The Orioles' Robert Andino is congratulated by teammate… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
Now it's up to you, Andy MacPhail.
You've got the manager you wanted in Buck Showalter, who waved a magic wand and turned the Orioles around in the past two months, even counting Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers in the season finale at Camden Yards.
You've got a core of young players who believe in the manager and are starting to believe in themselves.
And for the first time in a long while, you've got fans who seem energized and genuinely optimistic about the future.
Now it's up to you to make this team better in the offseason.
Sure, that's a lot of pressure to lay on you. But that's why you're the Orioles president of baseball operations. That's why they pay you the big bucks.
"Oh, my gosh, we're bubbling over" with optimism, said season-ticket holder Ailcey Werber, sitting behind the Orioles' dugout with her husband, Bill, on Sunday. "Now [the Orioles] have what I call credibility. [Showalter's] a baseball man. He knows what he's doing. He's tough."
Said another season-ticket holder, Linda Cook, from Glen Burnie: "There was an instant change in attitude [when Showalter took over]. They played like they could win instead of playing like they're going to lose. ÃÆÃâÃâÃâ¦ I see a much more positive attitude in all the players. I see fight in them now."
Hear that, Andy?
Is that beautiful or what?
You have fans with hope now. And why not? The Orioles went 34-23 after Showalter was hired as manager Aug. 2, when he somehow took the defibrillator paddles to this team after that awful start.
The players didn't want the season to end Sunday, and neither did the announced 23,914 fans who showed up at the Yard, even with the big Ravens-Steelers showdown on TV.
And once again the Orioles never stopped competing. They had the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning in the person of Luke Scott, who had himself some year (27 homers, 72 RBIs), didn't he?
The place was a sea of noise, with half the crowd on its feet before Scott lined out to Brandon Inge to end the season.
Now you have to find a way to capitalize on all that momentum from August and September, and all that fan interest, too. And that means making some serious moves to upgrade the team over the winter, Andy.
There's no mystery as to what the Orioles need to get better, either.
They need a proven slugger in the middle of the batting order, preferably one who can play first or third base. Another hitter with some pop in his bat wouldn't hurt, either.
And they need a veteran starter for the front of the pitching rotation, the role poor Kevin Millwood was supposed to play before a powerful curse was placed upon him and he endured the worst season of his career.
"At least they have a chance to bring some good players in now," said Lyle Kralle, 21, from St. Mary's County. "Around the league, the Orioles have more respect now that Showalter's here."
Getting back to Millwood, he was the poster boy for all that went wrong with this club from the get-go, wasn't he, Andy?
When Millwood pitched well, the Orioles looked sleep-deprived at the plate and in the field. When he didn't pitch well, they looked even worse.
But check out this stat: In the last 57games, Orioles starters made 36 quality starts and posted a 3.16 ERA. I don't know what Showalter did to change the mindset of that pitching staff. But whatever he did, it sure worked.
Can this team be competitive in the killer American League East without adding a big home run hitter or two and a solid starting pitcher? Not a chance.
I'm not even sure it could play .500 ball without those additions.
So you definitely have your work cut out for you, Andy. And you also need to decide what'll happen to the seven Orioles looking at free agency now.
From all indications, Millwood and backup infielder Julio Lugo won't be back next season. And reliever Mark Hendrickson is probably less than even money to return, too.
That means that decisions must be made on infielder Ty Wigginton, reliever Koji Uehara, outfielder Corey Patterson and shortstop Cesar Izturis.
From what we're hearing, we'll also see some changes in the coaching staff, apparently sooner rather than later, according to Showalter.
Speaking of the Orioles manager, he seemed sorry to see the season end Sunday, hinting he would be itching for spring training real soon.
He should be proud of the job he did, proud of the great turnaround he oversaw. But in typical Showalter fashion, he downplayed its significance.
"It's only going to be worthwhile if it carries over into next year and beyond," Showalter said.
So now it's up to you, Andy MacPhail. Up to you and Showalter and the owner, Peter Angelos, to make this team better.
Looks like it'll be a busy winter.
Good luck. You're going to need it.
Listen to Kevin Cowherd from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.