The closer we get to Spring Training, the more puzzled I am by what the Baltimore Orioles attempting accomplishing between the final day last season and Opening Day 2011. Scroll back through the Getting Banked archives and you see me, on December 10th, wondering aloud what the Orioles were up to in 2011, after a series of curious moves to revamp the infield with veteran offensive performers.
Fast forward nearly two months and nothing changed. I’m still puzzled, more so after the O’s signed aging designated hitter Vlad Guerrero to a one year deal. The terms aren’t pretty though the Orioles likely overpaid for one year consciously, rather than going the multi-year route. Vlad had a huge bounce back year in a cushy offensive park though the World Series exposed him as a full-time DH.
If the Orioles plan to pay Vlad to hit every day, they must move incumbent DH Luke Scott to left field to accommodate new every day first baseman Derrek Lee. The roster machinations aren’t pretty, especially if you are Nolan Reimold or Felix Pie, now relegated to 4th outfielder or minor league wheel-spinning.
In other words, the Orioles are a better team but not by much. Better to what end, is the important question. MASN sports Orioles dude Steve Melewski posed that very question to everyone’s favorite hater Keith Law. The KLaw dismissed the gains as marginal in no time flat:
The Orioles are not adding young talent; they added a bushel veteran players to the roster. I don’t get it, they are not winning 85 games this year and even if they did, what is that going to buy them? A couple extra fans in the seats? It won’t put them in the playoffs
To me it is just that simple. I really hope Orioles fans don’t actually believe the team can compete for a playoff spot. These moves smack of desperation by ownership and a lame duck GM in the last year of his deal, don’t they?
I feel like this is an offseason that may be coming from ownership or marketing, saying ‘we can’t lose 100 games again.’ In that situation the baseball operations department should say ‘do you want to win in the long term? Or do you want to just stink less in the short term?
Adding Guerrero, Reynolds and other veterans might add five or six wins, but it’s not going to get them to 90 wins or an inch closer to the playoffs.
That line “we can’t lose 100 games again” is really the beginning and the end of this entire offseason. That seems to be the sole motivating factor. Poor loyal Orioles fans are so shell shocked, they actually believe getting the team over .500, even just once, is important to making Baltimore more attractive to potential free agent signings in the future. Law doesn’t agree with that asinine suggestion and neither do I. The Orioles seemed to be on the right track, improving and stockpiling talented young players. Until this winter, when it all went out the window.
Do the Orioles, or their fans, think this team is now better than the Yankees? The Rays? The Red Sox??? The 2011 O’s could well surge past the retooling Blue Jays, but the Jays are much, much better situated for the future with a stronger farm system and extensive scouting. Not to mention the bulk of the Jays’ core are approaching their peaks, rather than admiring them in the rear-view mirror. The same old O’s in another package. More Angelos insanity but on a smaller scale. No huge overpayments but a total lack of patience with focus on the result rather than the process.
Sorry O’s fans, the margin for error is too small with a barrier for entry too high for hoping every, single, solitary thing goes right for one magical season. The 2006 & 2008 Blue Jays tried that in a Rays-free division and it didn’t work then (and those two teams were light years better than the 2011 Orioles project)and it ain’t working now. Too bad, a Nick Markakis is a terrible thing to waste.