Baltimore Orioles remain quiet and that’s okay



This is how Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers settled the fans of a 1-2 Packers team that was off to a slow start. Fast forward to 11 weeks later, and they might be considered the best team in the NFL.

The message is the same for Baltimore Orioles fans.

Relax. This is what they do.

Since the start of the Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette era, the Orioles have enjoyed the fourth-best record in baseball, with a winning percentage of .564, ranking behind only the Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals.

They don’t go for the big free agent signings. There won’t be a blockbuster trade. No outrageous contracts that could impact the future of the ball club. They just don’t rush into things. They sit back and let the market set itself.

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Duquette said it himself in an interview at the Winter Meetings being held in San Diego:

“We’re not about signing high-profile free agents. We’re about bringing good players through the farm system. We’re about making trades. We’re about being active in the Rule 5 draft, signing international players. That’s who we are.”

It’s been a tough offseason to swallow thus far. Nelson Cruz, arguably the club’s best acquisition since the 2008 trade that brought Adam Jones and Chris Tillman to Baltimore, has moved on to Seattle. Nick Markakis, possibly one of the best farm system products in Orioles history, is headed to Atlanta after nine seasons in Baltimore. Andrew Miller, a key midseason acquisition, has signed with the rival New York Yankees.

Meanwhile, the Orioles have been silent. There have been a few rumblings (Marlon Byrd and Norichika Aoki to name a few), but nothing has materialized as of this writing. In fact, in the three seasons that Duquette and Showalter have worked together, they’ve always left the Winter Meetings the same way they started.

And that’s just fine. The next few months is when they’ll make it count.

“We’re not about signing high-profile free agents. We’re about bringing good players through the farm system. We’re about making trades. We’re about being active in the Rule 5 draft, signing international players. That’s who we are.” – Dan Duquette

In 2012, their first offseason together in Baltimore, the team signed two international unknowns in Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez the same month that they traded away veteran Jeremy Guthrie. Wilson Betemit, Luis Ayala and Danny Valencia were just a few of the underrated signings that helped Baltimore earn its first winning season since 1997. Fourteen seasons of losing baseball had finally come to a halt.

To add to the excitement, Nate McLouth and Manny Machado were late season additions to the 2012 team and made immediate impacts that transitioned into success in the 2013 season also. 2013 was a “down” year that saw the Orioles miss the playoffs, but finish with a respectable 85-77 record. While it was disappointing to miss the postseason, back-to-back years of winning baseball was a thrill to have again in Baltimore.

It was the 2014 campaign which saw them do their best work yet. In a somewhat surprising move, the Orioles dumped Jim Johnson and his large salary to the Oakland Athletics. This deal gave the club some flexibility that ultimately would lead to the next two signings.

It was no secret that the Orioles were in the market for a starting pitcher, and while the results weren’t as expected, the team addressed their need with the signing of Ubaldo Jimenez. Just days later, the Orioles brass was able to grab Cruz for a modest $8 million, mostly due to the PED controversy that surrounded him.

During the season, they continued to make significant moves with the trades to bring in Miller, Nick Hundley and Alejandro De Aza. Showalter convinced Steve Pearce to stay in Baltimore, just days after releasing him. The Orioles led the Majors in the total number of team transactions, and it all paid off with a trip to the AL Championship Series.

Each of these moves made perfect sense for the Orioles. They weren’t reaches. They filled needs. They are team-first guys. They are players that Buck and company say fit “The Oriole Way.”

There is reason to be optimistic. Did we really expect Cruz to not just lead the team, but the Majors, in homers just one year after Chris Davis‘ monster 2013 season? Did we expect Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley to be as productive as they were once Matt Wieters went down due to injury? Did anyone anticipate that it would be Zach Britton who would lead the team in saves after the departure of Johnson? I think not.

It was expected that teams would want to pick apart a team that just made its way to the AL Championship Series. It’s a position that Oriole fans aren’t accustomed to.

While it’s been a slow and painful start to this offseason, Duquette and Showalter have stuck to their plan. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of watching the clubs with the high payrolls pay for the cream of the crop. That’s not how the Orioles operate.

There is no denying that it hurts to see Markakis and Cruz go. They were terrific pieces that were also fan favorites. It’s not going to be easy to replace them, especially since it leaves two glaring voids in the outfield.

And again, that’s okay.

Buck and Duquette have a plan. Let them do their work.

They have yet to do wrong Baltimore.