1. What can the Orioles do to upgrade their offense?

Hold that thought. Because, maybe, just maybe, this will be addressed with a deal during spring training. So hold the thought, but not your breath. If there were one primary source of frustration this winter for the team's fans, it's that the Orioles did not add a middle-of-the-order bat, which Duquette said would be a priority. The reasoning, according to Duquette and manager Buck Showalter, is that the free-agent bats available did not seem worth the risk and cost. As for trades, potential partners wanted the Orioles' top young players in return, and that wasn't going to happen. So the Orioles will head to spring with basically the same offense they had at the end of the year, sans first baseman Mark Reynolds, who frustrated with his streakiness and frequent strikeouts. But he hit 23 homers and reached base at a better clip than most Oriole regulars. The offense shut down in the playoffs last year when it couldn't hit the longball. And instead of adding professional hitters this offseason who can get on base or a bopper in the middle who can scare the opposition and mask the OBP deficiencies, the offense remained practically status quo, with a few new reserves in the fold. The hope is that full seasons from Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold, Manny Machado and McLouth will be enough to improve on 2012.
Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.
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