The Baltimore Orioles shocked the baseball world by winning 93 games and beating the favored Texas Rangers in the wild-card playoff last year, breaking a streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons that dated back to the Cal Ripken Jr. era. The AL East has long been a brutal division to compete in, but the usual powers in Boston and New York have finally begun to show signs of vulnerability, and Tampa Bay has to overcome the losses of James Shields and B.J. Upton. At long last, the timing would have appeared right this winter for the Orioles to capitalize on their success and take advantage of what might be a small window of opportunity.
That's clearly the way the Toronto Blue Jays saw things, making big splashes in trades with the Miami Marlins and New York Mets, but Baltimore general manager Dan Duquette chose a different, much quieter path. The Orioles didn't sign a single new player to a major league contract this winter, and even the team's trading activity merely netted them bit players like Yamaico Navarro and Trayvon Robinson.
The lack of action was most notable in the team's unstable rotation, where 12 different pitchers made at least two starts for the team last season, and only Wei-Yin Chen made more than 20. Rather than attempting to import a stabilizing presence, Duquette decided to stay with his various internal options for the rotation.
Despite the playoff berth, the Orioles outscored their opponents by only seven runs -- good for an expected record of 82-80 -- and much of the 2012 magic in Baltimore was built on a record-setting 29-9 record in one-run games. That's good for a fantastic story for a fan base which desperately needed one, but it's not indicative of their true talent level and almost certainly not sustainable going forward.
For this reason, Duquette has been criticized for not making a splash, But when you examine the three courses of action he had this winter, he made the right choice.