When I E-mailed Nestor early this year to see if he was a like mind on how the O’s were treating Koji, I had no idea that that would turn into a springboard for me getting on the ol’ WNST barstool. So, I thought that I would just briefly mention my previous thought regarding our erstwhile import for anyone who may have had a similar feeling.
When Koji was still in our starting rotation, despite my excitement at his initial signing and my wish for him to be successful here, I became more and more frustrated with the excuses being put out by the warehouse as to his lack of durability and overall success. I cannot recall the exact sequence of events, but I do recall such words and phrases as “humidity too high”, “too many innings”, “too much workload”, and finally the ubiquitous “arm fatigue” until finally they shut him down for what is starting to look more and more like the remainder of the season, despite the team’s regular assurances.
I couldn’t help but wonder even then if his interpreter, his agent, or someone who had his ear right before signing that two-year, $10 million deal pulled him aside and said something like, “Bro, do you realize what you’re signing up for? You’re used to pitching a few innings every six days in climate-controlled domes. What are you going to do in Baltimore in July and August when its 97 degrees with 97 percent humidity in a 5-man rotation pitching regularly against the greatest hitters in the world?” I suppose they didn’t, because even speaking through an interpreter, Koji seemed downright surprised at what was required to be successful here.
With 2009 nearly in the books (insert sarcastic comment here) our thoughts must turn toward the make-up of the team in 2010..particularly the various options on the pitching rotation. Are the Orioles going to open up and admit that they may have made a mistake in slotting this guy for the rotation and move him to long relief where he seems much more suited? Or, are they going to be a slave to their pride and put him in the rotation to get pummeled after the fifth inning every fifth day because they don’t want word to get out that we’re paying $5 million a year for a long reliever, historically the unsexiest position on the team?
I’d like to think that the Orioles are capable under the leadership of Andy MacPhail to do what’s best for the team, take the hit, and put him in the bullpen for next season to shore up a very unsteady long-relief choir (going into next year with Albers and Bass again doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence). However, the Orioles of the past dozen or so years don’t exactly have the reputation of admitting to mistakes, so we may have to endure even more “short term pain” until this contract expires. Let’s just see what the Hot Stove season brings…