Last week brought news that the Baltimore Orioles had signed free agent Tyler Colvin to a major league contract, making him one of many outfielders the O’s will have in camp this year. However we also heard that magic phrase made famous by the Grant Balfour case…pending a physical. Colvin has a history of back problems, and sure enough MASN’s Roch Kubatko insinuated on Saturday’s edition of Wall-to-Wall Baseball that there might be a hold up on the Orioles agreeing to and announcing the deal (based on what was found in the phyiscal).
As has been covered ad hoc in various places, the Orioles have a history of scrutinizing physicals. And quite frankly that’s something that fans should appreciate. Keep in mind that Albert Belle signed a five-year contract with the O’s only to play for two of those years due to injury problems. Following that incident there have been several other similar cases where would-be players took physicals only to have the Orioles back out because of something they saw in the results. Most recently we have Balfour, and perhaps now Colvin might end up in the same boat.
Again, I think this is something that Orioles fans should recognize as a positive thing. Why
should the franchise stick it’s neck out on the line on a potential injury risk? People point to Nolan Reimold and question why the Orioles don’t simply cut him loose for the same reasons. That might be a legitimate question; however keep in mind that Reimold was drafted by the Orioles, so they consider him “their guy” already. (I think a team is a bit more inclined to show that kind of loyalty to a homegrown player who they drafted.) Furthermore, the difference in that case is that the Orioles could very easily release Reimold…and he’d probably get picked up immediately by another club (on the Orioles’ dime). That would be the definition of a no-risk move by another team, because regardless of how it turned out Reimold would be getting paid by the O’s.
However this isn’t so much about Nolan Reimold as it is the Orioles’ front office modus operandi. Owner Peter Angelos will always be an easy target for fans. Many will argue that the order to be so critical of these physicals comes directly from him. I would agree that is in fact that case. But again, is that a bad thing? You have to look at all players as investments, and the Orioles want to ensure that the organization gets proper return on it’s investment. Furthermore, we aren’t privy to knowing what the actual results of any of these physicals ends up being due to the HIPPA laws. So is it fair for us to say for sure that the O’s are being overly-careful in these cases?
This is all a tough sell because even if they’re totally justified in pulling out of these deals for medical reasons, other players and agents see that. So while I’m not a big fan of the concept of PR because I think it too often turns into “spin,” maybe there is a bit of a PR hit on the Orioles. So…should the Orioles not scrutinize on these physicals?
Again, this is a really tough sell. I would say that erring on the side of the PR hit is still probably a smart move for the Orioles. Ultimately, if you (or your client) has a clean physical you have nothing to worry about. However I don’t feel it’s unreasonable that a team should expect that their investment won’t have some sort of issue over the course of the contract. Granted sometimes freak injuries happen, and they can be unpredictable. But it would just seem to me that it would behoove the teams and thus the fans to ensure that the team’s investment remains in tact…as best it can that is.