The Big Picture
The Orioles are currently seven games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East. However, they are currently 45-40 as the second half starts and that puts them 0.5 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card. The Orioles last finished with a .500 record (and last made the playoffs) in 1997. For that matter, the last time the O’s finished with more than 70 wins was 2005 when Lee Mazzilli was the team’s manager. (Mazzilli’s son LJ was the Twins 9th round pick this June. He is yet to sign and may go back to U Conn for his senior season.) All Star Adam Jones has been Mr. Everything for the O’s. He leads the team in nearly every statistical category including Batting Average (.289), OBP (.330), Hits (98), Home Runs (20) and RBI (44).
Why They Will Trade With the Twins
The Orioles have not won in a long time and already shown that the will be aggressive, trading weeks ago for DH Jim Thome. But what are their needs?
The Orioles are 26th in baseball in batting average (.240), 26th in OBP (.302), and 19th in Slugging (.402). They are also 19th in runs scored (351). So, they need offense.
The Orioles are 19th in baseball in ERA (4.05), 15th in WHIP (1.30) and 16th in Batting Average Against (.253). Their starters have 37 Quality Starts, which ranks 26th in baseball. Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta are now in AAA Norfolk, leaving a starting rotation or Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chin, Miguel Gonzalez and Dana Eveland. Their bullpen has actually been quite solid, with Jim Johnson leading the way. However, counting on Luis Ayala, Darren O’Day and Kevin Gregg can’t give O’s fans a lot of confidence.
Nick Markakis is coming back from injury, but the Orioles could still acquire one outfielder to put into left field. Denard Span and Josh Willingham would help the offense tremendously. JJ Hardy has a .642 OPS this year but continues to play solid defense. Robert Andino is playing a lot of second base because Brian Roberts is always hurt. Could they be interested in Jamey Carroll as a second baseman or for depth?
Baltimore needs pitching, starting and relieving. They could be interested in Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins, Jared Burton or even Matt Capps, assuming his rehab continues to go well and he gets some innings with the Twins in the next week.
Why They Won't Trade With the Twins
To be sure, the Orioles have a lot of needs, and they do match up well with the Twins. If they want to go in and make a big push, they may be willing to over-spend, but they may also go after those big names that may or may not truly be available. They may go after Justin Upton, Zach Greinke and Cole Hamels.
Also, based on all of the weaknesses that the Orioles have, the next two weeks will be very important. Their next 11 games are against the AL Central (3 vs Detroit, 4 @ Minnesota, 4 @ Cleveland). That stretch is followed by three games at home against the Rays, one of the teams that they are fighting for a playoff berth. The Orioles may need to go at least .500 over those 14 games to feel like a buyer.
The Orioles have been running, it appears, on smoke and mirrors to this point in the 2012 season. Over the next two weeks, they will need to determine if they’re legitimate enough to make a big run, or if they just stand pat. Peter Angelos seems ready to make a run for it, whether is makes sense to do or not.