Hot Stove Daily: Baltimore Orioles
By Tim Brown, Yahoo Sports
November 8, 2007
Editor's note: Yahoo! Sports will examine the offseason plans of every MLB team before the Dec. 3-6 winter meetings. Our series continues with the Baltimore Orioles.
2007 record: 69-93
Finish: Fourth place in American League East.
2007 Opening-day payroll: $95 million
Andy MacPhail came aboard as president of baseball operations in June, general manager Jim Duquette was gone before Halloween, and the franchise drifted off again in new and, well, so far, just new directions. Early indications are that MacPhail, a reasonably bright baseball man, views the Orioles as poorly constructed and ill-equipped to compete in the top-heavy AL East, which means he's got an eye for the obvious. It also could mean change, and fast.
In the coming weeks, MacPhail will drag the likes of Miguel Tejada, Melvin Mora, Ramon Hernandez and Aubrey Huff through meetings and telephone calls with other GMs, hoping to invigorate the Orioles with younger talent. MacPhail would like to add pitching to a staff that has some promise (Erik Bedard, Jeremy Guthrie, Daniel Cabrera, Garrett Olson, Adam Loewen, Radhames Liz), and outfielders to a position that holds Nick Markakis and a handful of serviceable parts. If a contract extension can't be worked out, they might even shop Bedard, who has top-end stuff and could bring plenty.
The Orioles aren't a project that can be completed in single offseason, or even two. Therefore, it seems unlikely they'd be involved in anything greater than investing in the future. If they target anything, it should be in the back of their bullpen, where they lost Chris Ray and Danys Baez to Tommy John surgery last season.
The Orioles have tried the high-end market (Tejada) and the mid-range market (Aubrey Huff, Ramon Hernandez, Baez) and little of it has worked for them. Now, even as banks of empty seats crop up at Camden Yards, money isn't an issue for Peter Angelos' little franchise. But it seems pointless to spend with the big boys and finish with the small ones, meaning the Orioles' offseason could be more about who goes than who comes.
Complicating matters, Tejada is one of their best and most marketable players. Yet, the Orioles also are quite capable of finishing in fourth place without him. So, they'll shop him and hope he brings the kinds of offers he did before his power and range fell off. It didn't help MacPhail that in the same third-base market of free agents Alex Rodriguez and Mike Lowell, the Florida Marlins decided it was time to hear offers on Miguel Cabrera. Still, Tejada could wind up in places such as Philadelphia, Anaheim, the Bronx and San Francisco, particularly if Angelos would subsidize some of the $26 million Tejada has coming over the next two seasons.
But, complexities abound in Baltimore. Mora is under contract for two more seasons and has a full no-trade clause. And Hernandez, who had an off 2007, is due $15.5 million through 2009. In fact, considering Jay Gibbons, Chad Bradford, Jamie Walker, Tejada, Baez and Huff also are signed through 2009, this looks like a three-year project.
There's no O's in A-Rod. Said president Andy MacPhail: "You can cross us off the list."
SATURDAY: Boston Red Sox
Tim Brown is a national baseball writer for Yahoo! Sports. He co-authored with Jim Abbott the memoir “Imperfect: an Improbable Life”. Follow him on Twitter. Send Tim a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Thursday, Nov 8, 2007 10:32 pm, EST