Off-season O’s summary: “We saved a bunch of money”

February 02, 2009 | Drew Forrester

One thing for sure, the economy didn’t affect the Orioles and their off-season efforts.

They kept almost all of their money.  It’s hard to feel the pinch when you don’t spend any of it.

The Birds acquired Rich Hill today and he’s likely to battle Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehra for the right to lose to the Yankees on either day one, two or three of the regular season in April.

At least Hill has more career wins (18) than Guthrie (17) and Uehara (0).

Granted, the Cubs got one good year out of Hill, who made 32 starts in 2007 and was 3rd in the national league with 183 strikeouts.  Last year, they got five starts out of him before he was shut down in early May.

Sounds like he’ll fit right in with all the other question-marks the O’s signed this winter.

Did I mention he made $445,000 last year?   

Like I said, he’s a perfect fit.

Here’s a list of the pitchers the Orioles COULD have had this winter:

Jon Garland, Derek Lowe, A.J. Burnett, Ben Sheets, John Smoltz and C.C. Sabathia

Those pitchers each have TWO things in common:  1) They’re expensive and, 2) They have a history of success.

Here’s the pitchers Baltimore wound up acquiring this winter:

Brad Hennessey, David Pauley, Mark Hendrickson, Koji Uehara and Rich Hill.

All of those pitchers have TWO things in common:  1) They’re all relatively inexpensive, except Uehara, who will make $1.25 million LESS than Jon Garland despite the fact Garland is younger and has 106 more major league wins than Uehara…and 2) no one else in the league wanted them…

I said at the beginning of the off-season that I would wait until February rolled around to determine the success level of the O’s winter efforts.

February is here.  I’m unimpressed.

Naturally, the O’s apologists will prattle on about how much “upside” all of these n’er do wells like Hennessey, Pauley and Hill have…”upside” is code word for: “at one point people thought they were going to be good and then they turned out to be not-so-good but maybe there’s still hope…”  

Bottom line:  The O’s could have spent money on pitchers. 

Bottom line:  They didn’t.

The only reasonable off-season move the team made was re-signing Nick Markakis and even that $66 million contract is backloaded to pay him nearly $16 million six years from now.  In 2009, Nick The Stick will perform his services for $3 million as part of his staggered payment schedule.  They also added slick-fielding shortstop Cesar Izturis, but I would have used that money to bring Garland in and would have given the no-hit, good-field shortstop position to Juan Castro.  What do I know? 

I can’t figure out for the life of me why the Orioles are afraid to spend money on quality players.  They have the money at their disposal.  They just don’t want to spend it.  Why not?  If only I could ask Andy MacPhail that question without having him scurry off to the soda table.

It’s obvious the team’s star-studded minor league pitching roster isn’t yet ready for prime time.  Had the likes of Arietta and Tillman been thought of as “opening day ready” the Birds wouldn’t have gone out in search of a journeyman like Hendrickson and a throw-away like Hill.  

With Arietta and Tillman NOT ready, why wouldn’t the O’s have invested some money on Garland, Lowe, Sheets, et al?

Is losing just so acceptable these days that we’ll take the lesser-of-two-evils (inexpensive) and be satisfied with that no matter what the results might be?

I don’t get it.

It’s clearly been an off-season of save and purge for the O’s…

There’s only one way we’ll all be able to determine if the fans buy into the team’s off-season efforts.

Butts in seats.

The green seats at Camden Yards will have the loudest voice in 2009.

If it’s anything like last year, or worse, the silence will be deafening as the customers give a dismissive wave and say, “no thanks”.

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