With the great run the Orioles have had this year, they could be an above .500 team next year.
However, it will take a few things to make sure that happens – the biggest of which is a power hitter.
When the calendar finally reaches April of 2011, the Orioles will be back to being the team that is expected to make at least a little noise in the AL East.
The biggest difference though, is that unlike last year, the buzz will be somewhat warranted, as the O’s have had a winning record since Buck Showalter became the manager.
In this last two months, the organization has seen a lot to be happy about. Adam Jones and Matt Wieters have gotten out of their slumps, the rotation looks great, and hitting with runners in scoring position is no longer embarrassing.
These are all great things to see, but the Orioles still lack that power bat to put in the middle of the lineup.
This season, the O’s power is led by Luke Scott with 27 homeruns. That number isn’t terrible, but Scott is very up and down. He’ll hit five jacks in a week, but then will go 10 to 15 games without one. If a team is looking to compete with the Rays and Yankees, that drought isn’t something you can afford from your main source of power.
In addition to mercurial bat of Scott, the Orioles didn’t get a home run from a first baseman until June 30 – that’s 72 games into the season!
Behind Scott, there isn’t much power either. Nick Markakis has lost power and seems content hitting doubles, Jones and Wieters will probably top out at 25 homers a year, and Felix Pie and Brian Roberts are finesse guys.
If the Orioles are serious about winning 80 games or so next season, they need a big bat in the middle to provide that power and overall production that will benefit everyone.
Some of the big names that could provide power that are available this offseason are Lance Berkman, Carlos Pena, Victor Martinez and Adam Dunn.
Any of those guys would provide a spark in the middle of the lineup, and for all but one of those, it would also be taking away a power hitter from an AL East opponent. It is really a double whammy if you think about it.
Owner Peter Angelos has always said that if the team shows that if significant improvement made with a big contract player, and that it wouldn’t just be spending money, he would shell out the cash to do it.
This offseason is that time.
The O’s have shown they can win against anyone over the last two months and with a little help, this trend could last all of 2011.