Monday, July 30, 2007

Spotlight on MacPhail

Tomorrow marks the 2007 season trade deadline, but as Oriole fans, let's not kid ourselves. Nothing major is going to happen if anything happens at all.

Mark Teixeira has all ready been traded to the Braves, where he could quite possibly finish his career. Players like Bedard and Roberts, who could get back a huge return, won't be traded either.

But that doesn't mean that this trade deadline can't still be effective.

If Andy MacPhail can find someone to take Steve Trachsel and Jay Payton off our hands, then he needs to pull the trigger, regardless of the players we get back. We simply need these players gone because they are taking up valuable roster spots that players like Garrett Olson and Jon Knott can fill for a fraction of the cost.

Olson, who had a short stint with the O's earlier this season, is a potential starter who needs experience. Plus he is a LHP, which would go great with Bedard, Loewen and Burres as 2008 rotation candidates. Might as well see what the kid's got now, rather than later.

Then there is Jon Knott, the much-ballyhooed MiL slugger who has had his cup off coffee twice with the Orioles and then had it dumped down the drain in favor of light-hitting utility men like Brandon Fahey and Luis Hernandez.

No one is saying that Jon Knott will turn out to be the next Jack Cust. Hell, he may not even be the next Chris Richard. But the Orioles are foolish to have such a hitter in their system and not at least give the guy a chance to prove himself. With this team's offense, Knott could be a cheap solution at DH in 2008, especially if Millar is traded or Gibbons continues to struggle.

And you don't have to stop there either. Daniel Cabrera has frustrated us long enough. See if his potential can still fetch a decent positional prospect, maybe a prospect with as much potential as Cabrera, but one with as many disappointments. Who knows, a change of scenery may help both players.

Then there is Millar, the O's favorite veteran presence who unlike many "veteran presence" players in the past, Millar has actually performed this season. It wouldn't be a crime to hold onto Millar and actually bring him back next season, but Millar is the kind of player a contending team would love to have down the stretch. He keeps things light and he can still hit. And contenders with a shot at the World Series may overpay to get a guy like Millar for a few months.

So there you have it. The Orioles won't make a lot of noise this trade deadline, but they can set themselves up nicely for 2008 just by getting rid of some players in order to give some younger ones a look.

And using the last few months of the season as a try-out for the next season is something they've never done -- but should.

And with Andy MacPhail running things now, it's the perfect opportunity to start. Or else the fans will get the message loud and clear.

People may come and go, but the results will still be the same.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

You're Bedarded

Here we go again...

A reliable poster on the Orioles Hangout message board relayed a troubling story about Erik Bedard from his contact yesterday evening. It went like this...

During the offseason the Orioles approached Bedard and his agent with a long term deal. I dont have the specifics of the deal, but apparently it was a lowball offer. Duquette was bascially the puppet in the whole thing because Bedards people countered and Duq had to check with Angelos to see if it worked. It took so much time, Bedard said F it and said to the his agent that he will play out his contract and and any long term deal they offered he will shoot it down. It has to be REALLY good for him to consider he said. He isnt happy with how the negotiations went.

You don't need to have a photographic memory to remember what happened to the recent players who'd have been lowballed by the Orioles. Palmeiro and Mussina both took the fastest train out of town. Guerrero and Delgado would have probably gone to play in Japan rather than sign here. Derek Lee, who was negotiating an extension with the Orioles after a trade had been agreed to between the Orioles and Marlins also said "No thanks", and BJ Ryan went to Toronto. But hey, their dollar is almost as good as ours now.

Will Bedard be the next to leave? If you're into reading tea leaves, then yes. Don't go rushing out to purchase an Erik Bedard jersey. Studying Bedard from a distance, it doesn't appear that he's attached to Baltimore. Yes, he probably does enjoy not having a huge spotlight on him, the way he would if he were pitching in Boston or New York. He loves giving interviews as much as High Pitch Eric on the Howard Stern Show loves dead fish.

But Bedard probably wants to play closer to home, which would be Toronto, since his hometown of Navan is about a 4.5 hour drive away. And with Toronto recently breaking open the checkbook, you don't have to strain your brain much to imagine Bedard in a Blue Jays jersey in a couple of years.

So here's what the Orioles should do.

1. Continue to work with Bedard. Show them that they've changed and that Angelos is not calling the shots anymore. After all, isn't this what the Andy MacPhail hiring meant? Bedard is special, so blow him away with an offer. $60 million over 4 years sounds about right for a pitcher who is quickly becoming one of the most dominating lefties in the game.

2. If he still rejects any offer to sign with the Orioles, trade him next year if they're out of contention. The Indians did something similar with Bartolo Colon in the 2002 season and they helped rebuild their team by making that trade and getting Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore from the Montreal Expos.

But whatever you do, don't let him play out his contract and have him walk the way we've done so many times in the past. Yes, we did get draft picks for letting veteran players leave in free agency, but that's a crap shoot. Trading for advanced prospects is a much safer bet.

I for one, wish we didn't have to deal with this situation at all. Bedard has become the ace the Orioles have desperately needed ever since Mussina left and now it looks like we'll lose Bedard too. But these are the Orioles we're talking about.

It just comes with the territory.

Holy Cal

Leave it to the Bad Oriole to rain on the Cal Ripken Hall of Fame send-off ceremony tonight at Camden Yards.

Don't get me wrong. Cal Ripken is my favorite baseball player of all time. I grew up watching him. On the baseball field, I wanted to wear number 8.

In short, I wanted to to be him.

But I can't help but get the same sinking feeling every time the Orioles trot out one of their former greats. Yes, tonight's ceremony is legit. It's not like tonight is Boog Powell bobblehead night. Cal is being inducted into the Hall of Fame this Sunday. I wish I was going myself, but plans fell through so I'll have to watch it on TV.

That said, it's time for the Orioles to start making new memories instead of dredging up old ones and charging an admittance fee for the nostalgia. Cal, Brooks, Palmer, Boog... all of these guys are Orioles greats... but the Orioles rely too much on them.

Tonight will be emotional, watching Cal address the very fans who watched him throughout his career right before he heads off to Cooperstown. But this fan can't help but wonder when we're actually going to have something to cheer about that didn't occur 20 years ago.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Plan for second half? Listen to the fans.

Would it hurt the Baltimore Orioles to listen to the fans?

OK, I’m not talking about the fans who say “Fire Angelos and sign A-Rod.” That’s never going to happen.

But would it hurt the team to listen to the sensible fans, the ones who hang out on message forums and debate endlessly over the make-up of the team?

Let’s take a look at how the Orioles’ way of doing things has worked during the first half of the season.

They’re 38-49 which is good for 15 games out of first place. The season was technically over by June, just like it has been for years. The team has wasted up to 4 spots on its roster, the bullpen has blown more games than it has saved and the offense has struggled to score runs since Opening Day.

If this were any other line of business, the people in charge of the Baltimore Orioles would have been fired a long time ago. But these Orioles still remain largely the same. The same players are still playing. The same general managers are still managing. And the same coaches are still coaching.

And after a disaster of a first half, the Orioles have only fired their manager (Sam Perlozzo) and hired another front office guy (Andy MacPhail) who will likely create more red tape than cut through it. And while the team and die-hard fans would probably tell you that these are major moves that will lead the team back into contention over the next 3 years, to me it looks more like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic than anything else.

After the last 10 years can you blame me?

And that’s why I wonder if the team should give in and do what fans want them to do over the course of the second half.

Most of the things I hear on are sensible. They are moves that should have been made way back in spring training.

After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Paul Bako and Brandon Fahey have no business being on the Orioles roster and minor league players like Jon Knott and J.R. House deserve to be. (House, by the way, was talked out of leaving the club. I’m guessing they promised him some playing time with the Orioles this season but who the hell knows anymore.)

Most fans would also say that it’s about time we cut bait with players like Jay Gibbons and Corey Patterson and trade players like Kevin Millar, Melvin Mora and Steve Trachsel for just about anything we can get in return.

But this is the Orioles we’re talking about. They’ll probably do nothing. Matter of fact, they will do nothing, which is why it’s time to start listening to the fans.

But that’s just another thing that will never happen. Even though it should.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

First half. Half Empty

The Orioles closed out a disappointing first half to the 2007 season with a 2-1 loss to the Texas Rangers that pretty much summed up their season so far.

The hitting is shit and the starting pitching has been better than expected.

And that only makes the 2007 season that more disappointing. When teams have decent starting pitching, they usually hang around until the end of the season, figthing for a playoff spot.

Not the Orioles.

The $42 million dollar bullpen has been a waste. The offense can't score runs. And the Orioles continuously make the wrong roster moves.

And finally, someone other than the fans got frustrated and did something about it.

J.R. House, the minor league slugging catcher, who deserved to be in Baltimore over back-up catcher Paul Bako from opening day asked for his release this weekend and the Orioles gave it to him. Expect to see House on a major league team not as stupid as the Orioles sometime soon.

It became painfully obvious early on that the Orioles would rather waste time with light-hitting utility men and back-up catchers rather than find out if House deserved to be in the majors. And as the season become more and more of a lost cause, failure to call up House only enraged O's fans to the point of pulling their hair out.

Why, in the middle of another lost season, are the Orioles wasting time on players who are no good instead of finding out if the deserving players in the minors can be part of the future?

It's just becoming more and more obvious as time wears on. Managers may come and go, Andy MacPhails may be hired and called saviour, but it's still the same shit different season in Baltimore.

I know MacPhail is new on the job and all, but Marvin the Martian could have landed on Earth yesterday and known what was wrong with the Orioles today. What MacPhail is waiting for is beyond me. And until he starts making changes, those changes aren't going to happen.

So don't tell me that hiring MacPhail is a "change" in and of itself.

And so it goes. These are the days of our Baltimore Orioles. It's the All Star Break and the Orioles are 11 games below .500 and 15 games out of first place.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go see that cool new summer movie, Minority Report.

Oh wait, it's not 2002. Well looking at the Orioles record, it's hard to tell. Silly me.