This is the time of year when everybody starts wondering whether the Orioles will be going in search of late-season assistance, and it is also the time of year when manager Buck Showalter assures everyone that he's more than satisfied with the club's current array of talent.
What else is he supposed to say?
The Orioles, like just about every other club in the parity era, have specific needs that could be filled with the right midseason trade or two, even though they have gotten stronger and healthier with the returns of Matt Wieters and Jonathan Schoop. They've already shown up in some starting-pitcher speculation and could have some interest in beefing up their on-base potential, but Showalter doesn't like to cast doubt on the ability of the guys he already has.
"I don't ever look at a trade or whatever," he said Saturday. "I think we have the people here to compete and that's the way I'm always going to look at it. I'm not going to talk about a trade. I just want to keep them in position to be there physically and do what they can do. When we get through with the [All-Star] break, it's push time. Not that we haven't been doing that. I just want to make sure you position yourself for the long haul."
Their recent slump notwithstanding, the Orioles appear to be configured well enough to go the distance in the American League East. They have enough healthy starting pitchers and enough pop in the lineup to grind it out in the sport's most balanced division, but it's fair to question whether they set up as well for the postseason as they did last season.
Showalter acknowledges that there is work to be done to upgrade the performance of the team, but he isn't ready to concede that the only way to do that is by going outside the organization.
"You can say that about any phase of it," he said. "You're never perfect. I dwell on the people we have here and fixing it from within. We're going to try to fix everything from within. That's our job and that's our challenge and we can do it. I'm never going to give into that and I think the players know that, too.
"That's where we're going. That's who we are and I think we've showed that. If Dan [Duquette] comes up with something that fits and works, then we'll make that adjustment. But I don't dwell on that much."
Duquette has shown that he can pull off a midseason deal. He certainly made a significant impact on the Orioles' 2014 division-title drive when he acquired premier setup man Andrew Miller from the Boston Red Sox and outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the Chicago White Sox. The question this year is whether the talent he has given up in deals over the past year, including the offseason trade for Travis Snider, has left him with the wherewithal to make a solid acquisition without impacting the organization's long-term player development.
Though Showalter said that the deal that sent Eduardo Rodriguez to Boston for Miller didn't necessarily impair the Orioles' ability to make a dynamic trade this year, it should be obvious that the O's are not in nearly the same position to deal that they were a year ago. They have other good young pitchers, but top prospects Dylan Bundy (shoulder) and Hunter Harvey (elbow) are both on the shelf and Mike Wright did not do enough in his six-start major league audition to be a hot commodity at midseason.
Obviously, every club has enough minor league talent to cobble together a package for a major stretch-run addition. The question is how much is going to be left afterward.
"If you look down to what you would trade, it comes back to who are you and how you have to do it," Showalter said. "Dan knows this. I don't sit around saying, 'We've got to have this, we've got to have that.' I realize how hard the job is and the way it would jeopardize the way we have to do it and how we do it in the future."
In other words, don't get your hopes up too high. What you see right now is very likely what you're going to get the rest of the season.