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I Love The 2023 Baltimore Orioles, But They Better Correct Themselves At The Trade Deadline

This will be the most cornball shit I will ever say, but the Baltimore Orioles give me hope. It's not as if this team came entirely out of nowhere. They made a push for a playoff spot a season ago. But many people, myself included, believed the Orioles would be a true contender in 2023. But they've been a force from day one this season, and now, after taking three out of four on the road against the Rays at Tropicana Field, they find themselves in the driver's seat in baseball's toughest division, the American League East. It's premature to crown the Orioles kings of anything yet. They've now reached a point where they are the hunted and no longer the hunter. We're almost into August, and this is a first-place ball game. They're no longer baseball's cute, underdog story. The pressure is on. We'll see how they handle it. With that said, this organization was in the gutter not too long ago. This team knew how to tank, and they had to do it. Mike Elias inherited an absolute mess when he took over following a 115-loss season in 2018. Considering how subpar their farm system was when he took over, it's amazing that they became competitive as quickly as they did. Their management has trusted the process, and now they are on the verge of something special. 

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The Orioles aren't going anywhere. They're probably a year ahead of schedule, considering their farm system is in great shape, and their core is still very young. But this is where it gets hairy. I have seen teams in a similar position in the past who decided, for whatever reason, to take their foot off the gas (the Nationals sitting Stephen Strasburg in 2012 still annoys me). With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, I have this fear with the Orioles. I've followed this team all year. They're special. They're incomplete, but they're special. John Angelos must give Mike Elias free rein to do whatever he wants. Last year, they sold at the deadline, trading Jorge Lopez for Yeinner Cano, who has blossomed into one of the nastiest relievers in the game. The tables have turned this year. The Orioles will be buyers. With the right moves, they can win it all this season. Those opportunities only arise sometimes, especially for a team like Baltimore.

I'm not asking for Baltimore to empty the clip for Ohtani, but this team has an offense that can hit anyone, and they have a bullpen capable of shortening games like the Astros did in October last season. Their one weakness is their rotation. It's not a bad rotation, necessarily. Tyler Wells has been great, and Kyle Bradish has been good lately. But this team is an ace away from being the favorites in the American League, maybe in all of baseball. Names like Eduardo Rodriguez and Marcus Stroman will be available. Keep in mind Camden Yards is more pitcher-friendly than it's ever been with the new dimensions. A veteran pitcher could thrive there under the right circumstances.

I'm not reinventing the wheel by saying that the Orioles need to bolster their rotation, but they're the one team at the deadline that scares me. They have a core set up to be competitive for a long time, but no one can ever tell the future. Right now, every member of their core is young and healthy. It's still being determined if that will be the case next year or the year after. It may be tempting to look at this year's Orioles team and think that they're playing with house money and that it's best not to get greedy. I say, "fuck that." Get greedy and make your moves, even if it means removing a few pieces from your farm system. The last time they won a World Series was 1983. With the right moves, this team could be the last one standing in 2023.