Some baseball axioms are so shopworn that you wonder if they really mean anything anymore, but the one about never having enough good pitching is as true today as it was back in the 19th century when some ancient baseball executive said it for the first time.
If you doubt this, you might want to place a call to the 404 area code and ask anyone in the Atlanta Braves baseball operations department if they could use a few more good pitchers.
Or you could drop a call on the Arizona Diamondbacks, who lost their top starter just days before he was scheduled to open the season against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Australia.
Major League Baseball is in the midst of an elbow injury epidemic.
The Braves were forced to jump into the Ervin Santana derby last week when it became apparent that they would be without starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy for extended periods.
The Diamondbacks had to replace Patrick Corbin at the top of their rotation and fear that he — like Medlen, and perhaps Beachy — may require Tommy John ligament reconstruction surgery. And the Oakland Athletics announced Monday that top starter Jarrod Parker will undergo that procedure and be lost for 2014.
Suddenly, when you hear someone say that the Orioles' organizational pitching roster features more depth than quality, it sounds like a compliment.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette and his staff have spent the past six months looking high and low for pitching help, as well as additional depth in other areas, at times evoking public ridicule for some of the marginal players signed over the course of a questionable offseason.
That all changed after the Orioles opened spring training and Duquette went on a free-agent spending spree to add quality starter Ubaldo Jimenez, Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon and Cy Young reclamation project Johan Santana to a staff that already featured four experienced major league starters and some very promising pitchers in development.
Don't misunderstand. It's still fair to question whether the Orioles have enough top-flight pitching talent to win the tough, pitching-rich American League East, but there should be some comfort in the fact that the front office appears to have insulated the club against the possibility of a serious in-season loss.
Manager Buck Showalter likes to knock on any available wood whenever someone points out that the Orioles have made it through a month of spring training without anybody falling out of the rotation or projected bullpen. He has been around long enough to know that anything can happen at any time, but he has to sleep easier knowing that he could plug Zach Britton or top prospect Kevin Gausman into the rotation, if necessary, and has enough extra candidates for the back of the bullpen to make the final roster cuts painful.
Duquette already has enjoyed a measure of vindication for waiting out the free-agent market and signing Jimenez and slugger Nelson Cruz to favorable contracts. His offseason obsession with repopulating the pitching roster could pay off again if Yoon is the real deal and Santana — who won the AL Cy Young Award in 2004 and 2006 — is able to come back at midseason from extensive shoulder surgery.
The Orioles also are looking forward to the return of hard-throwing prospect Dylan Bundy, who is in the latter stages of his recovery from Tommy John surgery and might be ready to help the major league club in June or July.
So, while emphasizing the club's organizational pitching depth might seem like damning with faint praise, the combination of the Orioles' terrific offensive potential and historically efficient defense make that pitching depth almost as important as overall talent.
That's why Duquette was still in play for Ervin Santana when the Braves were forced back into the market by their unfortunate injury situation. Santana was not a perfect fit for Camden Yards, but he is a solid starter who would have given the Orioles even more depth and roster flexibility.
Apparently, you really can't have enough.