As the baseball season wears on and the Orioles continue to flirt with playoff contention, their top problem is definitely the offense. The rotation is what it is at this point -- inconsistent, but somewhere near league average overall -- and after some early season struggles, the bullpen and defense are solid enough on a day-to-day basis. But the offense continues to be overly dependent on its top hitters (Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Chris Davis), overly dependent on the longball, and riddled with automatic outs on a day-to-day basis.
One of those offensive gaps is J.J Hardy and his newly frustrating bat. It's a tradeoff the Orioles make for Hardy's defensive presence, and it's probably worth making. The bench bats aren't great, either, with Ryan Flaherty mired in an 0-for-8000 slump and Jimmy Paredes playing possum since June. Only the recently recalled Steve Clevenger offers a (probably temporary) glimmer of hope off the bench.
But the Orioles' other daily dead spot is in left field. The team's deadline acquisition of Gerardo Parra made the outfield situation a lot better, because before they got him, they were juggling two dead spots a day (or doing silly things like putting Chris Davis in right field). Parra is manning right field on a day-to-day basis, and doing so solves a major problem. But unfortunately, there are two corners to the outfield. The Orioles have now cycled through Alejandro de Aza (DFA/traded), Delmon Young (DFA/released), Travis Snider (DFA/released), David Lough (DFA/pending) and Steve Pearce ("disabled list") without getting any meaningful production from the plethora of outfield options they had to start the 2015 season.
The roster today essentially demands that the team trot out either Nolan Reimold, who's batting .231/.314/.352 and mired in a 4-for-27 slump, or recent callup Henry Urrutia, who was hitting fairly well in AAA Norfolk, but has seemingly never hit anything but a single at the major league level (including his first four games this year).
There's not all that much help to be had on the farm. Norfolk has recent acquisition Junior Lake (the Orioles already tried him out), the speedy but batless Julio Borbon, and prospect Dariel Alvarez, who's hitting a bit but probably won't be massively better than any of the aforementioned.
The Orioles will have to solve this problem from inside the organization, unless they can make an unexpected trade for someone who clears waivers. I don't have a brilliant proposal -- just trying to find a hot hand is about the best approach they can take, unless Dan Duquette can invent a time machine and not trade de Aza (who's slashing a perfectly cromulent .313/.362/.520 for Boston).
When the team played Davis in right before, it was silly, because it solved a corner outfield dead spot, but created one at first base (most of those at-bats went to Flaherty and Chris Parmelee). Today, they could play Davis in right, slide Parra to left, and give some first base time to Clevenger while he's the hot hand. It wouldn't be the worst idea in the short term, but it's not a long-term solution.
The Orioles need Reimold, Urrutia, Alvarez, Pearce or Lake to step up as the season ends. It's that simple. It's not that likely from anything we've seen to date, but getting one of their daily lineup holes solved will matter a lot as the team tries to stay in contention.