We’ve all watched the games. We’ve all felt the frustration. We’ve all agreed that middle-of-the-rotation guys cannot be counted upon to lead a team into contention.
It’s been all about the offense for years now. The last time the Orioles finished the season outside the top five in home runs was 2010. On the other end of the spectrum, the Orioles have finished in the top ten in all of baseball in ERA just twice in my lifetime – 1997 and 2014.
The story of the Dan Duquette era has been the same every year. In the offseason, the question always seems to be, “Who can we sign that will give our starting rotation a boost?” At the mid-season trade deadline, O’s fans wonder, “Who can we trade for that will help our starting rotation but also won’t come at a huge cost?”
It’s a tired saga, really.
The problem with Duquette is that those questions are never answered. Jason Hammel was not a solution. Neither was Scott Feldman. Not Bud Norris, not Ubaldo Jimenez, not Yovani Gallardo, and not Wade Miley. The only starting pitchers Duquette acquired who actually worked out to an extent were Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Miami Marlins last offseason, and Miguel Gonzalez, with whom the team parted ways with last spring. Duquette also drafted Kevin Gausman, who has pitched well but has not come close to what we expected from him. Other than that, not a damn thing.
For years, the Orioles have lacked a true ace. At times, Chris Tillman has been good enough that some considered him an ace. That said, I’m a firm believer that there’s a difference between an ace and a team’s best pitcher. Tillman has, at times, been the Orioles’ best pitcher, but he’s never been the type of guy you put on the mound every fifth day and fully expect to win. Not for me, at least. Those are the Noah Syndergaards and Max Scherzers and Chris Sales of the world and Tillman does not fall into that category.
What Duquette has excelled at has been acquiring power bats. He signed Nelson Cruz to a deal that ended up being a huge bargain based on his production. He traded for Mark Trumbo, who currently leads baseball with 40 home runs, on track to be the fourth Oriole in as many seasons to lead the league in that category. Duquette signed Chris Davis to a massive contract extension, despite the fact that the team desperately needed a good starting pitcher. Instead, we got Yovani Gallardo and lost a first-round draft pick in the process. Before that, of course, we got Ubaldo Jimenez…and lost a first-round draft pick.
As usual, I’ll pose this question: What’s the solution?
Dan Duquette has proven consistently that he cannot put together a dominant starting rotation but knows what he’s doing with the offense. So how about hiring somebody to focus solely on pitching?
Brady Anderson currently holds the title of “Vice President of Baseball Operations,” one tier below Duquette on the front office totem pole. He, obviously, is an offensive-minded guy, having hit 50 homers himself one season.
I’m not going to pretend to know all that happens behind the scenes but I do know that something has to change. The Orioles are not going to have a competitive starting rotation under Dan Duquette. The closest they came was 2014, when seemingly everybody had career years. The simple fact of the matter is that Duquette needs help.
Of the current ten teams who would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, just four of them are outside the top ten in team ERA. The Orioles are the worst of those at 23rd.
Someone else needs to be put in charge of acquiring starting pitching. Someone with scouting experience. Someone who is invested in the present and future success of the Baltimore Orioles. Someone who understands that you can’t wait until February or March to sign the last remaining starting pitcher on the market. There’s a reason nobody has signed that guy yet and it’s probably because that guy isn’t very good.
What I’m saying here, obviously, is that Peter Angelos should hire me. I’m pretty good at making trades on MLB The Show.
I kid. My point remains, though. If the Orioles are serious about contending in the future, they need someone else to do the job that Dan Duquette hasn’t. Not necessarily instead of Dan, but perhaps with him.