Thursday, January 31, 2008

I know it has been a while since I posted, but life keeps getting in the way. In order for me to afford to get online I have to have gainful employment. Said gainful employment has been kicking my proverbial ass lately. Ass trumps blog.

Anyway, I do have some thoughts os the new Ravens coach, and I will try to expound on them no later than next week. But right now I need to comment on the Orioles, Erik Bedard, and the trade.

According to ESPN the Bedard trade between the Orioles and the Seattle Mariners might finally go through later this week, possibly as soon as Friday. The question that everyone has had is what was the hold up? As recently as a couple of days ago we were told that the trade was all but done, and that two of the prospects that Baltimore was supposed to get were pulled from what they were doing (one was playing winter ball in the Dominican) and told that they had to go get physicals so that the trade could be finalized. The next thing you know, the trade is still not finalized and both sides are claiming that a deal was still under consideration but nothing had been finalized. Well that is all well and good, but if the deal wasn't about to happen, why would the Mariners pull one of their players from winter league ball? The only reason anyone could find would be so that they don't get injured and cause the trade to be dropped.

Immediately speculation turned to Orioles owner Peter Angelos, and that he might have nixed the trade like he has done in the past (in 1996 when Pat Gillick wanted to trade Bobby Bonilla and David Wells, and as recently as this past season when he overruled a trade of Brian Roberts to Atlanta). The thing is, we as fans had been assured that Angelos told Andy McPhail (a very respected baseball man who led one team to 2 World Series championships and another within 5 outs of making the World Series for the first time since WWII) that McPhail would have complete autonomy to do what was best for the team. When Andy McPhail came to Baltimore last season, a lot of heads in baseball turned, and people started thinking that maybe Angelos had learned his lesson and that he was going to let people with baseball acumen make baseball decisions. Now everyone knew that it wasn't the case and that Angelos was meddling again, and McPhail should quit because he would never be able to rebuild this team as long as Angelos owned them...

There is one basic problem though. McPhail came out and said that Angelos had not interfered. McPhail has always been known as a straight shooter who doesn't spin fanciful tales to the media or fans. He might keep things a little too close to the vest for some people, but holding info until you are sure it is correct is not a bad thing. So McPhail sys that Angelos is not the reason that the trade isn't happening. How do the fans react? Read the comments from the last link and see for yourself. They keep saying "McPhail is lying! It HAS to be Angelos' fault!!!". Well, according to the ESPN article, that isn't the case. It is really about the legal issues that sprang from the comments of one of the players involved in the trade. One of the Mariners, to be exact. It seems that due to the comments made, there was a potential problem. In case you don't feel like reading the ESPN article, here is the passage in question...

When Jones was quoted as saying the deal was completed, this created a rules question, sources say: If the Jones went for his physical examination, would the Orioles then be beholden to accept him, even if the physical exam did not go well.

The Orioles have asked the Mariners for written language that Seattle will submit Jones and Sherrill for a physical examination by the Orioles -- and if they pass physicals, then and only then will Baltimore be obligated to finish the trade. The inherent risk for the Mariners is that if either Jones or Sherrill were to flunk their physicals in Baltimore, then the respective value of the players would be diminished within the industry.
This becomes MORE problematic when THIS is factored in (courtesy of and
Apparently after agreeing in principle to the deal, the Orioles heard something about Jones having a potential health problem -- a degenerative hip (osteoarthritis) similar to the ailment that ended Albert Belle's career in 2000, just two years into the five-year, $65 million contract he signed with the Orioles.

The medical report on Jones was unsubstantiated and Mariners trainer Rick Griffin told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Tuesday that he couldn't talk about the situation because of HIPPA regulations. General manager Bill Bavasi said: "All I can tell you is that we brought Adam Jones home from Venezuela. Beyond that, we're not saying anything."
So as long as the Mariners agree to cover the mistake that Jones caused when he spoke out of turn, here is no problem. If they refuse, then there is always the chance that they are aware of problems with these (or other) players, in which case the Orioles shouldn't make the trade anyway. But the fans have to immediately jump to the wrong conclusions, which fans have done since the beginning of fandom. However, now that the internet is here, these opinions have gone from bars and watercoolers to in the face of everyone who cares to see it, and in fact we are overwhelmed by it. This is why I try to wait a bit before commenting on anything. I might not have the scoop, but I try to have a more balanced look at the whole picture.
And that leads me to the whole Orioles rebuilding project. Miguel Tejada is gone. Bedard is all but gone. Brian Roberts appears to be heading quickly out the door behind them. Reaction has been mixed, both to the returns for the departed players and the need for / wisdom of their departure. Now for my opinion...
The Orioles need to start over if they want any chance to ever compete with the Yankees and Red Sox. The fact is that with the star players that they do have, they have been a consistent 90+ loss team for a decade. They are not going to win consistently with these guys playing, because they don't have enough around them to do so. So the smart thing to do is to trade them for prospects that might come up in the next 2-3 years (when these guys would be leaving as free agents) and do something. Any time you can add 3 or 4 potential pieces for the future at the cost of 1 piece now that, while it hurts to lose it, it will hurt just as much to have it for 3 years and not have it do anything for you. AQs far as I am concerned, the untouchable pieces of the Orioles are Nick Markakis, Adam Loewen, and Matt Weiters (the minor league catcher they drafted last year). The Orioles have control over them for longer than 3 years, and they have a lot of potential (Markakis is a borderline All Star as it stands today, and if Bedard and Roberts ARE traded, and with Tejada gone and Melvin Mora not the player he was a couple of years ago, there is a good chance he will be the All Star representative for the Orioles in 2008). And if in 3 years the team is not moving enough in the right direction, they can also be traded for more prospects. Once you have a nucleus of solid players (read: more than 2 or 3 out of 25), THEN you go after free agents to fill a weakness. Free agency is not how you build a team (and yes, I am looking at the Yankees right now. They win enough in the regular season, but they have fallen apart in the postseason the last 7 years. Is that just a coincidence? I don't think so). So I am all for tading Bedard, Roberts, Mora, Huff, Payton, Gibbons...basically anyone on the team besides Markakis / Loewen / Weiters that the team can get a viable prospect or two for. I am not a poker player, in fact I never play the game. But I do know the basic concept that if you have nothing in your hand, you fold, save your chips, and try again next hand. The Orioles have been sitting with a hand that was all junk, maybe weith an 8 high, for the better part of a decade. Time to fold and wait for the next hand. The nice thing is, in MLB poker, when you fold, they give you some more chips. Maybe even a blue one.

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