Why not Nori Aoki to the Baltimore Orioles?
To rephrase a popular saying, if you can’t beat him, have him join you. That would be the storyline if the Baltimore Orioles decided to sign free agent outfieder Nori Aoki. Flashback to the ALCS; Aoki seemingly always found a way to KILL the Birds. And in saying that, I mean he found ways to stick the knife in their backs in the most vicious manner possible. A bloop hit here and a broken bat single there…next thing we knew, the Orioles’ season was over.
Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
However it’s seemingly a match made in heaven given the fact that Aoki’s a free agent. The Orioles do have interest in him, although it’s lukewarm at best. Aoki’s a career .287 hitter with an OBP of .353. He also turned 33 yesterday, which makes him exactly one year younger than I. But that aside, would Aoki’s services not significantly help the Orioles, a team looking for outfield help – perhaps for one or two years?
For what it’s worth, my personal opinion is that on paper he’d be a better signing than Colby Rasmus. That’s not to say that Rasmus (who met with manager Buck Showalter over the weekend) would be of no value to the Birds, because I personally don’t feel that way at all. However for a team that’s increasingly looking to get guys on base and get them in, I think Aoki would be a better addition. (Heck, I’d even go so far as to say they should bring them both in.)
But there’s another aspect to this which is intangible. Notice above that I used the term on paper. We also need to keep in mind that the Orioles vet the character and personality of players much more stringently than most teams. As opposed to some teams out there who sign every potential or would-be superstar known to man, the Birds take time to ensure that the player would work out on the field and that the person would work out in the clubhouse.
Now please understand that I want to be very clear on this; in no way am I suggesting that Aoki is a bad guy or that he won’t fit in the Orioles’ clubhouse. Furthermore I’m not a psychologist, and I don’t know how his personality would mesh with the current team. However all I’m saying is that the O’s pay attention to this type of thing more so than do other teams. For all I know there could be something about Aoki that might not mesh in the Orioles’ clubhouse.
On paper Aoki would be a great player for the Orioles in my view. I would submit that he’d also solve the problem of who bats leadoff. But the only thing we can say for sure is that Aoki is out there on the market, and that the Orioles’ do maintain a lukewarm interest in him. My personal opinion is that he’d be a better fit on the field than would Rasmus, however obviously there’s no way to know for sure. But that’s why I called this intangible, as it’s really not something that can be known.
Again, I’m not saying that Aoki’s a bad guy. There are a lot of great guys out there who probably just wouldn’t work out with the current core mix of players that the Orioles have. It’s really just a matter of finding the right fit, both on the field and off. Again, I think that Nori Aoki would be a great addition to the 2015 Orioles. Time will tell if that happens or not. Either way, you can rest assured that Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette will have made the right decision.