What is the next move for the Orioles?

Happy new year, everyone. I hope 2013 is a wonderful year that makes you happy and finds you healthy. Let’s hope it can be as exciting on the field for the Orioles as last year was.

So as a new year begins, we revisit an older, lingering question. What is the next move for the Orioles?

Dan Duquette has stated that he wants to add a middle-of-the-order bat and hasn’t done so yet. He didn’t say he would do it quickly, just that he wanted to do it.

My guess is the Orioles do add a hitter at some point. My sense - some might call it a fear - is that it won’t be a major impact player and the move will be second-guessed by the fans. But that happens a lot, so we’ll just see where all this takes us over the next few days and weeks.

FanFest is now just a couple of weeks away. Will the O’s add a hitter by then?

MLBTradeRumors.com lists seven remaining free agents on its list of the top 50 that were available at the start of free agency.

They are No. 3 Micheal Bourn, No. 10 Kyle Lohse, No. 15 Adam LaRoche, No. 17 Rafael Soriano, No. 19 Shawn Marcum, No. 25 Joe Saunders and No. 44 Jose Valverde.

The Orioles still have interest in Saunders, who pitched to an ERA of 1.59 in huge playoff wins over Texas and the Yankees.

You don’t hear much about Marcum, but he is 57-36 with an ERA of 3.76 in his career and pitched well in the AL East for Toronto. Some feel elbow surgery from 2010 has taken a few ticks off his fastball, but he did have his best strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate last season, even though it was in just 120 innings.

Even though many seem to feel getting a hitter is the bigger priority right now, I am from that camp that says you never have enough pitching so pursuing Saunders, Marcum or both works for me.

Plus, adding to a suspected surplus of starting pitching just makes it easier to part with pitching for hitting via a trade. Who could the O’s pursue here? The Billy Butler talk never seemed to have much traction. Is Michael Morse a good target for the O’s? Could or should the Orioles offer LaRoche the three-year deal he seeks and see if they could pull an upset and land him?

When it comes to trades, we just don’t know which players are truly available and oftentimes it seems players get dealt and they were never even rumored to be on the block.

What is your take?: What should the Orioles next move be? How good is the team right now? How would you feel if they don’t make a significant addition between now and opening day?

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