I do understand that some fans are disappointed that the Orioles didn’t do more at the Winter Meetings. Every year, it seems there is a segment of the fan base that gets very, very excited about those few days and if major moves are not made, they get very unhappy about it. I think sometimes some fans just want action, any kind of action.
Don’t think some of the media don’t want that, too. It was more exciting to be at the Winter Meetings two years ago in Orlando when the O’s acquired J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds in trades. But the media also understands that it doesn’t always happen that way and it’s not a race to make moves. Opening day is still about four months away.
I keep hearing that some of you feel the O’s are trying again next year to catch lightning in a bottle. We all know some of the things that happened last year, like the club going 29-9 in one-run games, are unlikely to happen again.
But some of that could be offset by other developments among players already here. In 2012, the quartet of Nolan Reimold, Nick Markakis, Nate McLouth and Manny Machado played in just 226 games. That foursome could combine to play in 600 games next season. Jason Hammel could go from 20 starts to 33. Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman, who combined for 30 starts last year, could double that. Hardy may hit better than .238. Matt Wieters may hit better than .249. You get my point by now, I hope.
That is not looking to catch lightning in a bottle. That is asking good players to be good again and asking some of them to be healthier.
I think when it comes to our blog message boards, there are just some of you that want to see the glass half full all the time. We haven’t been so far removed from a great season yet that I’ve forgotten how well the Orioles played last year and how Baltimore showed its love for baseball again in a big way.
A clear message came through over the last few days. Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter really like their team - the one they currently have. You know they will continue to seek improvements and upgrade and that they have plenty of time to do that. I still expect a trade to acquire a hitter.
But those two spoke highly of the players they already have in Nashville. It wasn’t public relations spin. It was sincere confidence in the team they have assembled and the team that ended last year.
After their loss July 17 at Minnesota last summer, which dropped their record to 46-44, the O’s went 47-25. From Aug. 1 through the end of the regular season, the Orioles had the best winning percentage in baseball at .655, going 38-20. The team ERA the last two months of 2012 was 3.45, a figure that would be second best in the AL over a full season.
I think if we put it to a vote and asked you if you feel the 2013 Orioles can win 90 or more games and contend again right now, most of you would vote yes to that. But, as usual, the dissenters, whatever their numbers, have a voice, too.
As we sit here today, on Dec. 7, I see the Orioles as a good team and last year was not some fluky, once-in-a-lifetime season. I’m also OK with the fact that many don’t agree with that.