Despite last night's walk-off win over the Red Sox, the Orioles boast MLB's worst record at 5-18 and second worst run differential at -43, and they're already set a record low for single game attendance at Camden Yards. Among other issues, Baltimore has struggled to find a solution for the closer's role since Mike Gonzalez hit the disabled list, not that he was much help before the injury.
SI.com's Tom Verducci spoke to a rival team executive who believes the Orioles' model is flawed. "They took good young players and surrounded them with non-tenders, veteran guys who can't play," said the exec. "It's a brutal combination."
Julio Lugo, Garrett Atkins, Cesar Izturis, Miguel Tejada, Will Ohman, and Gonzalez represent that core of of non-tenders and veteran guys who can't play (to use the executives words). However, those players aren't expected to form the core of the next contending Orioles' team.
Baltimore has an enviable group of young players led by Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold, and Brian Matusz, plus they also have Chris Tillman, Josh Bell, Jake Arrieta, and Zach Britton not too far away in the minors. That's the group expected to help them contend in the future, not the veteran players on one and two year deals.
I respectfully disagree with the rival executive's take on Baltimore's plan. It's certainly not going to yield maximum results this season, but Andy MacPhail can't turn around a team that hasn't had a winning season in more than a decade overnight. He's done a great job of building that young core, and the Orioles are clearly a team looking towards 2011 and 2012. The veterans mentioned above are just filling in the gaps relatively cheaply so they don't have to rush any prospects up from the minors.
MacPhail's plan is better than tricking himself into believing his team is one or two or three veterans away from competing, especially in that division. That logic will only lead to more losing seasons.