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This is part of a series of posts in which we call out all 30 teams for their wily offseason moves and tragic offseason blunders. 

Melvin MoraYou’ve gotta feel for the Orioles. Playing in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox has got to be tough. Last year, the O’s finished in fourth place, 27 games out of first.

That’s a lot of ground to make up. So it’s a safe bet the Orioles were busy this offseason, right? Well, yes. And no.

There’s busy, and then there’s busy. There’s busy like the Red Sox. This offseason, the Red Sox added the world’s best pitcher, a right fielder with 120 RBI potential and a shortstop with 30 HR potential.

There’s busy like the Yankees. The Yankees added Japan’s second best starter and a 14-game winner to an already stacked lineup.

There’s busy like the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays, who actually finished ahead of the Sox last season, added MVP candidate Frank Thomas.

And then there’s busy like the Orioles. They signed SP Steve Trachsel (who’s old), SP Jaret Wright (who’s gonna get hurt), RP Danys Baez (who’s overpaid) and 3B/1B/LF Aubrey Huff (who is going to start out ice cold before heating up). They also traded SP Rodrigo Lopez for bullpen arms Jim Miller and Jason Bursh.

So, yes, the Orioles have been busy. But it’s been quantity and not much quality.

Long story short: Sorry Orioles fans. We know you’re restless, but it’s going to be another long season.

It’s a shame that the O’s have to play in the AL East. They’d be competative in almost any other division. The team’s offense looks good, at least on paper. Second year player Nick Markakis is a star in the making, free agent acquisition Aubrey Huff still has times to live up to previously lofty expectations. Miguel Tejada is still an all-star and Melvin Mora can handle the bat, the glove and the

But then there’s the pitching. The Orioles’ pitching was so bad last year even Leo Mazzone couldn’t save it. This year the staff consists of Eric Bedard, Adam Loewen, Steve Trachsel, Daniel Cabrera and Jaret Wright, who was acquired in a trade with the Yankees. Wright can be good. But he’s more likely to be injured. The O’s are betting that, reunited with Mazzone, he will rediscover the secrets that made him a success earlier in his career with Atlanta. Meanwhile, Kris Benson, he of hot/crazy wife Anna Benson, is hurt already and probably done for the season. Ditto for non-roster invitee Jose Acevedo.

The O’s will need everything to break right in order to make a playoff push in 2007. But considering the Blue Jays have been spending and the Devil Rays have been maturing, it’s not out of the question that Baltimore could finish in last place.

Offseason Grade: B-

Acquisitions: Aubrey Huff, Jay Payton, Steve Trachsel, Jaret Wright, Jim Miller and Jason Bursh

Losses: Bruce Chen, Rodrigo Lopez

Projected Lineup, Rotation, and Closer:

2B Brian Roberts .286/.347/.410, 36 SB

3B Melvin Mora .274/.342/.391, 83 RBI

SS Miguel Tejada .330/.379/.498, 24 HR

RF Nick Markakis .291, .351, .448, 62 RBI

DH Jay Gibbons .277/.341/.458, 13 HR

1B Aubrey Huff .267/.344/.469, 21 HR

RF Jay Payton .296/.325/.418, 59 RBI

C Ramon Hernandez .275/.343/.479,23 HR

CF Corey Patterson .276/.314/.443, 45 SB

LHP Erik Bedard 15-11, 3.76

LHP Adam Loewen, 6-6, 5.37

RHP Steve Trachsel, 15-8, 4.97

RHP Daniel Cabrera, 9-10, 4.74

RHP Jaret Wright, 11-7, 4.49

CL Chris Ray, 33 SV, 3.73

- Hot Offseason Action Index -

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