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  • Orioles Provide Hope for the Hopeless

    The Baltimore Orioles celebrate after a victoryMany believe there's no way the Twins can possibly turn things around quickly enough to be a competitive team next season. They're on their way to a second straight 90-plus loss season, their starting rotation is an absolute mess and their best prospects are still probably a couple years away from making an impact.

    To those people, I present the 2012 Baltimore Orioles.

    A year ago, the O's finished last in the AL East for a fourth straight season, and their 4.89 team ERA was the worst mark in the majors.

    Now, they find themselves in the thick of the postseason race,tied with the Yankees for first place in what is routinely baseball's toughest division. Their 4.09 team ERA is exactly on par with the American League average. With three weeks left in the season, they've already posted their highest win total since 1998.

    It's a pretty remarkable story, and one that should provide a spark of hope for despondent Twins fans. For while Baltimore's shocking rise has been heavily influenced by good luck (they're 17 games over .500 despite being outscored by opponents this season), their circumstances are also far more daunting than the Twins. The Orioles had been in the gutter for the better part of two decades, rather than two years, and they play in the treacherous AL East rather than the perpetually mediocre AL Central.

    The most relevant ingredient in Baltimore's turnaround is their pitching staff's rise from worst-in-the-world to middle-of-the-pack. If the Twins, who currently rank 28th out of 30 MLB teams in ERA, could simply move to the middle in 2013, there's no reason why they couldn't take a shot at the Central division with some good breaks (and after the last two years, it definitely seems like they'll be due for some good breaks).

    How has Baltimore done it? To quote Terry Ryan, they've done it by exploring every avenue.

    You've got your unconventional free agent signing in Wei-Yin Chen, who's come over from Japan with great success.

    You've got your savvy trade acquisition in Jason Hammel, brought over from the Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie (who fell apart in Colorado).

    You've got your out-of-nowhere unheralded minor-league free agent in Miguel Gonzalez.

    You've got young players who have previously struggled, like Chris Tillman and Zach Britton, taking steps forward.

    And you've got a lights-out relief corps. The O's rank fourth in the AL with a 3.17 bullpen ERA.

    Baltimore didn't go on a spending spree to repair a broken pitching staff. They got creative, showed patience with young arms and benefited from some good fortune. There's no reason to rule out a similar scenario for the Twins, especially when you consider that the GM Ryan has made numerous good moves since retaking the helm (even if that's not reflected in the team's record) and he figures to have a decent chunk of money to spend this winter.

    "Be like Baltimore." For many years it would have been an insane model for success, but for the Twins and Terry Ryan, it will make for a great offseason formula.
    This article was originally published in blog: Orioles Provide Hope for the Hopeless started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 52 Comments
    1. frightwig's Avatar
      frightwig -
      Do the Twins really figure to have much money to spend this winter? I had the opposite impression, given that the club already owes $68M to 9 players (including 2, Blackburn and Nishioka, who may not be on the 2013 roster), before Terry Ryan even settles any arbitration cases and accounts for the serfs in the organization. If the payroll budget drops again, as many expect, he might have enough money to buy or trade for a mid-price starting pitcher. He'll probably take a flyer on another budget-line veteran to fill a rotation spot, too. Maybe he'll flip Span for one or two young arms.... But I'll be kind of surprised if he does much more than that.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      The O's are where they are cause of blind luck. Are they a better team now then they were a year ago...yes. But to make it seem like the O's have build some type of blueprint for succees is just wrong.

      They have a horseshoe up their ass that has little to no chance of continuing into 2013 and beyond.
    1. mnjon's Avatar
      mnjon -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      The O's are where they are cause of blind luck. Are they a better team now then they were a year ago...yes. But to make it seem like the O's have build some type of blueprint for succees is just wrong.

      They have a horseshoe up their ass that has little to no chance of continuing into 2013 and beyond.
      I'm pretty sure a lot of people would have said the same thing about the '87 and even the '91 Twins. Not saying that the Orioles are going to win the World Series, but if they do, it doesn't take away any of the meaning just because they aren't contending the next year.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by mnjon View Post
      I'm pretty sure a lot of people would have said the same thing about the '87 and even the '91 Twins. Not saying that the Orioles are going to win the World Series, but if they do, it doesn't take away any of the meaning just because they aren't contending the next year.
      What in the helll does that have to do with what I just said?

      Nick laid out this post that the O's have given bad teams hope for a quick turnaround and that's not true. The O's are winning games with pixie dust and a horseshoe up Showalter's ass. Hell the ****ing Red Sox have a better run differential then the mighty O's. If the O's win the World Series this season, well god bless em and good for them. But what the O's have going right now isn't a formula for succees over the longterm, it's nothing but smoke and mirrors.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      There is no such thing as sustained luck. The 87 Twins had a negative run differential. They found ways to win when they needed to. What the Orioles are doing now as a formula for success is not for the long term. Nowhere in the article does it say it is for the long term. Right now I really doubt that many Twins fans are concerned about the long term success as much as they are avoiding another decade of failure. Small and mid sized market teams need to have continued player development and not have their stars signed to long term contracts have issues.
    1. mnjon's Avatar
      mnjon -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by mnjon View Post
      I'm pretty sure a lot of people would have said the same thing about the '87 and even the '91 Twins. Not saying that the Orioles are going to win the World Series, but if they do, it doesn't take away any of the meaning just because they aren't contending the next year.
      What in the helll does that have to do with what I just said?

      Nick laid out this post that the O's have given bad teams hope for a quick turnaround and that's not true. The O's are winning games with pixie dust and a horseshoe up Showalter's ass. Hell the ****ing Red Sox have a better run differential then the mighty O's. If the O's win the World Series this season, well god bless em and good for them. But what the O's have going right now isn't a formula for succees over the longterm, it's nothing but smoke and mirrors.
      Just like you so eloquently put, "They have a horseshoe up their ass that has little to no chance of continuing into 2013 and beyond." Nick's isn't saying they have a blueprint for success for years to come. He never says this is sustainable. He's merely saying that you don't need to have the Dodgers or Angels money and statistical talent to have a great season. The Orioles may be so good/lucky that they can win the World Series. He doesn't say one way or another if they will continue to thrive. He's just saying they have a chance, and although they have the negative run differential, I'd say a decent chance at getting to the World Series. I'd gladly take that. Based on your argument, I'm guessing that you're more content with the decade of playoffs without even one AL Pennant. That's fine if that's what you are content with, but a large portion of the fan base would probably rather have another Championship than years of nothing more than playoff contention. They may not care if it's sustainable. I'm happy with the way the Twins performed between '02 and '10 but I wouldn't want that to be our peak long term. It's not like I want the Twins to end up like the Cubs or anything. :-P
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Hope is not a strategy. Sure there is hope, but you can always hope. I want an actual strategy to be executed.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by mnjon View Post
      He's just saying they have a chance, and although they have the negative run differential, I'd say a decent chance at getting to the World Series. I'd gladly take that. Based on your argument, I'm guessing that you're more content with the decade of playoffs without even one AL Pennant. That's fine if that's what you are content with, but a large portion of the fan base would probably rather have another Championship than years of nothing more than playoff contention. They may not care if it's sustainable. I'm happy with the way the Twins performed between '02 and '10 but I wouldn't want that to be our peak long term. It's not like I want the Twins to end up like the Cubs or anything. :-P
      They have a chance based off nothing more then blind ass backwards luck. Would Nick have written this same article if the O's were 68-73 as there pythagorean says they should be...ofcourse not. He wrote cause the O's went from one of the worst teams in the league to contending. The only problem is they're contending off nothing but luck. "Be like the O's" how the hell is a team suppose like a team that's winning based off nothing but luck?

      As for the Twins failures in the postseason, ask anyone on BYTO how I felt about those losses.
    1. THE DFC's Avatar
      THE DFC -
      I appreciate a lot of the local sentiment that wants to grasp at straws to continue to roll forward with the Mauer/Morneau/Span/Willingham grouping, but the truth of the matter is that magically putting together a rotation that will make us competitive next season is like banking on hitting your number in one spin in roulette.

      We have a very intriguing wave of young players on its way. A far smarter model to follow would be the Nationals and the Rays who are building around young talent. If we can trade Span, Morneau, Willingham, etc. to fill in the gaps of this young talent, I'm all for it versus trying to roll a Yahtzee next season and running the risk of any of the aforementioned 3's value going in the toilet via injury.

      Play the odds and play the long-term game. It makes far more sense.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      The only problem is they're contending off nothing but luck.
      The central point of this article, which apparently whizzed right over your head, is that the Orioles were able to make substantial enough improvements on their formerly league-worst pitching staff to hold their own in the tough AL East, and without expending a whole lot of money or resources in the process.

      You're correct that the Twins probably couldn't compete in the AL East next year. Good job.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      The central point of this article, which apparently whizzed right over your head, is that the Orioles were able to make substantial enough improvements on their formerly league-worst pitching staff to hold their own in the tough AL East, and without expending a whole lot of money or resources in the process.

      You're correct that the Twins probably couldn't compete in the AL East next year. Good job.

      And if you read my posts you'll see that I said the O's are better then they were a year ago. They made some good moves that made them a better team. But you devoted the first chunk of your article to the O's contending and being in the think of the AL East race, but if they were 68-73 (as they should be) you don't write this article.

      If you wouldn't have mentioned contending and quick turn arounds then I wouldn't have a problem with it.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      And if you read my posts you'll see that I said the O's are better then they were a year ago. They made some good moves that made them a better team. But you devoted the first chunk of your article to the O's contending and being in the think of the AL East race, but if they were 68-73 (as they should be) you don't write this article.

      If you wouldn't have mentioned contending and quick turn arounds then I wouldn't have a problem with it.
      Do you deny that the Twins would have a chance to turn around and contend if they have a league-average pitching staff next year? If not, why are you even arguing? They don't need the same amount of luck that the O's have experienced to compete in the AL Central.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Do you deny that the Twins would have a chance to turn around and contend if they have a league-average pitching staff next year? If not, why are you even arguing? They don't need the same amount of luck that the O's have experienced to compete in the AL Central.
      No I don't think the Twins would contend for the division with a league average pitching staff.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Do you deny that the Twins would have a chance to turn around and contend if they have a league-average pitching staff next year? If not, why are you even arguing? They don't need the same amount of luck that the O's have experienced to compete in the AL Central.
      No I don't think the Twins would contend for the division with a league average pitching staff.
      The Sox and Tigers are doing just that...

      Pitching ERA: Tigers 4th, Sox 9th, Twins 13th.

      Hitting...

      Runs Scored: Sox 5th, Twins 6th, Tigers 8th.

      And it's not as if the Sox and Tigers are going to get any better next season. Neither one has a young roster, much of a farm, or money left to spend.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      No I don't think the Twins would contend for the division with a league average pitching staff.
      Well they've done it multiple times before so, basically, you're wrong.

      In 2009, the Twins won the AL Central with a 4.50 ERA that ranked 11th in the AL.

      In 2008, they came one game short of winning the division with a 4.16 ERA that ranked 7th in the AL.

      In 2003, they won the division handily with a 4.41 ERA that ranked 7th in the AL.

      Three average (or worse) pitching staffs, three contending teams. And that's just in the last ten years. There are plenty of examples outside of the Twins, too.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      No I don't think the Twins would contend for the division with a league average pitching staff.
      Well they've done it multiple times before so, basically, you're wrong.

      In 2009, the Twins won the AL Central with a 4.50 ERA that ranked 11th in the AL.

      In 2008, they came one game short of winning the division with a 4.16 ERA that ranked 7th in the AL.

      In 2003, they won the division handily with a 4.41 ERA that ranked 7th in the AL.

      Three average (or worse) pitching staffs, three contending teams. And that's just in the last ten years. There are plenty of examples outside of the Twins, too.
      Well that's fantastic Nick, what the hell does that have to do with a 2013 season that none of us know about yet? What's the Tigers & Sox rosters gonna look like. Who's injuries will play huge factor into the division, can Willingham, Mauer, Morneau, Span and others stay healthy? Who and where are these league average pitchers coming from?

      That's great that it happened in 2009 and 2003...but what the **** does that have to do with the 2013 season?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Well that's fantastic Nick, what the hell does that have to do with a 2013 season that none of us know about yet? What's the Tigers & Sox rosters gonna look like. Who's injuries will play huge factor into the division, can Willingham, Mauer, Morneau, Span and others stay healthy? Who and where are these league average pitchers coming from?

      That's great that it happened in 2009 and 2003...but what the **** does that have to do with the 2013 season?
      I pointed out that the Sox and Tigers are competing with pretty mediocre overall stats. Offensively, the Twins are in the thick of things with other AL Central teams. Their pitching staff has been a complete letdown and is at fault for their 4th/5th place finish.

      Do you really think the Sox and Tigers are going to get significantly better next season? Neither one has much in the minors and IIRC, neither will have much money to spend, either.

      Injuries can't be predicted but on paper, the Twins can easily compete if they shore up the rotation.

      It's a tough thing to do but if it's possible, there is no reason the Twins can't compete in 2013.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Do you really think the Sox and Tigers are going to get significantly better next season? Neither one has much in the minors and IIRC, neither will have much money to spend, either.

      Injuries can't be predicted but on paper, the Twins can easily compete if they shore up the rotation.

      It's a tough thing to do but if it's possible, there is no reason the Twins can't compete in 2013.
      Neither of us know what's gonna happen with either teams roster. Maybe Mike Ilitch loses his mind again and signs everyone, who knows what to expect outta the Sox and Kenny WIlliams.

      The point is I don't see how bringing up 2003, 2009 seasons or current stats has to do with this. Do I think it's impossible...no, but do I see it happen...**** no!!
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      The Orioles made a change in 2010 that is ignored in this article.

      Before the Orioles changed managers, they were 32-73 (.302). Showalter immediately turned that around and the O's went 34-23 (.596) for the remainder of the season.

      True, they couldn't sustain it in 2011 but they did improve to 69-93 (.426) overall.

      It's true that they went from .426 last year to .560 this year and a good part of that is probably due to the pitching changes -- and LUCK -- that are discussed above.

      But I think they are also benefiting from the shake-up they made in 2010. They improved from 2010 to last year and again from 2011 to this year.

      Do you think pitching changes ALONE will allow the Twins to make that kind of improvement?

      I think some changes in leadership are also necessary.
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Do you deny that the Twins would have a chance to turn around and contend if they have a league-average pitching staff next year? If not, why are you even arguing? They don't need the same amount of luck that the O's have experienced to compete in the AL Central.
      No I don't think the Twins would contend for the division with a league average pitching staff.
      The Sox and Tigers are doing just that...

      Pitching ERA: Tigers 4th, Sox 9th, Twins 13th.

      Hitting...

      Runs Scored: Sox 5th, Twins 6th, Tigers 8th.

      And it's not as if the Sox and Tigers are going to get any better next season. Neither one has a young roster, much of a farm, or money left to spend.
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      No I don't think the Twins would contend for the division with a league average pitching staff.
      Well they've done it multiple times before so, basically, you're wrong.

      In 2009, the Twins won the AL Central with a 4.50 ERA that ranked 11th in the AL.

      In 2008, they came one game short of winning the division with a 4.16 ERA that ranked 7th in the AL.

      In 2003, they won the division handily with a 4.41 ERA that ranked 7th in the AL.

      Three average (or worse) pitching staffs, three contending teams. And that's just in the last ten years. There are plenty of examples outside of the Twins, too.
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Well that's fantastic Nick, what the hell does that have to do with a 2013 season that none of us know about yet? What's the Tigers & Sox rosters gonna look like. Who's injuries will play huge factor into the division, can Willingham, Mauer, Morneau, Span and others stay healthy? Who and where are these league average pitchers coming from?

      That's great that it happened in 2009 and 2003...but what the **** does that have to do with the 2013 season?
      I pointed out that the Sox and Tigers are competing with pretty mediocre overall stats. Offensively, the Twins are in the thick of things with other AL Central teams. Their pitching staff has been a complete letdown and is at fault for their 4th/5th place finish.

      Do you really think the Sox and Tigers are going to get significantly better next season? Neither one has much in the minors and IIRC, neither will have much money to spend, either.

      Injuries can't be predicted but on paper, the Twins can easily compete if they shore up the rotation.

      It's a tough thing to do but if it's possible, there is no reason the Twins can't compete in 2013.
      If we are trying to base our arguments on statistics, these are both solid examples of how the Twins could compete with a middle of the road rotation next year. TR has some work to do!
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