Orioles should show Wieters they believe in him – now.

March 06, 2009 | Drew Forrester

Don’t look now, but Drew’s writing ANOTHER baseball blog. 

Those of you who are new to the scene at WNST.net are probably thinking to yourselves, “wait a minute, I thought that Drew guy didn’t like the team.”


Yesterday, I wrote about the O’s giving Hayden Penn the ball after a 7-year courtship and naming him a starter until he either shines or stinks – for good.  

Today, it’s on to an easier debate.  

Matt Wieters.

After a season (2008) of crushing pitchers in the minor leagues, Wieters is now in spring training with the big-league club and, not surprisingly, continues to tear the cover off the ball.

Yet, he’s evidently going to start the season in Norfolk in four weeks.

I don’t get it. 

I know the drill…it’s all tied into money, of course, as is most everything with the Orioles these days. 

If they start the season with Wieters in Baltimore, it starts his “service time” and he can be a free agent after six years.  Holding him in Norfolk until the specified deadline passes (for the Orioles, it’s roughly right around April 19 this year…here’s the official info on “service time”) means 2009 doesn’t count as a “full year” for Wieters with regard to his service time and stretches him out for seven years, essentially.

My question:  Why toy with the guy?

Shipping him to Norfolk to hit .344 for the first 10 games of the season does exactly what for him?  That is, other than cost him a year of service time.

A listener, Mike, e-mailed me today and said, “the O’s are doing the right thing…it’s the difference between having the guy be a free agent after six years or seven years…and it’s good that the team is thinking ahead like that.”

I don’t agree.

Let’s not run around afraid of what might or might not happen in six or seven years.  Let’s operate the club like we want to win.  Let’s go about our business by treating these players with the respect they deserve and let’s not be accused of being sly or devious.  That’s what the Orioles SHOULD be saying to themselves.

For once, I’d like to see the Orioles stop worrying about MONEY and start worrying about treating these players the right way.  They rattled Markakis last year with a $55k raise after a bunch of other guys in similar positions were given more.  They dangled BRob out there for the better part of two off-seasons until they came to their senses and signed him in February.

Money shouldn’t be an issue anyway, right?  We have the $100 million cash-cow TV network on our side. And here’s a novel concept for the folks at The Warehouse to embrace.  Bring up Wieters, get good on the field eventually, keep doing excellent marketing and win some games along the way — and guess what?? People might actually start buying tickets again.  In bunches.  And, if that happens, six years from now, they’ll be able to afford Matt Wieters in the same way the Yankees were able to pay for Mark Teixeira.

Wieters is a rock star.

We all know it.  He knows it.  

It’s not a secret anymore.  He’s can’t-miss.

So, why not treat the guy the right way from day one?  

Let him start the year in Baltimore, trigger his service clock, and let’s play ball.

I’d like to talk about this in detail with Andy MacPhail but I’m prohibited from asking him questions about the team. 

Dilly-dallying around with these young players who are the foundation of your franchise just seems stupid to me.

Then again, who am I?  I know:  I’m the guy with only one listener.