MacPhail: “League minimum salary” led them to Hill…

February 05, 2009 | Drew Forrester

Even though the fine folks at 105.7 weren’t TRYING to coax any real, meaty information out of Andy MacPhail earlier today, we got some much-needed details anyway.

Someone called in with their pre-approved-by-the-screener-question about the difference between Daniel Cabrera and Rich Hill, MacPhail shared the dirty little secret we’ve all sort of known for a while but hoped wasn’t true.  ”With Rich, we got a pitcher who is playing for near the league minimum…and he’s left handed.”  Hill made $445,000 with the Cubs a year ago.

MacPhail actually made reference to salary and came right out and said it: The Orioles made a roster decision based on money.  They added Hill because he’s inexpensive.

There’s no salary cap in baseball, so I’m not sure why any baseball franchise would juggle its roster, particularly in the pitching department, based on how much someone makes. 

I’ll buy the argument, if it’s made, that the team was just tired of seeing Cabrera put 11 people on base in 5.2 innings of work.  If MacPhail thinks Rich Hill is just flat-out a better pitcher than 5-walk Danny, I’d probably sign off on that concept.  I said for a long time that Cabrera stinks.  Move him on and sign someone else?  I’m all for that.    

But…how can a team that is generating upwards of $100 million in TV money be that concerned about making a roster decision based on the small sum of four or five million dollars?  

When talking of Cabrera’s departure, MacPhail went on to say, “The money we saved on Cabrera, we utilized with other signings.”  Like who?  John Parrish?  Chris Gomez?  

Wouldn’t it have been more prudent to take the $4 million you would have shelled out for Cabrera and used that – and another sum of millions – to sign Jon Garland for a couple-three years?  He wound up signing in Arizona for $6.25 million.  Before the apologist-committee-to-protect-Orioles-baseball launches the “we don’t need old pitchers” line, it would be wise to check this out and see that Garland is 7 months older than Rich Hill.

Tonight, we found out why the team chose the gamble-that-is Rich Hill over an established veteran like Jon Garland.

Money.

I don’t get it.

I thought we were all paying $2.65 a month on our cable bill so the team would SPEND money on players, not SAVE money on players.  

To borrow a line from John Goodman’s character in “The Big Lebowski” — “AM I WRONG HERE?…AM I WRONG?”

Of course, no one at 105.7 followed up Andy’s “league minimum” comment with a question about signing these roll of the dice guys like Hill, for example, when the MASN money is sitting in the bank waiting to be spent.  

No one asked him ANYTHING about inheriting a franchise with a $95 million payroll in 2007 and reducing the salaries by roughly $30 million over the last 18 months.  

I’m sure Andy would have headed straight for the refreshment table had a question like that been thrown to him.  That’s an inside joke for those of you who remember my encounter with A.M. a few weeks back at the Nick Markakis shin dig.

At least, even by accident, MacPhail gave us a morsel of information tonight that cements what we’ve all been thinking for the last few months.

Saving money matters. 

Quality?  It doesn’t matter quite as much.

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