Yes, the Orioles' biggest need right now is pitching. And Mark Teixeira can't paint the black with a 98 mph fastball. But the Los Angeles Angels' first baseman and former Severna Park resident should be the Orioles' No. 1 priority this offseason.
Will he be an Oriole? Probably not, because the New York Yankees and Angels, among others, will make offers. Those two can outspend the Orioles and guarantee a contending team immediately.
Stuck in the American League East, the only way the Orioles can attract top-quality free agents is to overpay, and, in most instances, even that won't work. It certainly won't for pitchers such as CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, who will get equally big money from a contender. But Teixeira might take the overpaying lure because it accompanies the sentimentality of playing for his hometown team.
Remember, we are talking about 2010, 2011 and beyond. The Orioles might have a good offense and little pitching now, but after next season Aubrey Huff, Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora will be free agents. And only Matt Wieters is legitimately waiting in the offensive wings. Most of the club's best prospects are pitchers.
The Orioles need a middle-of-the-order slugger for the next seven-plus years. Teixeira fits, and the Orioles have an outside shot of reeling him home.
So throw the cash and the cash register at Tex.
No; pitching is the way to go
By Peter Schmuck
No one in full possession of his faculties would mind seeing hometown hero Mark Teixeira at the heart of the Orioles' lineup, and signing him as a free agent this winter would seem to be consistent with club president Andy MacPhail's original schematic for returning the franchise to some semblance of its past glory. But MacPhail also has made a point of basing his incremental decisions on the conditions "on the ground," and those conditions have changed during the 2008 season.
The Orioles could certainly use a superstar slugger, and Teixeira would fit that bill perfectly. If only the Orioles, displaying one of the most productive offensive attacks in baseball the past few months, had not spent that time proving it doesn't matter how many runs you score when you can't keep the other team from scoring more.
MacPhail is a pitching-first guy, and the team took several steps backward with a series of pitching injuries that have left manager Dave Trembley scrambling almost daily for an effective starter or a rested middle reliever. The way it stands now, they could head into spring training next year needing to fill three slots in the rotation.
That's why all those millions would be better spent signing at least one solid starting pitcher. Probably not CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets because they'll almost surely sign with contenders, but maybe somebody such as A.J. Burnett, who has an out clause in his Toronto Blue Jays contract and a wife who grew up in the area.
What do you think? Get in on the argument by commenting below.