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Five key questions facing the Orioles this offseason [Pictures]
For the second consecutive offseason, the Orioles don't need a major facelift to prepare for the upcoming year. But there's no question there are nips and tucks that have to occur if this team wants to get back to the playoffs.
The Orioles have an impressive core in place. All five All-Stars from 2013 -- Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy and Chris Tillman -- will be back. Of the top 12 hitters on the team in terms of plate appearances, 10 are under club control for next season.
The club's six relievers who logged the most games pitched in 2013 are under team control for 2014, as are four of the seven pitchers who made at least nine starts.
Yet there were some obvious deficiencies in this year's club. Primarily, a low on-base percentage, inconsistency in the bullpen, difficulty manufacturing runs and a rotation that couldn't continually pitch deep into games. How good the Orioles will fare in 2014 will depend, partially, on how executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter address those problem areas this winter.
Speaking with reporters recently, Duquette said that groundwork will begin this week. He is expected to meet with Showalter, managing partner Peter G. Angelos and others to discuss the blueprint for 2014.
There are also some questions for beyond 2014 that could be answered before spring training, such as whether the club will attempt to offer extensions to several core players such as Davis and Wieters. There will be no shortage of work -- and speculation -- for the Orioles this winter.
"Like every organization, there are decisions to be made in the offseason. I know what they are, just like you do," Showalter said. "The five things the Orioles have to figure out between now and next year? I've got 12, you've got five. But they may have a different level of importance in my mind than what it looks like on the surface. There is nothing too small."
For the sake of argument, here's our annual look at the most pressing five questions this offseason:
September 30, 2013