For the Orioles, improving starting pitching could be a challenge

The Orioles are facing a dilemma.

They need to improve their starting pitching to get back to the playoffs. But the pitchers who seem likely to get long-term deals this winter don't look worth signing even if the O's would consider that avenue. And the pitchers on the other end of the free agent class may not even be upgrades on what is already in the rotation.

Is it possible that a club that needs to improve its starting pitching won't be able to add a single pitcher that can truly help them do so?

Are the Orioles between a rock and a hard place here?

It could be the Orioles' best options to get better pitching is by getting better performance from those already with the team. But if they go that route, how will that play with the fans?

At the same time, does making a move, even if it may not be an upgrade, show the fans the team is trying to get better?

My take is that signing a player to a one or two-year deal - Tim Hudson, Bartolo Colon and Dan Haren are just three that come to mind - could be an upgrade and is worth looking at.

Almost any pitcher the team can get on a short-term deal is going to come with some issues or question marks and be somewhat of a risk. But short of spending $60 to $80 million or more on Ervin Santana and Matt Garza, it might be the club's most realistic move.

The Orioles will certainly look at re-signing Scott Feldman. If that happens, will having Feldman and Bud Norris for full seasons help? Will Kevin Gausman be in the rotation for all of 2014 and ready to take the next step? Will Wei-Yin Chen pitch better next year? Will someone like Steve Johnson or Zach Britton, who is now out of options, be a surprise rotation piece?

Can new pitching coach Dave Wallace make the difference?

If you have read the comments on this blog the last week or so, you can already see some fan frustration, even before the hot stove season truly heats up. Signing a pitcher that is not among the top group of this free agent class would be met with skepticism by some fans.

But if we take a real hard look at the current pitching market, would that be a bad move?

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