Baltimore Orioles: Are Boston and NY licking their chops?


Rather than write a formal game recap leading into a preview of tonight’s game, I figured I’d change things up a bit for one day. There’s really not much to say about last night’s 14-3 loss to Texas anyways; former Oriole Brandon Snyder torched his old team, Brian Matusz was ineffective, and the entire team looked…tired. The good news was that Stu Pomeranz made a heck of a debut for the O’s, and Jason Berken (who was also very ineffective) handled the relief effort giving the other relievers a break.

Over this past off season we saw a lot of chatter about either trading or re-signing Adam Jones. This same discussion will come up in a year or two with Matt Wieters as well; Jones has one year left of team control (after 2012), while Wieters has two. Many people seem to think that both players (especially Jones) will want to test the free agent waters when their respective contracts are up, lest the Orioles decide to offer them a big payday at some point between now and then. Generally when a player decides to “test the waters” in sports, that means there’s little to no chance of him going back to his original team. Further compounding the matter is the fact that Wieters is represented by Scott Boras, who as we know always gets the best deals for his clients.

Boras also seems to play favorites in terms of teams, owners, GM”s, etc. Guess which two AL East teams are two of his favorites? Survey Says: the Yankees and Red Sox. Withstanding last night’s loss, the Orioles are out to their best start since 2005. So when teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox look at their AL East rival, are they starting to think about which of their players they might like to nab? Both teams are notorious for using other teams as their de facto farm systems. However aside from Mike Mussina, the Orioles haven’t fallen victim to this practice of late. Then again, they haven’t had players as promising as Wieters and Jones either.

No team wants to overspend on players, even players of that caliber. However it might behoove the O’s to at least start some behind-the-scenes contract extension talks with both players’ agents just to get a dialogue going if nothing else. Again, Jones is under team control through 2013, and Wieters through 2014; so there’s still time. I suppose my point is that in this era of free agency in sports it doesn’t bode well for a franchise to bring a player along and let him mature, only to see him walk.

Why do I single out the Yankees and Red Sox? First and foremost because they’ve proven over time that money is no object. However they’re also in the Orioles’ division. How would it look for Adam Jones to be hacking away at Oriole pitching at Camden Yards as a member of the Boston Red Sox? In essence you’d be taking a player who learned lots of great mechanics with one team, only to turn the tables and have him use those mechanics against that team. That’s something that the Orioles can’t afford to have happen.

I was mildly surprised in the off season that Dan Duquette was willing to go to arbitration with Jones, even though they settled a day before the hearing. Some players I have no issue with a team taking to arbitration (ie-Brad Bergesen), however the previous year’s Most Valuable Oriole? Wieters will be eligible for arbitration next year, but I have to hope that Duquette will not repeat his move with Jones. However on a certain level you have to ask yourself if that attitude in itself isn’t in some way damaging a relationship with the player. In that sense you’re either ensuring that he won’t want to re-sign with you, or raising his price against yourself.

I don’t think that the relationship between either player and the Orioles is bad right now, but only they could tell you for sure. I think that they have a little bit of time with Wieters; I wouldn’t want them to go to arbitration, however they might even have the option of waiting through next year’s contract negotiation before starting to talk extension. (Having said that, I think that they should at least put in Boras’ head that they want to keep Wieters.) With Jones, I’d say they should get a deal done ASAP. If the Orioles continue on their current pace, the price might go up. Last year they announced during the all-star break that J.J. Hardy had signed a three-year extension with the club. I’d like to see them do something similar with Adam Jones.

The O’s continue their series with Texas tonight at the yard as the Birds send Jake Arrieta to the mound. He’ll be opposed by Neftali Feliz of Texas. As I said, the one benefit of last night’s game was that Berken and Pomeranz (who again was very impressive) took the full load of the bullpen work and allowed all of the other relievers to rest. As ineffective as Matusz was, he did go 6.1 innings. Given that Pomeranz and Berken did the rest of the work, that was big for the O”s in terms of shoring up the ‘pen. Tonight is a big game for the Birds, as they try to get back to their winning ways.

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala