Andrew Stetka: Missing playoffs won't ruin Orioles

As the Orioles struggle to cling to their lead in the American League East, they are starting to show their true colors - and they aren't orange and black. The pitching staff has looked more like black and blue of late. I'd call the offense green at this point, not because it's new or fresh, but because it looks sick. It may be true that the Orioles battled to avoid a sixth straight loss in Toronto yesterday, but everything isn't rosy in Birdland right now. The O's have still lost nine of their last 15, and have to be looking in the mirror at this point. There's little that can be done to make this team exponentially better prior to today's non-waiver trade deadline. The farm system isn't strong, despite claims to the contrary by executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette. Some of the largest holes on this roster were things that needed to be fixed in the offseason, not under the gun with costs as high as they are on the trade market.

It's now August, and the Orioles hold the slimmest of leads in the division. But I'm here with a radical, if not insane thought for you to ponder. The only thing I ask is that you keep an open mind. If the Orioles don't make the playoffs this season, it's not the end of the world. Sure, it may seem like a major disappointment if the O's don't win the division after having led for the bulk of the season, including at this late point in the year. I won't disagree that seeing that unfold would be disheartening. But the Orioles have overachieved quite a bit to this point. It wouldn't be surprising to see things revert back to normalcy.

The Orioles have a tendency to prove the pundits wrong. Over the last few years, they haven't been a popular choice among many of the experts. But they've still gone out and won more games than expected and cracked the postseason from time to time. This year was no different, with many of these so-called experts picking the O's to finish around fourth place in the AL East (yours truly included). Without much national fanfare, the Orioles have overachieved so far this season.

Part of the reason I believe it wouldn't devastate the Orioles if they missed the postseason this year is that simple word - expectation. I guarantee there isn't one player or coach inside that clubhouse that feels that way, but that's the perception from outside of it. The Orioles have to be looking at the long game as well. While they won't be hurt by a postseason appearance this year, they have to think they'd have a better shot if they improve the pitching staff and add a corner outfielder this winter.

I know that if the Orioles do miss the playoffs this October, the offseason will be full of calls for Duquette's job and massive overhaul of the team. That isn't fair, and shouldn't happen. Sure, much more could've been done to improve the roster last offseason by Duquette, but that doesn't mean the team isn't in good position beyond 2016. The most glaring hole the Orioles could be forced to fill is at catcher, where Matt Wieters will once again be a free agent. Aside from that, the core of this team will remain intact. Calls for Duquette's job should only be met with answers for something better. He'll have another opportunity this offseason to add to a roster that is already pretty good. Whether or not it's good enough to play in the postseason this year remains to be seen.

By no means am I rooting against the Orioles to make the playoffs. I'm just coming to grips with the fact that maybe they are playing a bit above their heads to this point. I do worry a bit though that if the Orioles do hang on and make the playoffs, changes to the roster won't come as swiftly this offseason. Improvements must be made to the pitching staff, or we may have seen the ceiling for this team. I'm prepared for the ride though. With two months to go, the Orioles will provide us once again with something to look forward to. No matter what they do (or don't do) today, they'll still be in contention tomorrow. As an Orioles fan, that's always a plus.

Andrew Stetka blogs about the Orioles for Eutaw Street Report. Follow him on Twitter: @AStetka. His thoughts on the O's appear here as part of's continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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