Thursday, December 13, 2007

Turning a corner?

Last week I speculated that Peter Angelos may have been losing faith in Andy MacPhail after John Heyman of Sports Illustrated reported the rumor.

I think the Tejada trade puts that rumor to rest.

Miguel Tejada was the star of the Orioles, and the most identifiable and marketable player on the team. Over the last 10 years, Angelos has been very hesitant to trade away his most familiar players. And with wins coming at a premium in Baltimore, identifiable players were one of the few reasons to see the team play in person.

But by trading Tejada, it proves to us that Angelos is at least open to a rebuilding process, as Erik Bedard and Brian Roberts have been attached to several trades as well, and will probably be traded this offseason.

That said, it's going to take more than just trading Tejada to make me believe that Angelos has turned over a new leaf. Maybe once Brian Roberts -- the most fan-friendly player, and one of Angelos' favorites -- is traded, I might start to believe. Angelos has done too much damage for me to forget 10 years of constantly overruling his baseball people and running quality baseball people out of town by approving one trade.

But trading Tejada is the best sign to show fans that Angelos finally sees the light. He's tried to do things his way for 10 years, and maybe he's finally admitted that his way was wrong.

Now back to MacPhail.

Since coming to Baltimore in the middle of last season, MacPhail took time to review the organization and evaluate the way things were done. He made moves he thought needed to be made. He extended manager Dave Trembley. He fired pitching coach Leo Mazzone. And hired young-pitcher-friendly pitching coach Rick Kranitz.

He has a vision for the future of the Orioles, and he's making the moves that fit in with that vision. Mike Flanagan, Jim Beattie and Jim Duquette used to say one thing and then do the other. Not MacPhail. Everything he has said since coming to Baltimore has been backed up by his actions.

His trades alone are proof.

When he traded Steve Trachsel last season, many fans just wanted Trachsel gone so youngsters like Garret Olson and Radhames Liz could take his spot in the rotation. But MacPhail traded Trachsel to the Cubs and actually got some value in return in Scott Moore, who projects to be the starting 3B if Melvin Mora is traded or moved to another position, and Rocky Cherry, a decent arm in the bullpen.

His Tejada trade yesterday started out as a decent one, but got even better the more one thought about it. MacPhail traded Tejada, still a great player, but one who is starting to decline in physical skills. His range at SS is now average at best. His power numbers have declined since 2004. There are rumors floating around baseball that he might be older than 32. And he is supposed to be linked to steroids in the Mitchell report, which will be released today.

And MacPhail did all of this without paying any of Tejada's salary, all while getting back 5 talented players who could all become solid MLB players one day. Sure, some are more likely to succeed than others, but each player received in that trade fits into what the Orioles are trying to do:

Get younger and get better.

So while there are still a lot of question marks surrounding the Orioles' future right now, at least some things are starting to become a little clearer. For one, MacPhail looks to be the right guy for the job. And most importantly, it looks like Angelos is letting him do it.

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