Jim Johnson.

Risky? Of course. And some players must remain untouchable (Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado for example). But Duquette should be - is practically obligated to be - at least moderately aggressive.

We don’t know how long this good fortune is going to last. We don’t know what’s going to happen next year. They could easily finish 10 games above .500 this year then turn around in 2013 and regress to five games below. If this group is still strong in July, that will represent a chance that’s been a long time coming. As a fan who’s suffered through every bit of the losing, I don’t want to see it go to waste.

Neal Shaffer regularly blogs about the Orioles at The Loss Column, and his work appears here as part of’s initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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