One thing that has been true about fans throughout Birdland for a long time: They love it when national media reporters and outlets say nice things about their team, and some get really hacked when they do not. Or say something perceived as a slight.
My opinion is that MLB Network was on the O’s bandwagon pretty much throughout the 2023 season. The coverage was extensive and they were bullish on the Orioles just about from the start to the end of the season.
That continues even after the Orioles got swept three in a row by Texas in the American League Division Series.
A theme about the Orioles is that the team is just beginning its window to chase championships for the next few Octobers and maybe longer.
But on the network on Friday, former major league general manager Dan O’Dowd had a few suggestions for the Orioles to consider this winter. It will not come as a surprise that one of them is that the club should add to its major league roster by making deals from their fertile and No. 1-ranked farm system.
“No. 1, the Orioles aren’t just talented at the major league; their Triple-A level is stacked,” O’Dowd said. “How do they harvest the crops? Who are the players they hold on to? Who are the players they look to move this winter? Because you can’t play everybody. How does that fill their biggest need, which is an impact starting pitcher and depth for the starting rotation?
"That’s the first thing. You have to be able to evaluate the players that you have. And who is going to be the guy going forward?"
The Orioles currently have six players ranked in the Baseball America top 100, with Jackson Holliday No. 1, Colton Cowser No. 11, Coby Mayo No. 23, Samuel Basallo No. 42, Heston Kjerstad No. 43 and Joey Ortiz No. 63.
With right-hander Félix Bautista out for the 2024 season after surgery, I see a closer as the No. 1 need on this team right now. O’Dowd still looks at the starting staff.
"They need to add not just an impact starting pitcher, they need to create a little more depth in their starting rotation," he said. "And they have the position players to do that, at the major league level and minor league level. Who do they move forward in the process of doing that?”
The Orioles, under the Mike Elias front office, have not spent big via free agency. O'Dowd said he is fine with them continuing to be modest players in that market.
“In the situation they are in, certainly," he said. "What they have to do, if you look at their team right now, I can make a compelling argument they have two aircraft carriers in (Adley) Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. And then they have this group of (Ryan) Mountcastle, (Austin) Hays, (Cedric) Mullins, this group of guys that vary between contributors and impact players.
“Their development process has to take some of these guys from being contributors to impact players. You don’t win the World Series unless you have at least four of them. That is pretty proven in our game. They have two and they have to figure out who the other two are.
“They also have to identify who they need to sign long-term. Windows can close pretty quickly. If you want to have a sustainable window they need to get some of these players signed long-term."