Birds or Prey?

The recent Red Sox spending spree is perceived as a shot across the bow of the U.S.S. Pinstripe, a warning to the Yankees and upstart Rays that the Beantowners won’t take their beatings lying down. Competing in the stacked AL East just got even tougher. Again. Heat from wringing hands might melt all Toronto’s snow but the silence coming from Baltimore is deafening.

Sure, Jays fans feel their too-clever-by-a-half GM might figure a way around the immense payroll disparity and the Rays are reloading with enough young talent to sustain their next surge, the Baltimore Orioles hopelessly plug away. Pick up powerful outmaker Mark Reynolds and defensive whiz J.J. Hardy to solidify the left side of their infield, (potentially) spend some money on a new “name” closer, stock the outfield with decent two-way performers, hit a noted lunatic clean-up, whatever. At best, marginal improvements to an awful club. Lateral moves from a team trapped at the bottom of a deep, deep well.

A young pitching core yet to realize much of its potential, a staff not half as highly regarded as their partners in futility from Toronto. What are the Orioles hoping to accomplish with this year’s string of moves? More to the point, can they hope at all?

The excellent Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing posed this very question yesterday, counting his teal blessings that no matter how rough things look for his Mariners, they’re still not the OriLOLes.

MacPhail’s Orioles don’t stand a chance. Mathematically, they do stand a chance, in that there is some combination of events that could take place and wrap up with the Orioles having won the division, but realistically, it’s hopeless. It’s hopeless now, it’s been hopeless for years, and it will remain hopeless into the future.

Wow. Depressing. Just like being from Baltimore, if the greatest television show in history can be believed. I don’t know that I admire the O’s or the front office’s dedication to spitting into the ocean, but the deck is stacked against the lowly Orioles what else can they do? Spend a little money on players in an attempt to better their rotten lot in life.

Sure, an upgrade in the middling bullpen and a decent third base stop gap help, but with the lean and mean Rays, increasingly competent Jays, and the other two monoliths, the Orioles are screwed. Badly. Perhaps they should be commended for not just rolling over and collecting luxury tax payments. Which, in addition to make-good money from their D.C. neighbours, is likely their ultimate plan anyway. Competition!

Comments (12)

  1. Wow, never really put myself in Baltimors shoes – why the hell are the fans there not absolutely freaking out at Selig for not doing something that will actually keep payrolls at least mildly comparable in the league.

  2. The player’s union is never going to allow a salary cap. I think the one thing that could be done that would improve matters is end divisional play. If teams played each other more or less equally, along with the implementation of another playoff spot, then there might be hope. Figure that the Jays, in that case, probably would’ve won at least a couple or three more games last year, and while that may not have been enough in 2010, sometimes it is. Although even that scenario is a long reach for Baltimore.

  3. I was just going to make the same point about divisions. If they were abolished and there was just the AL and NL with an even schedule, there would be a better chance for an unexpected team or two to sneak in. It wouldn’t be perfect, but you wouldn’t have one stacked division and 5 weaker ones.

  4. Plus, as much as I’m for redistributing of wealth, I don’t believe a salary cap in baseball is the answer. For one, there would never be any trades and that’s half the fun of baseball, and for another baseball has deeper farm systems than any other league which does make it inherently more competitive than other leagues. The need for a salary cap isn’t as great.

    If there was some sort of REAL compensation for free agent signings and possibly some sort of free agent cap that would allow teams to only make a certain number of free agent signings in a 5 year span, that might help to. So would maximum contracts. There is no easy fix though.

  5. Also, elimination of signing bonuses and payment deferrals…I mean, what the shit is that? That’s just away of getting around the current system that does exists and needs to stop.

  6. Just playing devil’s advocate here and I really think that the Orioles are likely screwed in the long-term but I think we should remember that this team went 34-23 to finish up last year under Showalter.
    They also have numerous interesting pieces and a few young pitchers that could surprise. They will have trouble competing in the near (who isn’t in the supremely stacked AL bEast) but they strike me as a team that could be .500 next year if things break their way.

  7. I am not sure the Orioles and Jays ownership would want an even schedule. Currently they get to play the two teams that draw the largest crowds when visiting. Rogers may not want to give up that revenue.

  8. I think if they were winning and contending they’d draw far better crowds on a daily basis. Anything that helps them win, I think they’d want to do it.

  9. They should make new divisions and get rid of the DH so teams like Boston can play Atlanta 7 or 14 times instead of 1 or 2 and they need a cap every other sport has one NHL NFL NBA it would only benefit the MLB in the long run so many teams are struggling right know with attendance

  10. I propose, for starters, that the Red Sox go fuck themselves.

  11. Two divisions – two wild cards. See you in Hell, 4th place Minnesota Twins!

  12. Oh how much changes in a year. This time last year everyone was talking about the dangerous young Orioles and how they’re poised to climb the AL East ladder.

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