The Orioles never finished lower than third place between 2012 and 2016. They won the AL East once, and never finished below .500. Baltimore was a consistent force and a constant threat to https://www.rangersedges.com/texas-rangers/joey-gallo-jerseycompete within the division.Those days appear over. The Orioles won just 79 games last year, and seem destined for irrelevance again. Baltimore currently owns the third-worst record in baseball. Manny Machado and Adam Jones, the faces of the franchise, are in the final years of their contracts. This era of Orioles baseball is coming to the most unceremonious of ends.MORE: How MLB players have embraced psychologyBaltimore has been flat-out bad this year. Their offense has looked anemic beyond the outstanding contributions of Machado. The pitching staff is a house of horrors outside of Dylan Bundy. Alex Cobb looks like a pitcher who didn’t get to go to spring training. Chris Tillman looks like he’s at the end of his rope. Andrew Cashner looks like Andrew Cashner.This looks for all the world like a team hurtling towarda sell-off before the trade deadline. What they do there will in large part determine the future of the franchise. How did the Orioles get to this point?Last year’s 90-lo s team was a middling offensive squad paired with the fourth-worst team ERA in baseball. Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez combined for roughly 40 percentof the team’s innings. Gausman had the lowest ERA of the group at 4.68. The rotation has been just as bad this year, and the futility has spread to the bullpen. The offense has stalled as well, in part because of injuries to Jonathan Schoop, Mark Trumbo and Tim Beckham.The organization’s failure to develop or acquire a meaningful amount of quality starting pitching has taken its toll. The Orioles boasted a powerful offense when they were at their best of late, but the team was also buoyed by worthy contributions from pitchers like Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Hammel. There wasn’t a true ace in the group (Tillman found his way onto an All-Star team) but they pitched well.That good pitching has largely evaporated. Bundy is an unquestionable succe s, in no small part due to the efforts of the team’s medical and rehabilitation staff, and Gausman has had stretches of succehttps://www.rangersedges.com/texas-rangers/delino-deshields-jersey s. Yet pitchers like Miley, Cashner and Yovani Gallardo are supplemental arms at best, and have been part of the major moves made by Baltimore to improve their rotation.The addition of Cobb is certainly well-founded, but signing him at the 11th hour has had bad consequences. Cobb has a track record of pitching well in the AL East. He’s a quality starter and the sort of pitcher any team would like to have. His lack of a full spring training regimen has helped crater Baltimore’s season. He will likely regain his form with more reps and could be a valuable contributor in years to come, but as of right now, he’s just another problem.A more pre sing i sueis the Orioles‘ failure to produce starters since Bundy and Gausman. Pitchers from their system have succeeded elsewhere (Zach Davies,for instance), not to mention howJake Arrieta became a Cy Young winner after he left Baltimore.Part of it is poor drafting and development. Part of it is poor health, especially on the part of Hunter Harvey. Part of it is a mystifying unwillingne s to spend internationally, which closes off a major source of talent to a team that’s trying to compete with the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox.MORE: Ex-Oriole Nick Markakis could be on track for 3,000 hitsThe Baltimore farm isn’t without merit. Prospects Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays hold some promise, but the remaining pieces look more like depth than future everyday players. A Machado trade would net quite a lot of talent and would do wonders for the state of the system. However, trading Machado would be as good a sign as any that the Orioles don’t anticipate that they Jason Grilli Jersey ‚ll be able to re-sign him this coming winter. It could simply be that Machado prefers to play elsewhere, but Baltimore hasn’t exactly shown that it’s the sort of teamwilling to play in the same financial league as the Cubs and Yankees.That lack of spending has helped cut the Orioles off from getting an ace pitcher, and it’s probably going to make them lose one of the best players in baseball. Baltimore is a smaller market, and Forbes recently ranked the Orioles as just the 21st-most valuable team in baseball. But something has to give for the Orioles. Just how quickly the Orioles can contend again will depend largely on how succe sful the Machado trade is.It’s worth noting that the Dodgers suddenly have a blatant need at shortstop following the news that Corey Seager will need Tommy John surgery. Los Angeles still boasts the prospects nece sary to pull this kind of deal off, and the Orioles would be bargaining from a position of power.Baltimore will pick near the top of next year’s draft, and po sibly the year after that. Judging by Ken Rosenthal’s recent reporting at The Athletic, the front office may look radically different soon. The team is at a cro sroads. The good news is that, theoretically, there’s nowhere to go but up.