Let me start by repeating that I believe the Orioles need to add to their pitching staff, a point many made several weeks and months ago and still worth making. The Orioles didn't pitch well enough last year and to get better, and they probably need both current pitchers to improve plus a key addition or two.
The time has come for the Orioles to do it. I don't expect to see them in the hunt for Matt Garza, but he's about as good as anyone out there in my opinion. By the way, Garza at $70 million might turn out to be a better value than Masahiro Tanaka at $175 million, counting the posting fee.
But I don't expect to see the O's spend that much on a pitcher. I'd consider that for Garza, but they probably won't.
Going back to what I wrote the day after the Winter Meetings: If the club is not willing to sign a needed free agent that will cost $60 million, $80 million, $100 million or more, then don't the Orioles have to at least win the battles that take place on a lower dollar level?
Maybe it's time to give free agent pitcher Bronson Arroyo a third year, which seems to be what he really wants if we can believe multiple reports. To this point, no club is jumping to do that. To me, giving him a third year is very questionable since he'll turn 37 in February, but we're almost at the do anything stage. Do anything - words I can't believe I wrote much less partially endorse. But the time has come to win a free agent battle, even one on a much smaller scale than the Tanaka sweepstakes.
Please keep in mind that the fate of the 2014 season doesn't solely depend on additions and subtractions from this winter. Why do reporters and fans, when grading next season, focus almost exclusively on that?
While there is certainly some basis for that, of course, also keep in mind that how the Orioles perform in 2014 is also dependent on players who are already here.
Won't Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Miguel Gonzalez and others have a lot to say about the 2014 season?
This group of players - a pretty solid list, by the way - seems almost discounted when someone says the Orioles got worse or didn't do enough to improve. Keep in mind all those players get to play this year too and we'll see how all the Orioles do - not just new acquisitions, although they will be important too.
The Yankees are formidable and they were before adding Tanaka. Their demise has been written about and predicted many times over the last few years and I've always said I'll believe it only when it happens.
They have pockets so deep they seem neverending. They said they wanted to stay under the $189 million level. They've blown right by that.
The Yankees have four players that will earn more than $21 million next season and eight that will earn more than $15 million. Alex Rodriguez got suspended for a year and the team then had more money to spend. That's enough to make any O's fan want to beat his head against a wall.
Whether they get Arroyo or anyone else, you know what the O's have to do next year? Figure out a way to beat the big-spending Yankees while also trying to beat the rest of the division.
The Orioles have seen the Yankees and Red Sox load up on talent and spend big for years. Heck, Toronto tried to load up last winter. Tanaka is just the latest. He should be real good for New York, but I don't expect Buck Showalter to flinch over his signing.
The Yankees bought another good player. Does that really surprise anyone? They've spent big the past two years, too, winning 180 games and making one playoff appearance to the Orioles' 178 wins and one playoff appearance.
The offseason is what it is. Reporters and fans grade teams off what they did or didn't do. The Orioles are getting criticized for their failure to add more significant players to this point. Is the criticism valid? Yes, it is. The feeling is the Orioles are good, but a few key additions could make the difference and the O's haven't made those additions to this point.
In an early December interview with MASNsports.com, Dan Duquette said this about the club's budget:
"The team is not reducing the payroll, the team is reallocating resources. Any perception that the team is lowering payroll, that is not the case. The team has increased the payroll last year and is prepared to do that again this year. ... We are going to go sign some other players. You'll see in the next couple of weeks that we'll reinvest that money."
There is still time to make additions that add to the payroll and that would be music to the ears for some fans.
But once the season starts, all teams will have 25 players on their rosters and get to use all of them - not just players they added since last season ended.