An ESPN survey ranks O’s as one of MLB’s least improved teams

Add ESPN’s Jayson Stark and a few anonymous baseball executives to the chorus of Orioles’ fans that are disappointed in the team’s lack of significant offseason moves to date.

While the Orioles have added some players they like, none have yet have fallen under the “big splash” department or have produced much excitement among the fans.

Of course, the Orioles have plenty of offseason left to make additions and they have pointed out a few times now that they really like the team they currently have assembled.

But fans keep coming to message boards like ours daily to say they feel the club needs upgrades and cannot count on what they believe was a lot of good fortune in 2012 happening again come next April.

In a survey of MLB execs, the Orioles were rated as the fourth-least improved team at the offseason’s midpoint, behind Miami, Houson and Texas.

Toronto and Boston are rated as the top two improved clubs, further serving to annoy O’s fans as they see AL East rivals seemingly improved. I say seemingly because Toronto has clearly won the offseason. Now they simply must win actual games come April. But I will admit there is no way I could rate the O’s rotation ahead of Toronto’s now that they have added R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.

Here is what Stark wrote about the Orioles:

After such an uplifting season, the Orioles seemed positioned for a big offseason. But maybe they were just positioned for a big second half of the offseason - because their big league additions in the first half have consisted of Trayvon Robinson, Danny Valencia and Alexi Casilla (plus Rule 5 draft pick T.J. McFarland).

“I’m really surprised by what they’ve done, or haven’t done,” said one AL executive. “With the momentum they had going into the offseason and the resources I thought they had financially, I don’t think anybody would have been surprised if they’d gotten in on something big.”

“Coming off such a good year, they haven’t done anything to make you say they’re taking that next step,” said an NL exec. “It didn’t even have to be something big. Even signing a Ryan Dempster. Go out and get one veteran guy to put in your rotation and stabilize it. I don’t know how they can sit there and say this rotation is good enough to get them back there.”

I would point out to that NL exec that the O’s rotation got better and better last year. While O’s starters posted an ERA of 4.42 for the entire season to rank ninth in the American League, their ERA was 4.01 after the All-Star break, when the Orioles went 48-29.

From Aug. 1 on, the O’s starters worked to an ERA of 3.85 through the end of the regular season, going 38-20 in that time. The improvement by the starters was a key reason the club’s overall team ERA improved to 3.90 by the end of the year to rank a respectable sixth in the AL.

I like the depth of that rotation right now and if they add Joe Saunders, all the better. I also like the current makeup of the club better than many fans we hear from on our blogs.

The Orioles have time to make their team better, but the bottom line to their current offseason will not be known until the end of the 2013 season. Plus, let’s not forget you can make moves during next season as well. But the goal is the playoffs now, after last season.

Can they get there again? It seems right now many fans of the Orioles and many national media don’t think so.

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