Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Nothing to get excited about...

The Orioles haven't come close to rebuilding in the 9 years since they've started losing even though their record looks a lot like it year after year.

Teams with 90 losses should at least be on their way up, right? One would think. But not when it comes to the O's. And that is why it's so hard to follow this team right now. There is nothing to get excited about.

Teams that rebuild, and do it the right way, by trading most or all of their valuable players for prospects and inexperienced players with upside, are fun to watch. You watch the team and over time a star emerges right before your eyes. And a year or two later, those players are usually the centerpiece of a team fighting to make the playoffs.

Cleveland did it with Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner. Detroit did it with Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson and Justin Verlander. The Florida Marlins are doing it right now for the second time in 10 years after winning a World Series with Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez.

Yet the Orioles stand pat each trading deadline when they should be unloading their valuable talent to rebuild. Instead of trading players like Melvin Mora, Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons, the Orioles have signed them to extensions that will likely come back to haunt them.

In the last few years, there was always a reason to at least follow the Orioles from a distance, even when they were out of contention in July. You might skip 3 games and then watch the games that Bedard or Cabrera pitched, or check the box score the morning after a night game to see how Markakis did.

Now those reasons to watch are getting smaller and smaller.

The Orioles are past the point of player development being a selling point. What good is it if the development never translates into a winning record? Sure, players like Markakis, Cabrera, and Loewen are exciting to watch, as they represent the Orioles future (albeit uncertain), but what good is it when they pitch well in a loss, or help the team win a game with a HR, only to be followed up by a long losing streak?

If we felt like all of this development was headed somewhere, we might be inclined to care when Cabrera pitches well or Markakis hits a HR. At least we would have the hope that those players would be a key part of the Orioles when they are battling for the division or the Wild Card in a year or two. But that is not the case.

Not at all.

With each Markakis HR or solid Cabrera start, one can't help but go from hopeful to hopeless. After a while, all these positives become are reminders of how tragic the Orioles are. Under the proper management, the bright spots on the Orioles would be surrounded with players capable of helping them get to the postseason. On the Orioles, they are surrounded with journeymen and aging veterans.

Of all the things wrong with the Orioles, this is perhaps the most depressing. Even after 10 years, there is still no end in sight.

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