Do the Orioles need to add starting pitching?
I say the answer to that question is a clear yes.
Others may say the Orioles already have six pitchers for five starting spots in Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman and Zach Britton.
The only problem with that thinking is that having even six is not enough. Not over a full season. The Orioles used nine pitchers to start games last year and 12 in 2009.
No doubt, both Tillman and Britton will get their chances at some point in 2011.
To me, it just makes good business sense to keep Britton in the minors to postpone his reaching Super Two arbitration status while also ensuring he can't be a free agent until after seven big league seasons.
It just makes sense, and it doesn't matter whether his agent is Scott Boras or anyone else.
I like how the O's had Arrieta make 28 Triple-A starts over two seasons and he was pretty ready when he got here. Britton made just 12 Norfolk starts in the second half of last year.
As a high school draft pick, Britton just turned 23 last week and had not pitched above SIngle-A Frederick until last summer. There is no rush to have him in the majors on opening day. If he is clearly ready, fine. But putting off his debut a couple of months while he fine tunes a few more things is not a bad plan at all.
After Tillman and Britton, there is no one on the farm pushing for a big league starting job right now. Troy Patton may be next after that pair with others like Steve Johnson, Tim Bascom, Chorye Spoone and Brandon Erbe looking to prove themselves at Triple-A when they get there or come back from injury.
The O's could move someone like Jim Johnson, Jason Berken or Rick VandenHurk out of the bullpen, but the pen is not exactly filled with solid depth right now .
The O's have not been linked to many free agent pitchers, but I can't imagine the club feels set in the rotation.
For what would likely be a one-year deal, they can't expect to get anything much more than a back end of rotation pitcher and that is fine by me. They just need to add some depth there.
Even someone with a 5.10 ERA that can pitch 190 innings like Kevin Millwood did in 2010 would suffice to add some depth and give the youngsters more minor league time if they need it.
I suspect we will see the O's add one or two pitchers that could push for the back end of the rotation. It likely won't be anyone to garner much attention or excite too many fans, but might be someone necessary to add.
You can never have enough pitching. I think I heard someone say that before.