Not yet the time for Orioles to spend

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Thanks in large part to the flood of talent brought in though the Erik Bedard trade, things are certainly looking up for the Orioles. Matt Wieters is going to be a superstar behind the plate, the Nolan Reimold-Adam Jones-Nick Markakis outfield should be plenty productive and is under complete control through 2013 and Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman are two of the game’s very best pitching prospects.
It isn’t yet, though, the time to try to surround the impressive young core with quality veterans. The Orioles needs simply don’t mesh with this year’s free-agent market. Matt Holliday and Jason Bay wouldn’t make nearly as much sense as Mark Teixeira did a year ago. Top talents such as John Lackey and Chone Figgins would have to be overpaid to come to Baltimore, and besides Aroldis Chapman, there isn’t much in the way of younger free agents with upside.
The Orioles aren’t one or two players away from toppling the Yankees and Red Sox, so biding their time will continue to be the right strategy. At the rate the team is developing talent, Baltimore could soon again become a preferred destination for free agents. With several top pitchers potentially available, the club might actually have a shot at Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Brandon Webb or John Beckett after next season.
In the meantime, the Orioles should look to go short term with a late-game reliever, a middle-of-the-rotation starter and a corner infielder. It’d be awfully nice if Adrian Beltre fell into their laps, but Carlos Delgado, Hank Blalock and Troy Glaus are interesting one-year options to help out at first or third. Try Jim Johnson as a starter and sign Kevin Gregg or J.J. Putz to battle Koji Uehara and the youngsters for the closer’s role. Look into Justin Duchscherer and Todd Wellemeyer as cheap rotation options.
It’s 2011 that the Orioles should be thinking about. Wieters will be established as one of the game’s top-five catchers, and with any luck, they’ll have come up with three effective starters from the group of Matusz, Tillman, Jeremy Guthrie, Brad Bergesen, Johnson, David Hernandez, Jake Arrieta and Troy Patton. That’s a team that might be just one or two veterans away from threatening the AL East’s elite.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.