SCHMUCK: With trade deadline looming, Duquette, Showalter remain coy about plans
The Toronto Blue Jays might have altered the balance of power in the American League East with the acquisition of premier power-hitting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but there was no indication Tuesday that the deal had ramped up pressure on the Orioles to make a dynamic midseason move of their own.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette continues to insist that he remains focused on improving the club as it inches closer to Friday's deadline for completing trades without passing players through waivers. Manager Buck Showalter remains coy about the deadline out of deference to the players on his current roster, but everyone knows that the Orioles could use help in the outfield and some additional pitching depth.
"In my position, coveting other people's players, that means there is not a 26-, 27-man roster," Showalter said. "If you take somebody, somebody goes away. And that's the last thing I want players to be thinking about."
Of course, everyone also knows that Duquette used his best trade chip at this time last year when he traded well-regarded pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox for left-handed reliever Andrew Miller. So, the reality of the situation has tempered trade-related expectations and engendered a "we're-good-enough" attitude in the clubhouse.
"If I didn't think that, I wouldn't be here," center fielder Adam Jones said. "I'd ask to be traded myself. I think we've got the right guys in here. We've got a good team, man. We play together — offense, defense, pitching. I think every team says that, but I really believe that here. We've got some great guys in here and some guys who have had a taste of winning and they understand what that taste is."
The problem, however, is that the Orioles haven't won enough during the first four months of the season to keep pace with the surprising New York Yankees. And now the Blue Jays have served notice that they are willing to do whatever it takes to compete for either the division title or one of the AL wild-card playoff berths.
It's fine to talk tough for the benefit of your current players, but Duquette really does need to do something — at the very least — to address the inconsistent offense. The Orioles have gotten no consistent production from either corner-outfield position after failing to re-sign free agents Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis last winter.
Jones has learned well under Showalter. He saw how much the acquisition of Miller solidified the Orioles bullpen last year and helped them run away with the division title, but he knows that every new arrival takes a roster spot from a current teammate.
"I think we have the pieces in this room, but small moves always help," he said. "We're in a fight right now for a playoff spot and I hope it goes down all the way to September. So if we're fortunate enough to make a move that benefits our team — not just right now but in the coming years also — that would be a good move. I think we've got a lot of great guys in this clubhouse and I trust all 25 men that are here right now, but I understand the business of it. If we have a chance to improve, we should try and do something to improve the team."
That's saying a lot for a guy who's still smarting from the club's decision to release veteran Delmon Young. The Orioles already have had to make some painful moves to alleviate a roster that has not had nearly the option flexibility of previous years. Jones still doesn't agree with that move and feels that it did impact team chemistry.
"It's a change," he said. "That's what we see it as — a change, and it's a big change. You get rid of Delmon, Delmon's not a young guy. He's been around for a long time, been on a lot of winning teams, had postseason success six straight postseasons. I don't need to toot the guy's horn, but he was an instrumental player in our dugout and our clubhouse."
The Orioles appear to have pulled out of their lengthy July slump, but they have a lot of catching up to do. The next few days may tell whether they will have to do it with or without outside help.
"If we can get something that can help our team, cool, but I think we've got the guys here right now — if they want to get on board," Jones said. "I think we can make a run at this thing."