Grow the arms, buy the bats.

That’s what Andy MacPhail has preached since taking over as the Baltimore Orioles‘ President of Baseball Operations midway through the 2007 season.

The Orioles have traded away many veterans over the past few years to acquire plenty of young pitching, and drafted young arms as well.

Now it’s time to live up to your trademark quote, Andy. Now it’s time to buy the bats.

The Orioles are in dire need of thump in the middle of their lineup, having only had two players—Luke Scott and Ty Wigginton—reach the 20-homer mark during the 2010 season. Wigginton is due to become a free agent at the end of the postseason.

So, where should Andy turn to get the power the Orioles so sorely need? Paul Konerko.

I see Konerko as the most perfect fit of any of the available options for the Orioles to get a power bat this offseason.

Coming off one of the best years of his career, Konerko won’t be expected to reproduce the same numbers he put up this past season (.312 BA, 39 HR, 111 RBI), seeing as how he will turn 35 almost a full month before the 2011 season begins.

But there are still many reasons why he is a perfect fit in an Orioles uniform, starting with the fact that he is a right-handed slugging first baseman.

At this point, nothing would be more useful to the Orioles’ offense than to have a big righty to stick between the left-handed bats of Nick Markakis and Scott. With Scott being the Orioles biggest long ball threat in 2010, and Markakis in need of an established, feared hitter behind him, it only makes sense to do everything the Orioles’ management can do to make their offensive upgrade a right-handed one, not to mention how hitter-friendly left field in Camden Yards is to right-handed sluggers.

And not only would they be checking the power bat off of their to-do list, they’d also be getting the full-time first baseman they need, and a decent one at that.

In addition to providing on the field, Konerko would presumably do wonders in the Orioles’ clubhouse.

Konerko has always been viewed as a great clubhouse guy and a leader, and now that the young Orioles have become a family over the last year, Konerko would only strengthen that mold while bringing the exact attitude manager Buck Showalter presents of himself and expects of his players: a gamer.

Konerko is a selfless player who puts the needs of the team before the needs of himself, and isn’t happy with the way the day turned out unless his teams wins.

Given all that I’ve said, understand this: I’m not arguing that Konerko is the long-term answer at first base for the Baltimore Orioles. That would be absurd.

What I am arguing, though, is that of all the available options for them, he fits the mold perfectly at this time. Adam Dunn and Carlos Pena are both left-handed hitters who don’t hit for as high an average as Konerko, and Derrek Lee is coming off a down year, not to mention he’s older than Konerko.

Moreover, since Konerko is going to be a free agent this offseason, we wouldn’t be giving up prospects to get his team to trade him to us. He fits in with MacPhail’s philosophy of buying the big bats.

For those O’s fans out there who are hoping for a trade for Adrian Gonzalez, or a trade for someone of the same caliber, realize that it isn’t going to happen, and it wouldn’t be smart due to the amount the Orioles would need to give up to acquire a player of that magnitude.

Konerko was interested in coming to Baltimore prior to the 2005 season, when he decided to return to the Chicago White Sox for a larger contract. This time around, the Orioles can’t let that happen.

Sign him for two or three years, outbidding all of his other suitors, with the idea being that he holds down the fort and serves the purpose of the Orioles’ first baseman/clean-up hitter until the Orioles can either grow a younger full-time first baseman or go younger with a great option in the free agent/trade market in two to three years.

This signing wouldn’t be anything like MacPhail’s gambles in the past, those being the likes of Garrett Atkins and Rich Hill. No, Konerko is a very proven player and even though he will be 35 before next season, he is sure to produce for at least a few more seasons.

This is a signing that the Orioles need to make, to prove that the ownership has the young players’ and Showalter’s backs, as well as showing the rest of the AL East that they are for real.

Konerko would bring a winning attitude to a young Orioles team that has no idea what that mentality is about, and help balance a lineup in serious need of a big power bat, which is an addition from which every Orioles hitter is sure to benefit.

In addition, Konerko would give the young pitching staff the confidence that the team can supply them with the necessary run support to win a game in which they pitched well in, or let them know that they can make a mistake once in a while because the offense will be there to back them up.

Don’t let this one get away, Andy.

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