The Year That Got Away

April 10, 2009 |

The Year That Got Away 

As I sit here and get ready to watch the Orioles game tonight against Tampa Bay I think about what could have been.  I look at the Rays with much jealousy because their suffering through losing season after losing season was not in vain.  Looking at their roster I see no reason why the Rays cannot compete for another trip to the World Series this fall.  Yes, that is why I am jealous.   

What separates teams like the Devil Rays and the Orioles, at least up until this point, has been the development of players within their own system.  The Orioles established this year, with their botched attempt at obtaining Teixeira, that they want to build from within.  The problem with this philosophy is the failure of previous regimes at drafting and developing the necessary talent to be competitive.  The one year I feel that really got away from the Orioles was 1999. 

The Orioles were only one year removed from the playoffs when the 1999 baseball draft occurred.  In this draft the Orioles had acquired 7 of the first 50 draft picks.  This could have been exactly what the Orioles needed to rebuild a farm system that became greatly depleted after two failed attempts to reach the World Series.  Hitting on just half of these picks could have prevented the great depression that hung its hat on Baltimore baseball. 

Looking back at the draft the Orioles failed miserably.  Brian Roberts came out of that draft with the 50th overall pick.  The previous 6 picks that the Orioles had in that draft yielded only one that played big league ball and that was Larry Bigbie.  Now I am happy that we were able to get Roberts out of that draft but picture a few of the following players coming through our system wearing that Black and Orange along side Roberts:  The Orioles missed the opportunity to grab Alexis Rios, Carl Crawford, Ryan Ludwick, John Lackey, and Justin Morneau.  I am not expecting that any team would hit on all of their picks but if they could have got just one or two of their first six picks right, this team might look a whole lot different and the buzz that surrounds the potential of the Rays these season may also have been surrounding the potential of the Orioles.   

If you are a team that will not pony up the big bucks needed to buy a competitive team then you can not miss on the development of the farm system.  I do feel that the new organization here in Baltimore has the team going in the right direction.  In just over a year, we now have a future to look forward to and the future is in Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, Matt Wieters, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, and Nolan Reimold.  Here’s to hoping that if not next year,  then 2011 is the year of the Orioles and if that is the case it is because the new faces in the front office have been able to separate the haves from the have nots.