The Baltimore Orioles came into Fenway Park this past weekend at the top of the American League Wild Card standings. Despite being at the top of the standings for most of the season, many expected them to fall off at some point like they have in the past.
This didn’t happen as the Orioles have managed to put together their first winning season since 1997. Perhaps with the Red Sox looking to rebuild this offseason, they can look to the Orioles on what a winning, playoff contending roster looks like.
“We believe in what we have,” said outfielder Endy Chavez, an 11-year major league veteran, to Metro Boston. “No one was expecting our results, but we know we have the fight, heart and dedication to do what it takes to win. I think that is what has put the team in a good position to win and we’ll see what happens.”
One of the keys for the Orioles this season has been their ability to win the close games. Going into Sunday’s series finale, the Orioles were 27-8 in one-run games. After Saturday’s extra innings win it increased their extra innings win streak to 16 games.
“A lot of it has to do with the depth we have in the bullpen. We get into these extra innings games our bullpen holds them down and unerringly we get a timely hit,” said Orioles general manager and former Red Sox general manager, Dan Duquette on WEEI’s Big Show Friday afternoon.
After four seasons of finishing in last place in the American League East, Duquette was brought in as general manager to turn the franchise around.
“With the Orioles it has been about changing the culture,” Duquette said. “Buck [Showalter] has done a good job. The players that we have kept on the roster, and we’ve gone through our fair share of players, they’ve had mental toughness, are very resilient and have a short-term memory. These are the kinds of individual trails you need for ballplayers to have to build a competitive team.”
The players also have shown their support for Showalter, their manager.
“He is doing good,” Chavez said. “He knows it is very important for him to have the team that he has and control the pieces how he wants. He is doing a great job.”
Baltimore has had all of this success with a payroll of approximately $76.7 million, not having one player hitting over .300, and only having one pitcher with double-digit wins.
With the Red Sox in a position to rebuild this offseason maybe they should look to Duquette and the Orioles on how to successfully rebuild.
They did not spend a lot of money on individual players, which is the general message the Red Sox sent after their blockbuster trade in August. They have players who openly show support for their manager. They have players who can come through in the clutch with a big-time hit. And finally, they have players who are mentally tough and resilient.
Going by the Orioles blueprint, it says a lot needs to change within the Red Sox. Some players cannot return, and players need to be brought in who want to compete everyday and leave everything they have on the field. Maybe even the manager needs to be changed and a manager the players can show support and play for needs to be brought in.
The bottom line is that the Orioles are winning this year, while the Red Sox are not. In order to get back to winning again the Red Sox need to undergo some changes and with Baltimore having successfully changed itself, what better place to look for a model than from the Orioles, a team at the top of the AL East.