Some time before new calendars are posted in offices and kitchen walls around town, a potentially significant summit will take place, presumably in the Orioles offices in the warehouse.
The outcome of that meeting may go a long way toward whether the Birds’ 2018 looks anything like their 2017.
Center fielder Adam Jones, the acknowledged leader of players, has said that he wants to meet with the guy who signs the players’ paychecks, namely principal owner, Peter Angelos.
The message that Jones supposedly wants to convey is to plead with Angelos to keep most of the current band together with a couple of new lead singers.
Jones believes the Orioles, who missed this year’s playoffs have the nucleus of a club that can compete in 2018, despite that the team dropped 14 more games this year than last.
That fall knocked the Birds, a wild card team in 2017, all the way to the basement of the American League East, a place they haven’t perched in six years.
A dreadful final four weeks of the season saw the Orioles lose 20 of their last 25 games of the year.
In truth, the season was likely lost in June and July, when the starting pitching collapsed.
Dylan Bundy, one of the gems of the Orioles’ minor league system, provided evidence that he will be a key contributor next season. Kevin Gausman was spotty, but could be counted at the back of the team’s rotation in 2018.
Any attempt by the Orioles to bring back either Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez should be met with scorn, bordering on ridicule, neighboring on flat out laughter. The pair was nothing short of dreadful and should be allowed in Oriole Park only if they buy tickets.
That brings us to Chris Tillman. The right hander had been the mainstay of the starting rotation for years, but missed the early part of the season with an arm injury. Tillman never seemed to find his groove and had his worst season as an Oriole.
Ironically, Tillman is a free agent, and the Orioles will have to decide if this year was a one-off or if they want to look in another direction for an ace.
That’s what Jones is expected to talk to Angelos about. He may still believe in Tillman as a pitcher, but he likely recognizes that the Birds need at least one and probably two starting pitchers.
And while starting pitching is the biggest Baltimore baseball need, it’s hardly the only one to be addressed.
Though he says he won’t advocate, Jones should consider asking Angelos if he plans to resign third baseman Manny Machado.
Machado, who is under the team’s control in 2018, can be a free agent the following year. In order to maintain credibility with the fanbase, Angelos must sign Machado to a long term deal, no matter the dollars.
Jones needs to tell Angelos that. Jones could also put in a good word for himself, since he, like Machado, will be free to bolt after next year.
If you’re an Orioles fan, and you don’t want to see a repeat of 2017, you ought to hope that Peter Angelos is of a mind to listen to what Adam Jones has to say.
And that’s how I see it for this week.