I don’t think an AL East team with the Orioles’ revenues, no matter how well run, can compete year in and year out for the post-season — so long as the NYYs and RS are also competently run. There’s too much difference in revenues, especially since the Nats came along to eat up a big chunk, and a high-spending chunk, of the Orioles’ fan base.
One mistake (in my judgment) that is commonly made is to compare teams’ MLB payrolls, which are readily available. But paying its major-league talent is not the only way in which a team invests in its immediate and future on-field success. Teams invest in bonuses and salaries paid to non-major leaguers, including international free agents, in scouting ML teams, minor leaguers, other teams’ MiL players, prospective draftees, and international free agents, in signing and paying draftees and free agents, in front office personnel, and resources, in minor league managers, coaches, in U.S. and Latin American training facilities., and in other things I’m not aware of or am forgetting. We don’t look at those numbers because they’re not available to us. We do know that the NYYs and RS have a lot of money to spend on those things and do spend a lot more on some of them than the Orioles. (I think I’ve found a way to make some rough estimates of teams’ total expenditures, and I hope I can post something in a couple of weeks, after I get back from a trip.)
To me, the bottom line is that the have-not teams in the AL East (and to a lesser degree in the NL West and NL Central) can compete for the post-season, but certainly not every year and probably not consistently. To compete, they need to hoard talent that will be productive at about the same time, sell off valuable talent whose productivity doesn’t coincide, and be lucky — or at least, not to be too unlucky — in trades, draft picks, signing international free agents, and avoiding key injuries and players’ slumps/collapses. To succeed in doing that, it will help for teams like the Orioles to operate and have important decisions made by persons with intelligence, up-to-date knowledge and understanding about how to win baseball games, and executive ability.