Orioles: Trust me – It’s the “holiday” season, not “holliday” season

December 17, 2009 | Drew Forrester

So the O’s finally started listening to WNST and the fans again and decided to go out and actually spend some money on baseball players yesterday.

There is a God.

I know Mike Gonzalez is probably deemed “decent at best” by most major league followers and Garrett Atkins is coming off a horrific 2009 season in Colorado, but those two Wednesday signings are fine by me.

The O’s need relief help.

The O’s need someone to play third base.  And that someone needs to be able to hit…preferably, with power.

Gonzalez should help in the bullpen and Atkins will almost certainly be an upgrade over the 2009 combo of Mora and Wigginton.

However, unlike 90% of the apologists who quickly ran to the computer last night and pre-paid for their playoff tickets at the MASN and Orioles Hangout web-sites, I can’t “sign off” on the two signings without at least recognizing that money – particularly in Atkins’ case – was the major factor in the deals getting done.

Atkins hauled in $7 million a year ago with the Rockies.

Reports have the O’s weaseling him to town for $4 million in 2010 with an $8.5 million “club option” for 2011.  If I’m Garrett’s agent, I’d suggest he rent rather than buy.

Here’s why the move really makes sense for the Birds:  The Atkins deal is only for one year and it accomplishes the two things that are most near and dear to Andy MacPhail’s heart:  they save money, by paying only $5, $6,  or $7 million, and the one year deal limits their total financial exposure.

Chone Figgins would have cost them $50 million or so.  They would have been on the hook for that money.

Adrian Beltre would have likely cost them $30 million or so.  They would have been obligated to pay him that amount.

They’re obligated to Garrett Atkins for one year.

That’s the way they like it.

In fact, I’d assume the Orioles (and most teams in the league for that matter) would prefer to just have everyone on the roster on one-year deals.

But the really good players won’t sign one-year contracts.  Not when they get four or five year deals elsewhere.

And Gonzalez was only able to secure himself a two-year contract at $6 million per-year.  He should do jumping jacks and cartwheels today. That kind of expenditure is rare air for the O’s.

So…while I’m accepting of the additions of Gonzalez and Atkins, there’s still a gaping hole at first base.  Nick Johnson and Adam LaRoche are still available, although both of those guys reportedly want 3-year deals and something a little more substantial than per-diem.  When you say “three years” around the O’s, everyone in the negotiation breaks out in hives.

And finally…I spit out my Royal Farms coffee this morning when I read a few internet reports that the Orioles are “interested” in Matt Holliday.

Yeah…well…I’m interested in Alicia Keys.  Really, I am.

And the Orioles have about as much chance of paying Matt Holliday the $70 or $80 million he wants than I do of getting in a hot tub with Keys.

“The Orioles are interested in Matt Holliday.”

Look up the phrase “smoke screen” in the dictionary and you’ll see this definition:  “What the Orioles are trying to do by hinting that they’re interested in outfielder Matt Holliday.”

It’s called, in practical terms, trying to appease a fan base that wants to see the team really try and win for once instead of settling for failure under the umbrella of, “It’s just tough for us to compete in the American League East with the Yankees and Red Sox there…”

Read this to yourself and repeat it if you have to:  The Orioles are NOT signing Matt Holliday.

They are NOT going to fork over $70 or $80 million dollars for ANYONE.  Jesus himself could show up at The Warehouse today with a glove, a bat, and sunflower seeds in his mouth and the O’s would say, “How about one-year and an option at $2.4 million per?”

If Holliday finds the market dry and is willing to sign for one or two years at $7 million per-year, the O’s and every other team in the majors would have a keen interest in him.

But that’s not going to happen.

I think Holliday is VASTLY overpriced and somewhat overrated, personally, but I also know some team who needs help at the plate will take him because – again – teams that want to be really good have a habit of spending money on really good players.

And the Orioles are NOT going to overpay for anyone.

It’s not the way they do business.

They do business by letting the really good players get really good money from really good teams.

Then they go “crumbs-hunting” and sign a leftover for $6 million for one year.

It’s just what they do.

Don’t get mad at me for saying it.  Get mad at them for doing it.

That said, I still like the signings of both Gonzalez and Atkins.

They’re an upgrade, hopefully, over what the Birds had in 2009.

And if they turn out to be duds, at least the team didn’t spend a lot of money on them.

And that, as we all know, is the only thing that matters with our beloved orange-feathered friends.