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Saturday Bird Droppings: The Orioles are fighting to the finish

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Just two games remain as the Orioles look to wrap up a tough season with a decent finish.

MLB: OCT 01 Orioles at Blue Jays Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

There are no moral victories in professional sports. Losing is a bummer every time, even when your team is nearing the finish line of a 100+ loss season. That said, watching the Orioles for the last few weeks has been markedly more enjoyable than it was in the dog days of summer.

The improvement of the pitching staff is a massive piece of that. They all look like they belong on a major league mound. Zac Lowther again seems like a promising part of the future. Alexander Wells has added himself back to the conversation. Chris Ellis was a revelation off waivers. And, of course, John Means is back to looking like a top-of-the-rotation arm for years to come.

That turn in the form of the starting staff has allowed games to stay close and, by nature, be more compelling and worth watching. More of that in 2022, please!

Mike Elias is aware of the need for pitching. He said as much in his end-of-year presser. And he even flat out claimed that the team is going to “be looking at external reinforcements.” Now, what exactly “looking at” involves is open to wide speculation. But it needs to be more than signing a slew of over-the-hill hurlers to minor league deals and just praying that at least one of them works out.

I’m open to just about anything when it comes to rebuilding the pitching staff. The team does have a few interesting trade chips in Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander, although the potential return for them is unlikely to be significant. Making a move on the free agent side of things would seem easier, but even backend arms are expensive on the open market, and it’s unclear what sort of budget the club is working with before they prove that they are ready to win.

Whatever the case may be, adding arms that can stick in the big leagues needs to be a priority for the folks in the warehouse this winter.

Links

Hyde on Fry, Kremer, Hays and Baby Birds | School of Roch
Dean Kremer is one of those players that really needs to impress in the spring. The guy has plenty of talent to be on a big league staff. But he just could not get it to work with any consistency this year, even in Triple-A. That is one of the big disappointments for all of 2021. There is no reason to give up on him, of course. It just may require both he and the club to get creative with his usage next year.

Five takeaways from Orioles GM Mike Elias’ season-ending media session | The Baltimore Sun
I am trying to temper my own expectations for this offseason. What happens with the CBA is one reason. The other is that we are probably still one year from the franchise actually going “all in” on supplementing their young talent with free agents and trades. Grayson Rodriguez and Adley Rutschman will be up at some point in 2022, but the next wave (Colton Cowser, Jordan Westburg, Gunnar Henderson, etc.) is going to be later than that, maybe even 2023. When that slightly less experienced group is ready, that is when bigger investments should be expected.

O’s fall as top pick remains within reach | Orioles.com
In all likelihood, the Orioles are not going to get the top pick. They aren’t the worst team in baseball. The Diamondbacks are. And ya know what, that is really not a huge deal. The front office should be able to do plenty with the number two pick and massive signing bonus pool that comes along with it.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • José Morban turns 42 today. The middle infielder’s entire big league career came as a member of the 2003 Orioles. He appeared in 61 games and had 10 hits in 77 plate appearances. But he was also a perfect 8-for-8 on stolen base attempts!
  • Victor Santos celebrates his 45th birthday. The right-handed pitcher wrapped up his seven-season major league career with a four-game stint on the 2007 O’s, where he allowed 13 earned runs over 14.1 total innings

This day in O’s history

2014 - The Orioles spank the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the ALDS. Nelson Cruz and J.J. Hardy both go deep off of Tigers’ starter Max Scherzer. Chis Tillman gets the win for the O’s.

2016 - On the final day of the regular season, the O’s clinch a wild card spot, beating the Yankees 5-2 behind two Matt Wieters home runs.