faceoff: should the orioles sign mark teixeira?

pitching is the way to go

August 24, 2008|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.

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