Monday, November 24, 2008

Throwing One Under The Bus...

Over the past few days, a lot of people have reacted in let's say in a negative fashion -- especially on the internet and on sports talk radio -- as to what the Orioles are doing so far with the free agent market. Of course, the man at the top -- Andy MacPhail -- is getting the brunt of the criticism for being, um, "too slow".

With the exception of a few years, the notion of a "winning" Oriole team since 1990 has not existed and that's why a change was made in the middle of last season.

MacPhail was hired by Peter Angelos -- with a nudge from commissioner Bud Selig -- to try to restore the Baltimore franchise back to prominence. So far, I'd say he's done a decent job and of course his two most notable deals involved the trade of Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada in exchange for prospects and everyday major leaguers (Adam Jones, serviceable Luke Scott, George Sherrill).

Despite the changes to the roster and early success in 2008, the Orioles only finished with 68 wins. Considering how bad most though the team would be in the media, I thought things were going in right direction in light of the final six weeks.

However, after 11 losing seasons -- fans are restless -- especially with hometown players Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett on the market. Some fans want deals made (now) and the Orioles to be super aggressive although much very little has taken place in terms of transactions beside talk. Add to that, the situation with extensions for Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, or not moving a few players -- you've got the seeds of discontent.

Whether or not we sign a marquee name or extended anyone, this much I am sure of -- MacPhail has a pretty good track record, and he should be given a chance to do his job. He's only been in town for about a year-and-half, and it's unrealistic despite signing Wieters along with the big names on the market for the team to improve -- especially being that the Orioles play in one of the toughest divisions in all of sports.

What has happened with the Baltimore Orioles over the past decade did not happen overnight -- it was a combination of bad drafts, limited player development, players not working out & bad free agent moves that have led to this state.

Honestly, it's not going to be fixed overnight, either. I expect at least two or three seasons to pass by before the team returns to respectability -- if we assume it all works out. If we get either Teixeira or any big name -- that's wonderful -- however, to build a consistent winner, spending on the market can help immensely, but you have to build an organization from the ground up.

Rebuilding is going to take time & a lot of patience, but at this point, do fans have it with the team and Andy MacPhail?

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Matthew Taylor said...

Good post. I agree that patience is key no matter how many losing seasons the team has experienced. Quick fixes via free agency got us a great run in '97 but started us down the system-depleting path we've been on ever since. I'm one of those who thinks the '96 Wild Card, fueled by Angelos's refusal to deal big names for young talent at the trade deadline, is what started the slide and instituted a dangerous, short-sighted organizational philosophy.

Teixeira and Burnett would add off-season intrigue and give the franchise some buzz, both of which are good things, but the signings wouldn't necessarily make us a .500 franchise much less a contender. Not to mention that overpaying for Burnett would not be a wise investment.

Sign Markakis. Look for reasonable trade deals that offer young talent. Patch up some holes on the current team. Get a couple of lower-profile free agents, including a veteran pitcher who can mentor the younger guys. Hope for the best on the field and see if the deals look even better - and they will - come the trade deadline.

It's not the most exciting approach, but the O's should know by now that roto-ball doesn't work when it comes to building a winner. They can overspend on a big free-agent, preferably a big bat rather than an arm, when they're closer to being a contender. Now is not the time.

Anonymous said...

Sign Luke Scott to a 3-4 year, 10-13MM deal. Anchor the outfield with Adam Jones, and Adam Markakis. Then go shopping for a shortstop and pitching. Scott will be a proven performer, as he has continued to improve every season. Soon enough, you'll have an outfield that hits 80-100 homers per year to help strengthen the offense.

McPhail needs to step up, sign the young talent to 3-5 year deals, and throw some dollars at pitching. The commitment to excellence is just as important as the talent they pick up. Spend some money, glue a team together for 4-5 years, and start winning.


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