Hey Orioles fans: We still have Izturis…

December 23, 2008 | Drew Forrester

In the end, they both got what they wanted.

Mark Teixeira wanted to go a franchise that contends and plays exciting baseball well into the Fall in front of packed stadiums.

The Orioles didn’t want to spend enough money to get him.  Andy MacPhail said so on Tuesday:  “That was just too much money to spend on one player.”  That’s coming from a guy who hasn’t really spent ANY money on good players since arriving here in June of 2007.  I wonder if he actually understands that most quality major leaguers – including two currently wearing orange and black – want to get paid?

So Tex didn’t want to be in Baltimore, really.  And the O’s didn’t want him, either. 

They both win.

Well, sort of.  Tex will go on to New York and win, for sure.  Forget about the millions…he wins at the bank and on the field.  As for the O’s, acquiring Tex would have meant they’d be “all in”…people would have actually expected them to win.  So, in their world, the O’s claim victory by virtue of not having to fork over $170-180 million (and that’s obviously important to them).  But they won’t win on the field, for now, without Tex.  

The Yankees like to win.  It’s not nearly as important to the Orioles, evidently.

It was like I wrote last week at WNST.net – Playing poker at the $5 table is one thing…anyone can hang around and play a few hands at that table.  But once the game moves to the $25 table, the serious players settle in and bring all of their chips and the rest head off to the nickel slot machines.

And with Scott Boras dealing the cards, this poker game wasn’t for the meek of heart.

As for Teixeira, it was fairly obvious from the start that his “I’d certainly give Baltimore strong consideration” speech was nothing more than idle chatter and a professional way of not hurting anyone’s feelings “back home.”  Had he wanted to be an Oriole and NOTHING ELSE, he would have signed weeks ago in Baltimore.

And the O’s?  Holy cow.  Like most of their seasons have become over the last decade, they were never really in this from the start.

In fact, had this been a horse race, the results sheet would have detailed the Tex-event like this:

New York Yankees – stayed back early, saved energy, came from nowhere to win at the wire

Boston Red Sox – started strong, settled in nicely, looked comfortable throughout

Washington Nationals – surprising early contender, made move at 3/4 pole and looked real, outran

Los Angeles Angels – set the pace, ran gamely, didn’t like the distance

Baltimore Orioles – never a factor, looked out of place, eased

The race was 1 1/4 miles and the O’s were a horse that could only keep up for 6 furlongs.

Perhaps they need a better jockey.

The “industry scuttlebutt” (from someone in the player representation business) is this:  The O’s offered Teixeira 7-years and $125 million in Las Vegas during the winter meetings two weeks ago.  It was their opening salvo and they were the first official offer on the table — and even Andy MacPhail admitted last week that he didn’t expect the Boras/Teixeira team to leap at their first offer.

How can you leap when you’re laughing?

Someone, somewhere (likely Boras, actually) floated a “Baltimore 7-year, $150 million offer” to the media and everyone ran with that.  No one actually ever HEARD or READ MacPhail admit to that figure…just like Boras would never admit to the $125 million offer.  It would have been bad business for Scott Boras to reveal his client’s first offer was a sub-$20-mil-per-year contract – even if it came from one of the worst teams in baseball.

But that supposed $125 million offer from the Birds (and they’ll NEVER, EVER, EVER admit to that because it would reveal, simply, that they weren’t serious) wasn’t a lowball attempt from them…it was just window dressing and nothing more.  If you go to Atlantic City with your buddies, you can’t hang around at the Donkey Kong video game all night.  At some point, you have to play the roulette wheel or a few hands of Blackjack just to look like you’re a gambler or they’ll tell stories about you back home.

I have a weird feeling the O’s will be the subject of a lot of stories when the details of TexGate08 eventually spill out someday down the road – and you know they will.

Speaking of laughing, my bird-in-a-tree made contact with me shortly after 4pm today after I reached out with the obvious question: “what happened w/Tex?”

You ready for this response (it’s in “text-ese”, hope you understand): “$ 4 Tex got crazy quick. we passd.”

In English, that’s “money for Teixeira got crazy quick, we passed.”

That’s akin to going out for a night on the town and having one of your friends do 8 shots of Petrone and then say to you two hours later, “I think I’m gonna be sick…”

Duh, really?  You think?

“Money got crazy, quick.”  What, you thought his price was going to stay right around that $18 mil per-year you guys offered him two weeks ago?

I almost can’t believe I’m writing this.  How on earth the Orioles let a potential Hall-of-Famer born and raised in Baltimore slither away to the Yankees is unfathomable to me.

Oh, that’s right, the money was just too crazy.

That’s what all the orange-and-black defenders will say in the aftermath.

“That’s just stupid money to pay a baseball player.”

That’s what you say when you get snubbed.

“MacPhail is a freakin’ ROCK STAR!!!  We got our man!!  Don’t look now, here we come!!!”

That’s what the devotees would have said had the O’s landed Teixeira.

Once again, someone else comes along out of nowhere, swoops in undetected, and gets a quality player while we sit around playing “we’re not caving in for anyone.”

How come the O’s never do any swooping?  What the hell do I know, maybe that’s how we got Cesar Izturis last week, right?  Perhaps we used up all of our off-season swooping abilities on him.

There’s now wide-spread speculation that the team will trade Brian Roberts in this off-season.

That would be appropriate.

Why keep the good players?

After all, they cost money.

Merry Christmas.

Your Izturis jersey is available at local retailers everywhere.