Do you remember the 2012 Orioles?
Of course you do, and one of the lessons we learned from that 93-win team that made the playoffs is that winning is a team effort. For that club, that specific cliche was maybe never more true.
Do you remember that the 2012 Orioles had just one starting pitcher, Wei-Yin Chen, make more than 21 starts or pitch more than 140 innings? Chen was one of 19 players to record a win that year. That list included Chris Davis. Chen was one of 12 pitchers to make a start that season.
You remember the 2012 Orioles, right? You may remember that club used 52 players over 162 games. Jim Thome, who started in the playoffs, didn’t join the team until July 1. Lew Ford, who started in the playoffs, didn’t join the team until July 29. Manny Machado, who started in the playoffs, joined that team on Aug. 9.
Remember the season-opening rotation? It was Jake Arrieta on opening day followed by Tommy Hunter, Jason Hammel, Brian Matusz and Chen. Only two of those five even made a playoff start.
Miguel Gonzalez started in the postseason but didn’t make his first start that year until July 6. Heck, the O’s didn’t acquire Joe Saunders until Aug. 29 and he made two huge playoff starts that led to wins.
So why do we focus so much on which players will win roster jobs on opening day? It is going to take a lot more than 25 players to get the job done.
I don’t know why we focus on it, but we sure do. Every year, too. Who will make that roster for the first game on March 31? Sure, it’s worth discussing and debating and it is also worth understanding that if the Orioles make the playoffs in 2014, it’s very likely that someone that will play a key role will not be in the dugout for the season opener.
This is why it is not necessarily the best 25 players that will go north at the end of this month from Florida. It is the best 25 for the long-term needs of the club.
To me, it makes tremendous sense that players with options may have to start the season in the minors. They’ll likely be needed at some point and it is at that point you want to be able to make the call to get them and not have them be playing for another organization.
Players like Kevin Gausman, Steve Johnson, Ryan Flaherty, Jemile Weeks, T.J. McFarland, Henry Urrutia and Brad Brach to name just a few, have options remaining if the O’s choose to start them at Triple-A.
Players like Zach Britton, Josh Stinson, David Lough, Steve Pearce, Francisco Peguero, Kelvin De La Cruz, Edgmer Escalona, Nolan Reimold, Alfredo Aceves, Alexi Casilla and Delmon Young are out of options. It may benefit the club more to hang on to as many of these players as they can, rather than to expose them to waivers to try and get them to the minors.
This long list of players out of options also could mean the Orioles are involved in some trade talks leading up to opening day. Better to get something for a player than just lose that player through waivers. Or a player could be traded and that opens a roster spot for a player out of options. A lot of things can happen and some of them will.
One saying in baseball is that “things have a way of working out.” Often, they do. But looking at a large list of potential opening day Orioles that are out of options could make the final days of this spring training even more eventful than usual.
What is your take?: How can the O’s assemble a roster on opening day to keep as many players as possible? Should they look to do that or simply take the best 25 players north? Where is the biggest roster crunch likely to be?