2011 Orioles Off-Season: Winter Meetings Start Next Week


Next week is when the off-season truly begins. At least the part of the off-season we all care about.

Managers and GMs and a bunch of other front office magnates from every team in the majors will be heading to Dallas to talk, take, and trade. It’s time for the 2011 (or is it technically the 2012?) Winter Meetings, ladies and gentlemen.

Ahhh, fond memories of the Winter Meetings. This is when team’s pay way too much money for players they need and when teams give up too many prospects for an eventual bust. It’s a rush of adrenaline every time you hear the Breaking News sound clip on ESPN and wait to hear if your team has signed Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, or C.J. Wilson. And then there’s the ultimate letdown that Orioles fans typically suffer when, by the end of the week, all we have is a prospect or two that will never amount to anything in the majors because the minor scouting and coaching is horrible.

That was until last season when the Orioles actually did something. They made a huge splash with the signings of Derrek Lee, future Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, J.J. Hardy, and homerun hitting Mark Reynolds. We were excited. We added all this offense and we had Matusz and Guthrie and Arrieta and Tillman and Bergesen and we thought “Damn, maybe it’s this year.”

Oh, how naive we were.

This season, don’t expect anything close to that. Dan Duquette has come out and said it and we all know it.

The Orioles won’t be doing much at the Winter Meetings. Please, Baltimore fans, don’t expect Pujols, Fielder, Wilson or even any second-tier talent. The O’s are going safe. Duquette is smart and he knows he needs to build up the farm system. Andy MacPhail’s plan didn’t work. I know he also believed in raising young arms but he always went after too-old, washed up vets 5 years after he should have signed them (Example A: Guerrero). Duquette knows better. Yes, he will fill some holes through free agency and trades, but it’s going to be another ugly few years before we go after any big names. Why pay $200 million for Pujols for the team to lose close to 100 games for the next few years anyways? It will not get fans in the seats. Maybe they sell out the first series or two, but once the losing starts happening, the fans will stop coming.

You have to win FIRST before fans come. It doesn’t work the other way around. A big name will not bring fans to the stands unless that big name is winning game after game after game. Or unless that big name is Tim Tebow (but he’s also winning game after game after game).

I’m just warning you all. The Orioles won’t make any big moves and they shouldn’t. I’m not even sure if they’ll do anything down in Dallas. Maybe one or two signings but don’t expect much more. To me, the biggest move that might happen is trading Guthrie. For who? I have no clue. I’ll get back to you on that one.