Baltimore Orioles: Dan Duquette wrong to stand on principle?
Let me make one thing clear for starters; I agreed with the tactics of Dan Duquette and the Baltimore Orioles over last off season. And incidentally I still do. I would submit that far too often in American society these days we fail to judge decisions on their merits in the moment and instead fall back on judging them based on results. Some would argue that the bottom line is all that matters; but if you want to pass judgement on a decision, it’s only fair to do so based on putting oneself back in the mentality of the moment.
In essence, the Orioles weren’t willing to give bad deals to the likes of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. In effect, this is the story that just isn’t going to be allowed to rest. And quite frankly, I don’t feel that’s fair to Duquette, or the 2015 Orioles. Heck, it might not even be fair to the 2014 Orioles – are we being led to believe that their accomplishments were based squarely on the merits of Markakis and Cruz? I would hope that even the crassest Orioles fan out there doesn’t believe that.
We’ve heard the story over and over, but it’s normally told from the perspective that Duquette and the organization were unwilling to pay for quality players. So far as I’m concerned, if you believe that you’re guilty of reacting to yellow journalism. You might disagree, and that’s okay. But there’s one fact that shouldn’t be lost on people in discussing this: Seattle and Atlanta signed those respective players to bad contracts.
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Orioles fans shouldn’t begrudge Nick Markakis for signing the deal with Atlanta, and if his reception at Camden Yards last month is any indication they don’t. However Markakis’ contract was voted the worst in terms of being team-friendly of the 2014-’15 off season. That means out of every free agent deal that was signed last winter, the Markakis contract was the worst value from a team perspective. The second-worst you ask? That of Nelson Cruz with Seattle.
So if you’re saying that the Orioles ultimately weren’t willing to pay what it took to keep either player, you’re absolutely right. And you should be thanking your lucky stars that they weren’t willing to take on contracts like that. As is the case in all things, when buying you need to look for value. That’s how the O’s approach free agent contracts.
It would have been short-sighted to spend that kind of money on those guys last year. The O’s might have gotten similar production out of them this year, and possibly even last year. But what do the end of those contracts look like in terms of player production? It’s obviously tough to say now, however at least in Cruz’s case you might see it resemble the year Vladimir Guerrero spent in Baltimore. As for Markakis…remember those last days of Brian Roberts’ career in Baltimore?
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This is no reflection on any of those guys. Markakis and Cruz were great team guys, and you can’t fault them for taking a deal that was sweet for them. Again, the Orioles weren’t willing to spend the money that was necessary to keep them. But in this case that was a very pragmatic approach on the part of Dan Duquette.
Most of you reading this are going to disagree – and some will even curse my name. Heck, some of you might even say I’m partially to blame given the fact that I support the tactics that were taken. But ask yourselves what you’re also saying; should the O’s have just allowed themselves to be ripped off? Had they countered Atlanta and Seattle’s offers, they’d probably have those players now.
So if you’re screaming at your screen and thus at me, ask yourselves again what you’re saying. We don’t care about the price, as its no object. And here’s the thing folks, understand that sentiment. Do you think I want to cover a non-winning team? But contrary to what you hear on the news or read on Facebook, instant gratification is not always the key to happiness. Pragmatism will always win out in the end. The Orioles basically refuse to get screwed, and they stand on principle when it comes to salaries and value. And for that, fans should be happy.
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