Strengths: Offense. The Baltimore Orioles have a very solid lineup. Assuming Manny Machado is back for opening day, the left side of the Orioles infield is second to none. I don’t think Chris Davis was a fluke, he won’t have a season quite like this past one, but he is a legit power hitter moving forward. Jonathan Schoop is a young second baseman that should make an impact at some point next season, while Matt Weiters is an above average catcher and Adam Jones is a well above average center fielder.
Weaknesses: The most glaring weakness is top level starting pitching. In fact, they could use mid-level starting pitching. In a division that has the likes of David Price (for now), CC Sabathia, Jon Lester, and R.A. Dickey at the top of rotations, projecting out an opening day starter of Miguel Gonzalez or Chris Tillman don’t exactly leave anyone shaking in their boots.
Off-Season Needs: Beyond the desperate need for starting pitching, there are two glaring needs for the Orioles. Nick Markakis is still a suitable right fielder, but left field could use a real upgrade and the DH spot is painfully weak for the O’s. Kendrys Morales would be a natural fit at DH, but considering he was offered a qualifying offer from the Mariners and signing him would cost the Orioles a first round pick, they may be best served resigning Nate McClouth and Mike Morse rather than dropping big money and a draft pick on Morales.
2014 Projection: I am a big fan of what the Orioles have done the past two years, but I see a dip in production in 2014. They could easily finish fourth in the division. They have the talent to finish around .500, but the lack of top end starting pitching and the lack of impact bats at positions of need for the Orioles leaves the upside of the team a bit tempered.