Orioles fans should be careful, because Mets fans were once in love with Steve Cohen

The Orioles will eventually need to invest more money in player payroll in order to keep winning. Will owner David Rubenstein be up to the task when that time comes?
Arizona Diamondbacks v Baltimore Orioles
Arizona Diamondbacks v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

The vibes are good in Baltimore right now. The Orioles sit atop the AL East with one of the best offenses in the league, led by homegrown talents including Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman. The pitching staff is top-five by ERA, and the farm system contains four players ranked inside the top 25 of MLB Pipeline's recently updated top 100 list.

The O's are also finally rid of John Angelos, who nuked the concept of spending money on baseball players after assuming control of the team when his father Peter fell ill about five years ago.

Enter billionaire David Rubenstein. The Carlyle Group co-founder agreed to purchase the Orioles back in January and the sale was made official in late March, with the other owners voting unanimously to allow Rubenstein and his ownership group to move forward with the deal.

In the last several months, Rubenstein has seemingly done everything right. From gifting his personal seats to a young fan's family after a controversy at Camden Yards, to showing up as the guest splasher out in the Bird Bath, Rubenstein is working hard to win the favor of fans and develop his image with the media.

But Orioles fans should be careful about falling head over heels for Rubenstein

As we've seen from the Mets' situation, the honeymoon period with a new ownership group can deteriorate more quickly than expected. When Steve Cohen bought the Mets back in 2020, fans jumped for joy thanks to the billionaire's deep pockets and outward love for the team.

The Mets immediately leapt to the top of the league's payroll rankings, though on-field success hasn't followed suit. After selling at the 2023 trade deadline, the Mets entered 2024 with a bloated payroll, a questionable rotation, and a fanbase fed up with the team's front office.

Thankfully, the Orioles have a more competent management group than the Mets did when Cohen bought in. Mike Elias and Sig Mejdal have built a machine reminiscent of the juggernaut they built in Houston a decade ago and it looks like the Orioles are in for an extended run of success over at least the next 5 years.

Rubenstein has only been with the Orioles for a couple months, and there are few reasons to think he won't be invested when the time comes to buckle down. But Orioles fans better believe that time is coming.

Under Peter Angelos' care, the Orioles typically ran middle-of-the-pack player payrolls. They didn't always spend their money wisely, but they at least tried to remain competitive. In John Angelos' run, the O's failed to field a payroll above 27th in the league.

The time will soon come when the Orioles have to think about extending guys like Henderson, Rutschman, Jordan Westburg, and eventually Jackson Holliday. Or when they'll have to think about dipping into free agency or the trade market for expensive players.

The vast majority of MLB owners have proven that they care more about the next dollar than the next win on the field. We'll see if David Rubenstein is willing to put his money where his mouth is when the opportunity presents itself. If he isn't, all of the initial positive press will be for naught.