Are Orioles showing an ace with Guthrie?

Roy Halladay throws a no-hitter last night and I saw exactly four pitches - all of them from Cincinnati's Edinson Volquez in the second inning.

I have regrets.

Not every team is blessed with a true No. 1 starter. Go over all the rosters and pick out the pitchers who actually fit the description, and not simply because somebody had to take the ball on Opening Day (Rodrigo Lopez did it in Baltimore and nobody's calling him an ace.)

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The Phillies happen to own three of them, but that's an embarrassment of riches. Their faces should be as red as their caps.

Do the Orioles have a true No. 1 on their roster?

I'm trying to figure out whether they're listing a top-of-the-rotation veteran as a priority during the offseason. They acquired Kevin Millwood at the winter meetings to eat up innings and tutor the young guns, but he won only four games and posted a 5.10 ERA.

Asked during the final week of the season about the need for another veteran to head the rotation, manager Buck Showalter grinned and mumbled Jeremy Guthrie's name. I revisited the topic earlier this week, before Showalter flew back to Houston.

Could Guthrie, who posted a 2.76 ERA in 14 starts after the break and totaled 409 1/3 innings over the past two seasons, be the top-of-the-rotation guy in 2011?

"Well, he was this year," Showalter replied.

"I don't number them No. 1, No. 2, No. 3. Your No. 1 starter is whoever's pitching that night. Andy (MacPhail) and I have talked about it. We're on the same page with things, but I have not yet gone, 'I've got to have this and I've got to have that and I've got to have this.' We'll shake it out and see where it lies. You prioritize things as the offseason goes on a little bit."

Sounds like the rotation stays on the back burner until the Orioles address the corner infield spots and make a strong push to acquire a bat for the middle of the order.

"You've got it wired - first and third," Showalter said.

Yeah, I'm becoming more perceptive as I get older.

"And if you're going to have young starters in your rotation, one way you can really get better is to make sure your bullpen is strong," he added. "All these things everybody's aware of, but do you go out there and get ahead of yourself? You've got to know who you are and know what you're doing."

It's not like the free-agent class is causing team executives to drool all over the front of their shirts. Here's another look at the list of starting pitchers:

Bronson Arroyo (34) - club option
Erik Bedard (32) - mutual option
Jeremy Bonderman (28)
Dave Bush (31)
Bruce Chen (34)
Kevin Correia (30)
Doug Davis (35) - mutual option
Jorge De La Rosa (30)
Justin Duchscherer (33)
Jeff Francis (29) - club option
Freddy Garcia (35)
Jon Garland (31) - mutual option
Rich Harden (29) - mutual option
Aaron Harang (33) - club option
Hiroki Kuroda (36)
Cliff Lee (32)
Ted Lilly (35)
Braden Looper (36)
Pedro Martinez (39)
Rodrigo Lopez (35)
Kevin Millwood (36)
Sergio Mitre (30)
Brian Moehler (39)
Jamie Moyer (48)
Vicente Padilla (33)
Carl Pavano (35)
Brad Penny (33)
Andy Pettitte (39)
Nate Robertson (33)
Jeff Suppan (36)
Hisanori Takahashi (36)
Javier Vazquez (34)
Jarrod Washburn (36)
Brandon Webb (32)
Todd Wellemeyer (32)
Jake Westbrook (33)
Dontrelle Willis (29)
Chris Young (32)

Going back to the infield, it's become apparent that the Orioles want Josh Bell to collect more at-bats at Triple-A Norfolk next season rather than have him compete for the starting job at third base. He's not in the equation right now. Doesn't mean they're close to making a final judgment on him, but he needs more time in the minors.

Cut down on the strikeouts and the sweets. He's not in terrible shape, but it wouldn't hurt to spend a little time in the gym and consult with a nutritionist.

Food for thought.

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