Orioles should be wary of trying a quick fix

INSIDE PITCH

July 01, 1995|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

This is the season for the favorite pastime of what used to be called America's Favorite Pastime.

All over the country, people are playing, or trying to play "Let's Make A Deal." This little game comes complete with a subtle warning: "Buyer Beware."

A team like the Toronto Blue Jays, on the down side of greatness, ponders the possibility of a total breakup, while others are looking to plug a hole or buy some time. Another handful, the wanna-be contenders, are looking for one player who can put them over the top.

Somewhere in between are the Orioles, a team with championship aspirations that has displayed only mediocre ability. Like most teams, they've suffered their share of injuries, but that doesn't totally explain the lackadaisical performance to date.

There is growing evidence that suggests the Orioles, as constituted, simply aren't good enough. And it's becoming increasingly more obvious that the American League East, as a whole, has slipped considerably.

In these situations, there is a strong tendency to join those playing "Let's Make A Deal." It rarely works, but that doesn't stop teams from trying. "Give me your young, untested and inexpensive for my aged, experienced and high-priced," is the favorite sales pitch.

And the Orioles are natural targets for the hucksters trying to peddle overpriced goods. They should be wary: It won't work.

The Orioles are not going to win a division title as the result of a trade. They may acquire a few more patches for the quilt, but the thread has to come from within. It's getting dangerously close to the midway point of the season, and they have yet to demonstrate they can compete with the league's better teams.

Perhaps that will change when Kevin Brown and Ben McDonald return to the starting rotation, but there are no guarantees. And ,, the last thing the Orioles can afford to do is strip themselves of promising young players in an attempt to salvage something from this so-far disappointing season.

If the Orioles are going to contend, which is still possible, they'll have to make do with what they have. They went into the season with what was supposed to be the best starting rotation in the AL, a solid lineup and a questionable bullpen.

They've made strides with their relief pitching, thanks to unlikely sources such as Terry Clark, Mark Lee and Mike Oquist. The bullpen has actually developed into one of the team's strengths, which may speak volumes about the club's overall condition.

Other than rookie center fielder Curtis Goodwin and unheralded third baseman Jeff Manto, who is on the disabled list, the Orioles do not have a player who is playing better than anticipated.

If the performance level doesn't change significantly, then changing faces won't help.

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