Offseason In Review: Baltimore Orioles

Leading off our Offseason In Review series, the Orioles.

Major League Signings

  • Mike Gonzalez, RP: two years, $12MM.  Also gave #52 overall pick to Braves.
  • Miguel Tejada, 3B: one year, $6MM.
  • Garrett Atkins,1B: one year, $4.5MM.  Includes $8.5MM club option for '11 with a $500K buyout.
  • Mark Hendrickson, RP: one year, $1.4MM.  Includes $1.2MM club option for '11 with a $200K buyout.
  • Total spend: $23.9MM

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades and Claims

Notable Losses

Summary

The Orioles added about $33MM worth of veterans this winter while finishing a couple of ugly contracts in Mora and Baez.  The pickups make the Orioles better in 2010, but to what end?  Fourth place in the AL East?  Perhaps the O's will eventually spin some of these guys into prospects, though a future Gonzalez trade is partially countered by the draft pick they already lost.  Whether you liked the Orioles' offseason depends on your philosophy on this question: should a rebuilding club spend significant money for the sake of respectability?


Leave a Reply

81 Comments on "Offseason In Review: Baltimore Orioles"


5 years 6 months ago

Asked this on Twitter. Since the spend is the same, would Orioles fans rather have Aroldis Chapman long-term, or the current contracts of Mike Gonzalez, Tejada, Atkins, Hendrickson, and Millwood?

not_brooks
5 years 6 months ago

I’d take Chapman over that group in a heartbeat.

But I’m also not a big fan of watching my team lose 100 games (especially since they’ve avoided 90 losses just twice since 2001). And if the O’s didn’t acquire a veteran starter, a closer and a third baseman this winter, that’s where they would be headed in 2010.

In truth, I was hoping for Chapman plus a veteran starter, a closer and a third baseman. And there’s no question in my mind that the Orioles could have afforded to spend $60M+ this winter.

Andrew_EC
5 years 6 months ago

The Orioles are headed for 100 losses anyway.

basemonkey
5 years 6 months ago

I won’t quibble about it too much but posting 100 losses means historically bad. They’ve been consistently bad, but they haven’t been “100 losses” bad during this current downturn.

Guest
5 years 6 months ago

I’ll take the vets. I think that since they are proven and actually all pretty good as well, They would make the O’s much better than Aroldis. Even for 6 years. The one thing the Orioles needed was veterans who could fill the holes in the Bullpen and rotation until the young guys were ready to take it over. And thats what they did. Aroldis would just make the rotation better. No bullpen help nor would they have Miggy and Garrett Atkins. I’ll take Mike Gonzalez, Miggy, Kevin, and Garrett Atkins.

5 years 6 months ago

Honestly its an unfair question, because Chapman wasn’t paid $20+ million in 2010. They could have had all those contracts and still had Chapman, remember their future commitment with these deals is $6.7 million (more if they pick up the options). A one for one comparison would be Atkins and Chapman (for this season the money is close).

basemonkey
5 years 6 months ago

Would I have taken him over stopgaps? Sure.

basemonkey
5 years 6 months ago

“..should a rebuilding club spend significant money for the sake of respectability?”

Tim, you’re drawing on the stock criticism on the Os the last decade without an eye for the actual details. You have to look at the actual money that came off the books. Your question is pretty misleading. The Orioles are shedding anywhere from 30-46M from 2009, and then using much of it to pay for better players and/or shorter term deals. The net difference might actually be cutting payroll, and put the final tally a tick above the Indians and Twins. It’s not as if this is the same 1998-2006 mis-managed Orioles that deserved your criticism because of their upper tier MLB payrolls. Today they’re at top of lowest tier of all payrolls, and diverting all saved money into player development.

boojtastic
5 years 6 months ago

No… six years of Aroldis Chapman at $30.25M is not equivalent–financially, mathematically, or otherwise–to the front-loaded $33MM the Orioles spent this offseason. Assume a discount rate of 6% and the Chapman signing comes out to about $24.8M.

leviticus6688
5 years 6 months ago

“should a rebuilding club spend significant money for the sake of respectability?”

In the Orioles’ case, no. Because they are geographically screwed.

ron9
5 years 6 months ago

I believe the O’s are very close to competeing. Lets say they were in the… NL West, or AL Central. If the stars were aligned, they competed for the first half, and they got a key pickup at the deadline (aaron harang for example) they could be a playoff team. They have a great outfield, an above average infield, and a young up and coming pitching staff.

So i think they did well to improve as much as they did for 33 Million.

Unfortunately they play in a division with 3 of the top 8 teams in MLB.

not_brooks
5 years 6 months ago

They also are finally finished paying Jay Gibbons ($6.2M in ’09), Ramon Hernandez ($2M in ’09) and Jamie Walker ($4.5M in ’09).

Whether you liked the O’s offseason depends on your philosophy on this question: Is $33M a significant amount of money? Especially when $21M of it is invested in one year deals?

The real questions for the O’s are these: Will Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nolan Riemold, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz each improve enough to make the team respectable in 2010? Will said improvement give the team a chance to sign a Cliff Lee and a Carlos Peña in 2010? Will management be willing to offer what it takes to sign said players?

5 years 6 months ago

That’s true, you can debate as to whether $33 mil is a significant spend. But…this post is about the team’s 2010 offseason, so the question I asked is the question. The questions you asked are interesting but don’t have much to do with what the O’s did this winter.

basemonkey
5 years 6 months ago

Tim,

You’re wrong. I would agree with xub. You asked to what end these signings have for the 2010 Os. Well, the end has pretty much 100% to do with farm, scouting, and player development. Why else would they spend most of their money for 1 yr deals? You ask you question as if, these 1 yr contracts are supposed to add up to something specific in 2010. Such a question is perfectly pertinent to ask on a contending team, but this is a franchise focussed on creating flexibility, giving their high young talent more experience, and building up more farmhands.

What’s the alternative? The only way a top tier free agent would ever come to the Orioles is if they overpay, which creates a host of other problems while limiting their ability to develop talent. It’s not as if they haven’t consistently offered big contracts to the top players. They have. They just get turned down if they’re market-value offers. In any case it makes no sense to pay big to players to block prospects, esp. if that contract is the unwieldy un-tradable kind.

5 years 6 months ago

These one-year deals cerainly are supposed to add up to something specific in 2010. I am trying to figure out what that is and if it’s the best way for them to spend $33 mil. If the O’s are expecting to gain 5 wins from the moves alone, plus whatever intangibles you want to attribute to the veterans, is it worth the money? Could they have spent $15 mil, and gotten a few less wins plus equal veteran intangibles? $10 mil?

basemonkey
5 years 6 months ago

Fair enough. Solid thoughts.

Considering they lost two relative albatrosses in Baez and Mora from the previous regime, including a number of minor financial figures off the books, they essentially swapped out older ill-fitting parts for younger and more flexible contracts, without actually changing the overall salary from ’09 (They might actually end up cutting overall payroll). Each of the moves looks like the kind of low risk/maybe high reward (below-market, bargain-hunting) deals you’re more likely to see from a team like the Twins, which ain’t a bad way to go considering their current circumstances. Though you’re not really going to see such moves being hailed as “successes” a la Mariners in season previews.

We could argue the merit of Atkins and Tejada, but both were signed below the going rate for starting corner infielders, and, they’re both 1 YR deals anyways. They need someone manning those positions, so they have to pay someone. Part of the recent minor league success has to do with how their system has become very consistent in their promotion schedules, so I am not upset with the fact that they’ve signed those guys as options. They have two highly regarded corner prospects so signing anyone better from the limited FA pool was cost-prohibitive, considering the overpay and years it would have taken to add a player like Beltre or Figgins.

The single significant acquisition is clearly Gonzalez. There’s an argument that a closer is a luxury on a losing team, but after several years of late-season collapses caused by rashes of pitching injuries, it is prudent to stiffen up the backend of a bullpen? What makes 2010 different? Unlike previous years where you saw the Orioles pick up fringy arms to patch innings as they went, this season the Orioles will feature legitimate top-rotation potential young arms to get experience. It’s literally taken the Orioles about 8-9 years to rebuild their system from the bottom up, and, it’s taken that long to finally see talent like this in the majors, they better not burn them out, esp. due to things within their control like having options in the bullpen. We saw this same kind of thing happen with the Rays when they started featuring arms like Kazmir in their rotation.

basemonkey
5 years 6 months ago

I just want to also mention that the Orioles have shed about 46.6M in contracts and added about 30M for 2010. So overall they shed contracts (i.e. Mora, Baez, friends..) but are getting a better bang for their buck (i.e. Gonzalez, Tejada, Atkins, etc..).

razumikhin
5 years 6 months ago

Not at all a fan of what the O’s did this offseason. To your last question: I answer a resounding no. Not that teams should not strive for respectability even in the midst of a rebuilding effort, but there’s no reason to shell out 30 million dollars for a marginal upgrade of 2-4 wins; that’s not an efficient use of resources for any team.

If they had simply let the market play itself out they could be in a position now to grab Branyan for less guaranteed dollars than they paid Atkins. Branyan at least brings some defensive value, unlike Atkins, and also is not in the midst of a steep decline. Also, twelve million dollars guaranteed to a reliever is just plain silly.

The Pirates are a good example of a team that gained a few marginal wins in the middle of a rebuilding effort, but did so without using a significant amount of resources.

5 years 6 months ago

Pirates came to mind for me as well. Haven’t checked the numbers but I think they spent about half as much.

basemonkey
5 years 6 months ago

Keep in mind that they shed 46.6M by seeing contracts go. So they end up with more money to put to draftees in 2010.

Gjf29
5 years 6 months ago

A team that lost over 90 games isn’t going to instantly be a playoff team in the NL so pls stop this nonsense already. If TB can get into the playoffs in the AL East, then so can any other team. Yes, it is the best division I agree, but don’t pretend a team not even that close to .500 becomes an 88 win team in the NL.

raffish
5 years 6 months ago

I think respectability is important. Perhaps they overpaid for a few of the players, (Atkins, Millwood). Still, who is to say that Chapman amounts to much of anything? I wish this team the best. The future looks bright.

5 years 6 months ago

Baseball is a very fickle sport. While many see the AL East as the Red Sox and Yankees to lose, I actually see more of an open race this year. I mean more open than in seasons past. Could anyone predict the Rays of 2008 having such a breakthrough? No. Does anyone see the Orioles making the same run this year? No. Which is why I like the moves they made. Almost all are high risk/high reward moves BUT in a stacked division, you have to take these risks in order to succeed. The orioles are stocked with solid starting pitching and the lineup could be effective, could be. Unfortunately I’m not really in love with the moves they made at the prices they paid but money aside, what matters is how they produce on the field. So will Atkins start to hit again after regressing in recent seasons?? Does Tejada have one more great season left in him?? Is millwood gonna win 10+ games and pitch a solid 200+ innings?? Hmm I guess this bigger question is, if every player acquired this offseason has a career year, is it still enough to win in this division?? I think it’s possible but not probable….in 2009 I would have said its impossible.

As far as Aroldis Chapman, jury is still out on him. If he is the cuban Randy Johnson, many clubs will be kicking themselves for passing on him. He could also be a gigantic bust if he can’t locate his pitches and slips to the bullpen and to eventual irrelevance. Also with every extreme power pitcher the risk for injury is also pretty high so this must be taken into consideration. Essentially, it could really go either way.

THIS OFFSEASON, the Minnesota Twins did the BEST overall job filling team specific needs with good contracts meant to immediately make an impact at the Major League level without sacrificing ANY of the youth of the future. A+ in my book.

orioles
5 years 6 months ago

I love when people actually understand baseball.

Bravoboy10
5 years 6 months ago

You hit the nail on the head about Chapman, his ceiling may be Randy Johnson but his basement could be worse than Orlando Hernandez

alphabet_soup5
5 years 6 months ago

The Twins added Orlando Hudson, J.J. Hardy, Jim Thome, and Carl Pavano. What an A+ offseason. Pavano is going to suck but he’ll eat innings at least, Thome’s just a bench bat, I predict a .250/.320/.400 line for J.J., and as for Orlando Hudson I predict a line of .280/.360/.430. I only see Hudson as really improving the club, and I still think they should have made a trade for Jose Lopez.

The Twins lineup looks good on paper, but they need to score enough to support their shoddy rotation and let’s see how good they hit in their new ballpark, especially in the cold.

5 years 6 months ago

First off, this should be about the Orioles but I have to refute everything you wrote regarding the Twins. First off, Jim Thome as a bench bat is GREAT (.847 OPS in 2009). What Thome gives you is complete flexibility in terms of matchups and a power threat. JJ Hardy indeed had a forgettable 2009 but he is still a marvel on defense and has shown (both 2007 & 2008) that he can hit in the .270-.280 range with power (25 HR’s) at a position where power is a luxury. When healthy in 2009 (end of year wrist injury hurt his bottom line) All Star Orlando Hudson was stellar with the bat and solid on defense. You have to know a little bit about the Twins before discounting what they’ve done. Orlando Hudson’s steady .280+ bat is replacing production to the tune of .200 the twins had last year. Do you think replacing a .200 hitter with a .280 hitter isn’t going to make an impact?? It will. As for Pavano, he did one thing last season that cannot be denied, he DOMINATED the american league central. Adding this arm as rotational insurance is a great move and not adding more veteren arms to eat up innings from a glut of great young talent like Francisco Liriano, Brian Duensing et al. is also a great call. Having Pat Neshek (all of 2009), Kevin Slowey (half of 2009), Justin Morneau (Last 2 months of 2009) and Joe Mauer (First Month of 2009) back from injury will also give them a boost. Do you realize the Twins can field a lineup with 7 quality left-handed bats to face right-handed ace pitchers?? Not even the yankees can say this!! So your assertions that they only look good on paper is just unfounded as the lineup has a history of success and their offseason has to be considered one of the best in baseball this winter because they addressed specific team needs with talented players on value contracts. A+

strikethree
5 years 6 months ago

“Could anyone predict the Rays of 2008 having such a breakthrough? No.”

The problem with this is that this was pre-CC, AJ, and Tex. And this was during a season when the Yanks had an injury plagued season. Plus, the Rays had everything go right for them. (The Rays were good but how many games did they win by one or two runs? Tons.)

Also, you have to do the math: Yes, the Rays emerged as legitimate contender, so now there are even more contenders in that division. The Rays in 2008 only had the Red Sox to worry about since the Yankees were swept with injuries. If the O’s want to compete they have to hope that at least two of these three teams collapse through injuries. (Which is very unlikely)

“Almost all are high risk/high reward moves BUT in a stacked division, you have to take these risks in order to succeed.”

And how is that different from Chapman? I mean, if you look at the O’s signings, who is the biggest potential reward here? Maybe a big year from Tejada? Too bad he’s been average for the last 3 years. Plus, you have to worry if there will be any health effects from steroid use. He clearly looks to be on the decline.

No one is arguing the risk with Chapman. But, those are the risks you want to take for a rebuilding team. (Not risks with one year aging veterans) Tejada would be much harder to trade even with a good year because of his age, PED usage, and his position (pitchers are easier to trade than position players) compared to Chapman.

strikethree
5 years 6 months ago

For a rebuilding team, the only time you want to pay for veterans is if you feel your team is close to competing.

The O’s might have a good team if their young core lives up to their respective hypes. However, the chances of everyone clicking at once (like the Rays in 2008) seems low.

I think they might be starting too soon. In a division as difficult as the AL East, it is even more important to obtain young prospects. Chapman would have fit the bill of a gamble that could pay off. It doesn’t seem economically prudent for a team with limited resources to go after aging veterans. 12 mil for two years is a lot in this economic climate for a relief pitcher.

I don’t see how “respectability” plays into this when your team, at best, comes to 3rd place in the division. These vets might be adding what? 1-5 wins over replacement in total? (If all of them produces a healthy year) Plus, they’re not nearly worth as much as a guy like Chapman living up to his hype. (Even if he performed at 75% of expectations)

I would’ve liked to see the O’s sign high risk/upside players. If you wanted to take a gamble then you have to take it with guys like these. If they produce a healthy year, they can be trade candidates and/or bolster your playoff chances if the team is in the running come the trade deadline.

I think the O’s offseason has been a mixed bag of sorts. They seem to have over paid most of their FAs by about 1-2 mil each. (It adds up) Yet, I do like the trade possibilities if Atkins, Ohman and Gonzales put up good years.

orioles
5 years 6 months ago

The thing with signing these veterans is that they are stopgaps until our prospects are ready. Millwood was signed to eat some innings to help the bullpen stay fresh when Tillman or Matusz have a rough start. Gonzalez is a solid reliever/closer. We needed a closer once we traded Sherrill, and Johnson didn’t exactly handle that too well. Tejada was signed as a stopgap for Josh Bell, who absolutely crushed the ball in AA Bowie. I got a chance to watch him hit 3 of his home runs and they were absolutely crushed. Atkins was signed as the stopgap at 3rd until we signed Tejada. This is the only move that I’m on the fence about. He gives us a first baseman with some power (potentially), but I would personally rather have the line-drive hitting/very good defensive Aubrey at first. I’d rather have him platoon with Wigginton than have Atkins. Hendrickson is a solid reliever and can spot start occasionally. The only two things I would have liked to seen the Orioles do were (1)sign a legitimate backup catcher and (2) sign a picther to a cheap, one year deal so that Tillman could work on holding runners at AAA.

5 years 6 months ago

If the purpose was just to find stopgaps, you could spend half as much easily.

strikethree
5 years 6 months ago

Perhaps I was being much too conservative.

If it’s any consolation to O’s fans, I think the team is in a better position than the Nats, another rebuilding team who spent frivolously this offseason. The O’s clearly have a young core that has potential. But, some of these guys haven’t even played a full season yet and the roster still needs more young impact players to compete in that division.

tntoriole
5 years 6 months ago

I disagree that you could have found anywhere near similar players at “half” the cost this offseason…you could have signed significantly worse players for half the cost, but what is the point? I believe Andy signed players who both can provide some durable contribution during a growth season for the young players and who, if any of them have seasons which exceed expectations, can be dealt a la George Sherrill for even more talent than would be the case if you stuck say with Melvin Mora as your third baseman which seems to be what you are suggesting at “half as much”. The only contract longer than one year is Gonzalez and we have already seen what someone like Sherrill can bring from a contender in return…if Gonzalez pitches well, then the return will be much more projectable than you would get from the draft pick.
Chapman could as likely be the next Daniel Cabrera as Randy Johnson…

strikethree
5 years 6 months ago

Stop gaps are fine unless they’re coming at 6mil+. You’re telling me the O’s couldn’t have shaved off at least 4 mil? (Especially when given what other FAs signed for?) 4 mil can buy a lot.

Why not just use the countless replacements in your minor leagues?

You have to think of the opportunity costs here: using that money instead on a guy like Chapman. If not him, then maybe international draft picks. Maybe hire a better minor league training/coaching team. Lots of options here.

Yes, these replacements are likely to post sub par seasons. However, is 1-5 wins over replacement worth the money when the team is likely to come in 4th anyhow?

5 years 6 months ago

I think the O’s did a great job this offseason. Is it perfect no, but they got better on the field with out compromising their future in trades or payroll. Millwood, Tejada, Atkins could all get dealt by the deadline and given their short contracts, every team could be in the market for them (if they have that need). Even if they all stay with the O’s throughout the season, Baltimore gets all that money back in payroll flexibility for next season. Considering they are unlikely contenders this season and still have one of the best farm systems in baseball, I think they made the right move.

My only complaint is I do wish they had gotten one of the Cuban pitchers this offseason or some other international young talent. Other than that though they are a strong and deep team. With a very good young core, if any of Bell, Snyder, Britton, Erbe ect. can join them this team could be very dangerous.

osfanintx
5 years 6 months ago

Those who don’t get the moves made by Andy McPhail this off-season haven’t been watching Orioles baseball for the past 20+ years. Why pay Gonzales that much $$$? Easy, when you’ve had such lousy pitching for a decade, you really get perturbed when the bullpen can’t close the game out when your starter gives you 7+ and leave with a lead. We did a bunch of that a couple of years ago. Why Tejada? You need somebody that can handle a bat (the guy’s power numbers are down, but he still hits over .300 and has been an All-Star the previous two seasons) and won’t hurt you defensively. At 3rd, Miggy’s range won’t be as much of a factor. Then, the future 3rd baseman, Bell, can continue to get his development in without having to step up too soon (which is something else the O’s can relate to). Will these veteran signings take the Orioles to the playoffs in 2010? Probably not, but they will put a respectable team on the field in 2010 with an eye on “peaking” in 2011 or 2012. In the AL East, it’s all about the pitching. If the young O’s in the rotation can develp to their hype/potential over 2010, then McPhail should spend the next off-season going after that missing piece or two (at whatever price) that they need to get to the playoffs. So, what do the O’s need most right now? (1) The young arms to mature, (2) Millwood and Guthrie not to stink (so the bullpen doesn’t get worn out), (3) the veteran acquisions to perform to par as “placeholders” until 2011, and (4) a major clean-up hitter in 2011 (which may come from within or may be a FA acquision in the off-season).

I’m happy with the signings, but we’ll have to see how the young arms develop. O’s also need guys like Jones, Reimold, Pie and Weiters to continue to improve. They are big league ballplayers, but not big league threats….yet.

As for Chapman, does anybody remember Matsusake’s signing a couple of years ago? How much did the Red Sox pay for the right to even talk to this guy? Does anyone think that was worth it now in hindsight? You never know what’s going to happen in baseball…..especially health-wise. That’s what makes those signings so risky.

drumzalicious
5 years 6 months ago

I mean they did get their holes filled (1B, 3B, Vet SP, CP) so i would give them a A on that. Of course they could have traded one of their stud OF’ers in a trade for Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay but they didnt. They instead went with the guy who can give them 200 innings while mentoring a very young rotation. The only guy that could have done that would have been Halladay and he would have cost a fortune.

Everything honestly comes down to the question marks:

How will Millwood do in the AL East?
How will Gonzalez do in a transition to the AL?
Will Atkins rebound from 2009? How will he do a full season away from Coors?

But to be fair every team has those question marks. With the Yankees its:

How will Vazquez do back in the AL East?
How effective can Pettite still pitch?
Will Johnson stay healthy?
Can Jeter/Posada maintain their production through their aging?
When will CC and AJ’s arms fall off? <= joke

5 years 6 months ago

If these signings can elevate their win totals and shed the cellar dwellar label the O’s have picked up as of late then yes they could be worth it and then some. The O’s have the money to get a superstar player but haven’t found one interested in Baltimore. A few more wins and possibly a guy like Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez suddenly is willing to take Angelos money and then they’re legitimate contenders if they can find some starters to pair with Tillman and Matsusz

strikethree
5 years 6 months ago

Actually, the thing about the money is that they weren’t even matching the market price.

Even if they add a few wins, how can they compete when they aren’t even offering what teams like the Yanks and Sox offer? (In terms of wins and money offered)

They can’t. They need prospects and possibly snatch of up some high risk/reward players that other teams stay away from.

5 years 6 months ago

If the O’s really want Fielder/Gonzalez when and if they hit the market, they will be able to put up a very competitive bid especially with the Red Sox and Yankees set at 1B with Youkilis/Martinez and Texeira. And with their already stellar OF, a solid 3B prospect in Bell, excellent young catcher in Weiters, and a few more years of Brian Roberts all they’re missing is a big bat at 1B. Have some of that young pitching develop and they could very well vault themselves into competing with Boston and NYY, the Rays are doing it and the Orioles have much better resources with which they can contend in the near future

nflisbetter
5 years 6 months ago

Nick,

Stop it. The Rays aren’t doing it. They did it one year and are back on a downward spiral. Teams can’t compete in a division where two teams are responsible for 80% of the spending in the division.

Ten Bucks Mike
5 years 6 months ago

To answer the question with two questions: (1) Is it your money? (2) Does it hamper future plans for contending?

For the first question, I think we spend WAY too much time these days worrying about what teams do with their money. The Orioles are not a financially hampered team. They made some moves to improve their team at a few positions (although I don’t consider Atkins an upgrade, but whatever). Maybe they think it will improve attendance. Maybe they think that NOT losing 100 games will aid the development of the younger players. Whatever they’re thinking, it’s their money, and it’s not their last $20. So who cares?

Second, I do not think the Orioles front office expects to compete for a playoff berth this year. I think this because they didn’t make any huge overpayments, because they didn’t add an extra year onto anyone’s contract to get them to come to Baltimore, and because MacPhail has been pretty realistic about his team since arriving. So the signings this offseason were short, relatively cheap, and do not block any major prospects. They certainly don’t impact the ability to extend Wieters, Matusz, Jones, etc. in the near future.

To summarize, I think we’ve taken modern baseball economic analysis too far. The question posed here is not one that needs to be asked of every team. If you have a team with limited additional budget room and legitimate hopes of contending, that’s a time to scrutinize spending. The Orioles fit neither of these criteria. I think they were wise to keep their prospects and avoid expensive, long term commitments in the free agent market. The focus is still on future seasons. Given that, whose business is it how they spend their money?

chris91mds
5 years 6 months ago

The biggest problem is that there was no one for the Orioles to sign. Next year is the 1b class. Atkins is a STOP-GAP at that. In terms of the AL East, he is far worse than Tex, Pena, Youk.
It’s naive to argue the Orioles offseason based on an AL East comparison. The team is not at the point in which they should be trading for that key piece, i.e. Gonzalez from SD or Fielder. In terms of where the Orioles are as an organization, this was a great offseason. Macphail brought in the veteran to TEACH and PROTECT Tillman/Matusz/Bergesen. He brought in STOP GAP corner guys. The O’s have been burned by bad contracts as of late…Ramon Hernandez and Javy Lopez to name two. Macphail allows the Orioles to possibly compete and hopefully achieve a .500 record, but not rush Bell and Snyder. In terms of the Orioles organization, it was a great offseason for Andy Macphail.
O’s fans, hold on…be patient. We’re close.

nickvee
5 years 6 months ago

I think the Orioles had a great offseason. The Orioles would be a pathetic team with Aubrey at 1B, Wigginton at 3B, no backend relief help, Guthrie as an ace and 2-5 full of starters with less than 200 Career IP. These signings make a bad team into a mediocre team with a brighter future. If the O’s can make a jump to 75-85 wins they will begin to be on the radar of many free agents and will totally change the culture in Baltimore (i.e. fill the seats). MacPhail did not make the lethal mistake that past regimes have made in committing money longterm. He took some risks on some high-risk/high-reward guys. If Atkins, Tejada etc. has a solid first half, we may get a marginal prospect, or even resign them next year(I’m not totally sold on Bell vs LHP and not sold on Snyder at all). The key to the Orioles success will clearly be Matusz, Tillman, Arrieta, Bergeson. That is the future. MacPhail has surrounded them with some veteran support and above-average defense so that they may be put in a position to succeed (unlike a Daniel Cabrera, Sidney Ponson, etc.). I hate when people say we have no chance in the division we have, or that we do not spend money. The Orioles have the money to spend, but first and foremost the Orioles need to change the culture surrounding the Orioles from a losing environment, into even a mediocre baseball team environment. That is the next step.

nflisbetter
5 years 6 months ago

Sorry, Nick. The Orioles are better than the Pirates and the Royals, but can’t compete in the division. The Pirates have 1/5 of the Cardinals payroll. The Royals have 1/4 of the Tigers payroll. And the Orioles have 1/4 of the Yankees payroll. Get ready for another 12 losing seasons.

nickvee
5 years 6 months ago

The Marlins have 1/8 the payroll of the Mets, but field a better team.
Payroll is a factor but it is how you spend the money that matters. The
Orioles have the money to spend in upcoming years I have read we can
handle 100-130 million in payroll (about 1/2 the yankees and about top 10
in baseball). It is all about changing the culture and developing young
home grown talent.

rockiesfan_303
5 years 6 months ago

I think they had a solid offseason, and I think if they finish 4th but still improve wins wise then its a win for them at this point. Until all the youth really becomes great this team will not compete but they still brought in veteran presence (Tejada, Millwood) to help guide the youth in their quest to return to the playoffs. My parents grew up near Baltimore so I root for the O’s on the side, especially in their recent days since Ripken retired. This is a team to watch in 2010.

basemonkey
5 years 6 months ago

I’m glad someone mentioned Millwood. It’s kind of ridiculous that we’re talking about Tejada, Atkins, or other 1 YR deals. They’re all stopgaps. Does any team sign anyone for one year deals with the intention that they will add up to paradigm-changing moves?

What’s missing in this discussion is the fact that they got a veteran arm for basically nothing. I’m not at all suggesting that the Orioles will lurch ahead of the Yankees or compete with the Red Sox with such a move, but you have to think in terms of the multiplier effect, or, quicker learning curve it might have on their talented young stable of arms. What makes or breaks this rebuilding effort is about Wieters, Matusz, Jones, Markakis, Tillman, Arrieta, Bell, etc.., not picking up Atkins, Tejada, or whoever else the casual outside observer will recognize.

chemgress
5 years 6 months ago

I really think there is something to be said about attempting to change the culture of losing that has developed over the last decade or so in Baltimore. Will the moves the O’s made this offseason put them in contention for the playoffs? Probably not. However, I think it’s safe to say that they have an outside shot at at least approaching .500 for the first time in recent memory. Give the fans a reason to watch the games instead of putting a bunch of AAAA players out there as stopgaps.

Attendance has been dropping in Baltimore, and if they merely pocketed the money that came off the books, that would have angered the damaged fan base even more. Also, a respectable season will help make Baltimore a more appealing option to next year’s free-agent class, which could be far better than this year’s. These deals were mostly 1-year deals that will allow prospects more time to develop and will come off the payroll in time to add better free agents when they are ready to contend. I’m not saying all these moves were great (They overpaid for Atkins trying to catch lightning in a bottle), but I certainly think they had the right idea.

mstrchef13
5 years 6 months ago

To get back to Tim’s question: Would I rather have Chapman or the five players we signed? I would most definitely rather have the five players we signed. Even if Chapman is Randy Johnson v2.0, he will still need six years before he is anything other than a hard throwing lefty with no idea where the ball is going. By the time Chapman figures it out (assuming he does), his contract will be up and he’ll be snapped up by the YankeeSox. Based on everything that I have read regarding his stuff, his makeup, his workouts, and what I watched in the WBC, I think he’s more likely to be Daniel Cabrera than Randy Johnson.

On the other hand, Tejada, Atkins, Millwood, and Gonzalez were acquired to (A) provide some more time for young players to develop and (B) win some games. The Orioles know that having a solid core of young and extremely talented players isn’t quite enough to attract free agents in the 2010-11 offseason. They will have to show that they can win more than they have in the past. Tejada and Atkins are expected to provide more than either those they replaced (Huff and Mora), the other internal options (Wigginton and Aubrey), or the future (Snyder and Bell). Millwood provides stability to the rotation and a mentoring presence that Guthrie is unable to provide, given that he only has three seasons under his belt. Gonzalez, as well as Ohman and Hendrickson, will hopefully provide some solid performances in the bullpen so that when the young pitchers (Matusz, Bergesen, Tillman, and perhaps Berken, Hernandez, Arrieta, Patton, or Erbe) pitch well enough to win that they actually win.

I’m excited to be an Orioles fan. I’m excited about our chances. I think that we are better positioned for our breakout year than the Rays were when they had theirs.