More mystery from the Orioles: Why not sign Garland?

January 29, 2009 | Drew Forrester

OK, so I can’t wait to hear why Jon Garland wouldn’t have been a good fit in Baltimore.

The big excuse this year – relative to spending money on free agents – has been “age”.

That’s why the Orioles passed on Derek Lowe.  Evidently, a 12-year veteran pitcher who has made 32 or more starts in seven consecutive seasons is “too old”.  Lowe’s career ERA is a half-run lower than the league average for his career – but who cares about when you’re – ahem – too old?

So, $60 million for Lowe (he eventually signed in Atlanta two weeks ago) was out of the O’s age range price range, right?  Fair enough, $60 million is a lot of money for a team that claims “we’re not going to win anyway”.

But what about Jon Garland?  Here’s the story about his move to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Anyone else find it interesting that he signed for roughly $6.25 million for ONE season?

How could the Orioles not throw him a 3-year/$20 million bone?

Is Baltimore really that far off the radar screen that Garland wouldn’t take a guaranteed sum of $20 million from them?  

Or, as I’m now starting sniff out, did the O’s just not want Jon Garland because, well, because trying to get him would perhaps show winning DOES matter to them?

Here are Jon Garland’s numbers (notice the age: 29).  You’ll note that he’s NEVER been on the disabled list as a starter.  If you’re trying to be fair (even if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool O’s fan), it’s probably worth noting that Garland is actually YOUNGER than Jeremy Guthrie.  You’ve heard of Guthrie, right?  He’s the team’s incumbent #1 starter for 2009.  Guthrie has 17 career wins.  Garland won 18 games in a season twice in his career.  

I don’t get this.  Then again, I’m obviously not allowed to ask Andy MacPhail a legitimate question about his player personnel decisions.  I tried to do that last week at the press conference for Nick Markakis and when I brought up Derek Lowe, MacPhail scooted off and fired a “let’s just say he’s out of our preferred age demographic” comment as he headed to the refreshment table.

I can’t figure out – after seeing Garland sign for one year at the bargain-price of $6.25 million – how the Orioles passed on him.

Maybe baseball has changed since last September.  Don’t teams still need 5 starters?  Right now, we have two for sure in Baltimore.  Our #1 starter is a guy who has 17 career wins and would fight for the #4 spot in New York or Boston.  Our #2 starter is a Japanese pitcher who has as many career major league strikeouts as me, little Ethan and Bruce Springsteen – combined.  

Why not sign Jon Garland?

If he gets 3-years/$34 million from the Diamondbacks, I’d say, “OK, I realize why the O’s didn’t get him…we’re afraid of paying any free agents decent money for fear that we might actually get production out of them and – God forbid – give the fans reason to think the team might be trying to win.”

I can’t come to grips with the fact that we have no starting pitching, pitchers have been available, and arguably one of the three best free agent hurlers out there commanded $6.25 million for one year and we didn’t land him in Baltimore.

Oddly, the name Braden Looper keeps popping up in rumor circles.  Forgive me for a second:  Are they talking about THIS Braden Looper?

Math wasn’t my best subject at dear old Glen Burnie High School, but isn’t Looper 34 years old?  He’s a two-year starter and 34 years old.  Lowe is 35 years old and has produced four straight years of a below-the-league-average-ERA and we won’t take him?  And, on top of all of that, the O’s will take Braden Looper but WON’T take Jon Garland.

I know the old saying, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”, but I’m really hoping the Braden Looper rumors are just that…and nothing more.

If Looper signs in Baltimore – and Garland and Lowe didn’t – I’ll have to really start to wonder if the team is HONESTLY interested in winning.

I already wonder that…

But I’d have to SERIOUSLY wonder about it if they wind up signing Looper because it would appear they’re almost trying to lose on purpose with this string of puzzling no-signings and (potentially) signings.

“Too old”…”too expensive”…”too risky”…that’s the O’s notepad list of excuses when it comes to signing quality free agents.

Here’s what I’m writing on my notepad:  “too many games lost”…”too many unsold tickets”…”too many excuses”.