LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - When Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette talks these days Orioles fans listen, but then they seem to voice skepticism about what he said.
Right now they are questioning the Jim Johnson trade, the payroll, the starting pitching and more.
Several fans had a negative reaction via my Twitter account to one comment Duquette made last night when he said, "We've got a much stronger base to our pitching staff now than we've had the last couple of years."
Fans can probably just about recite the stats which saw the Orioles team ERA drop from 6th in the American League in 2012 to 10th last season. They saw the starters ERA fall to 12th in the AL at 4.57.
How can the man say the pitching is better?
First of all Duquette did mean for this time of the year and he was including some minor league pitchers that are closer to the majors than at this time last year. I didn't take the comments to mean he is done trying to improve the staff and he has said he has offers out to a few pitchers, but would not name them. Here is more of what he said on that topic.
"I think we have a little bit more starting pitching depth going into this year than we've had the last couple of years. We have some qualified starters already on the team and we have some young pitchers from the minors ready and available to supplement our starting pitching. That wasn't the case last year.
"We've got (Chris) Tillman, who came along. (Miguel) Gonzalez had a consistent year. (Wei-Yin) Chen had another solid year and then we have (Bud) Norris. Within the organization we also have (T.J.) McFarland, who went to winter ball and he's pitched pretty well down there. (Kevin) Gausman has another year of experience and he's a little bit closer.
"Beyond them, if you take a look at some of our younger pitchers, Mike Wright was one of the top pitchers in the Eastern League. He's on the horizon. A lot of teams like him. Tim Berry did real well out in Arizona and a lot of teams like him. Then Eduardo Rodriguez had a really good fall campaign.
"So there is some internal pitching coming up that is available to help and support the team as well as more established starting pitching already in Baltimore. So it is a little bit stronger than it has been the last couple of years at this time of year."
The Winter Meetings officially begin this morning here in Florida and the Orioles are on the clock with their fans who have been voicing displeasure with the team's offseason so far.
Do the Orioles have a big move in them? Do they have a mid-level move? Will there be trades, free agent signings or both in Orlando? How active will they be?
We begin finding out today.
Nathans note: Orioles minor league infielder Tucker Nathans was selected to represent the O's on the World Team at the upcoming Australian Baseball All-Star game Wednesday Dec. 18th. He is playing with the Perth Heat. In 19 games, Nathans is batting .333 with six doubles, one homer and 10 RBIs. He has an .822 OPS and is batting .368 with runners in scoring position.