This column may well come across as a continuation or an expansion of yesterday. Having said that, in that column I mentioned how I felt that the moves that were made in Birdland weren’t being received very well amongst the fanbase. Some of the comments I saw on twitter and on message boards over the course of the day seemed to indicate a degree of angst within many fans. I suppose I would say that if drafting Ray Flaherty and trading for Dana Eveland end up being the only moves that are made in the off season, I would probably join the ranks of the underwhelmed. But…do you really think that’s going to be the case?
In fairness, I understand what people are saying. This is a franchise that’s coming off it’s 14th straight losing season, and each time there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel it turns out to be an oncoming train. However poor personnel moves and bad luck aren’t the only ingredients for ten plus losing seasons in a row. (Yes I said bad luck; while the O’s make their share of mistakes on and off the field, I also believe that there’s a certain element of bad luck involved as well.) They also have seemed hesitant to take any risks. Years ago Mike Mussina wanted to stay in Baltimore, but the O’s didn’t want to risk the extra $500,000 that it would have taken to keep him out of pinstripes. Instead, the Birds have seemed content making moves which make no waves whatsoever such as trading for Dana Eveland.
With that said, I’ve even heard some people argue that unless the Orioles land the likes of Prince Fielder it’s the same old story of doing nothing and calling it something. The bad news is that whether or not the Orioles can competitively be involved in those sweepstakes is another story. However the good news is that Fielder’s still out there on the open market. The Winter Meetings are only the beginning in a sense; there’s still a lot of off season to go. I know what those same naysayers are thinking: “the Orioles have no chance at landing a player of his caliber.” However if in one breath you’re saying that it’s a failure unless he comes to Baltimore and in the next you’re saying that there’s no chance of him coming, what are you really saying?
Can and should the Orioles land Prince Fielder? Survey says: absolutely! However that brings me back to the whole thing about taking risks. Albert Pujols just signed with the Angels for a reported 10 years, $254 million. I’m not going to speculate how much it’s going to take to get Fielder on the O’s, however it’ll take a pretty penny. However what I’m saying is that if Pujols’ case is any indication what most of these guys are looking for is a long-term deal. That used to mean five to seven years. Now the market seems to be yielding eight to ten.
As I said, the free agent signing period is still young. I’m not suggesting that it’s a failure if the Orioles don’t sign Prince Fielder. However there’s no reason why the O’s shouldn’t at least be involved in the sweepstakes. By that, I mean not simply allowing themselves to be “used” to make other teams raise their offers like a few years ago with Mark Texeira. Based on some of the stories coming out of the Winter Meetings, it appears that the O’s along with Seattle are in fact interested. (For the record, we’ve heard that Fielder wants to play in the field; the O’s would certainly give him that opprotunity. Furthermore, if he’s looking to hit a lot of homers, Camden Yards would be a much better venue than Safeco Field.) Again, I’m not willing to call the off season a total failure if Fielder doesn’t come to the Birds, however they need to at least be willing to take the risk in dropping the kind of coin that Fielder is going to garner if they’re serious about improving the team.
As for the moves that were made yesterday, fans should allow the smoke to clear before passing judgement. Eveland is certainly a journeyman, however so was Trent Dilfer when he won the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. As I said, if these moves are the only ones that are made this off season, I would call that a failure on the part of Dan Duquette (and Peter Angelos). But let’s let the smoke clear before passing judgement.
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