It is easy to proclaim that the Yankees’ ability to swoop in with a mega-deal to sign Mark Teixeira was unfair; and maybe the happening is a sign that baseball is in need of some sort of salary cap.
It is easy to blame Mark Teixeira and Scott Boras for “posturing” with other teams while negotiating the eventual deal that would send him to the Bronx.
It is easy to say “Teixeira was never coming here; he didn’t care about coming home.”
And while maybe ALL of those things are true; there is one more truth that is ABSOLUTELY a fact……
The Orioles had NO interest in signing Mark Teixeira whatsoever. NONE.
Here is how we know this to be true……
1-The Orioles’ only ever confirmed offer was a 7 year deal BELIEVED to be within $140-150 million. After talking to someone who works in the field of sports representation; Drew reported that the deal was probably more like 7 years and $125 million. Either way; the Orioles KNEW from the beginning that “Tex” and Boras weren’t going to sign for less than 8 years. Boras REALLY wanted 10 years (and other crazy things like $200 million, opt-out clauses, and even player option years at the end of the deal); but he was definitely not going to sign for anything less than 8 years.
2-At the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, it was known that multiple teams had made 8 year offers to Teixeira. Even if the Orioles REALLY believed that Teixeira had interest in Baltimore; they were made quickly aware that they would need to up the ante to compete. They might not have been able to offer the 8 years, $195 million that Boras thought he might be able to get at one point; but they knew the eighth year would have to be involved; even if there was a chance the Mt. St. Joe grad would be willing to consider a “hometown discount.”
3-Instead of going back to the table to make even a LOW level 8 year offer; Andy MacPhail went into spin mode; telling The Sun that their initial offer had “flexibility.” I’m going to make a fairly adult reference here; so if you’re reading with a young child; you might want to skip ahead and explain this in your own terms….
I’ve talked to many girls in my day; most of whom knew from the beginning just exactly what my intentions were. If a girl and I were to make plains to meet for dinner; I might be known to follow up by asking something like “What are we going to do afterwards, huh?” and then raise my eyebrows. If the girls follows up by saying “Well, just keep in mind that I’m REALLY flexible”; I might think that means that I’m going to get lucky.
However, the more likely scenario is that when a girl says something like that; she’s saying it to avoid actually answering the question. The real answer is that I’m going to buy her dinner; she’s going to tell me she’s feeling kinda sick, and I’m going to get nothing more than a kiss on the cheek at the end of the night. If she wanted to tell me that the night was going to end with me getting lucky; she would have probably just said something like “well, you outta plan on having me spend the night.”
Much like many girls; Andy MacPhail was just trying to lead us along for the dinner. By saying that the offer had “flexibility”, he could lead Orioles fans (and MAYBE even Scott Boras) into thinking that the team was really working hard in their pursuit of the Severna Park native. If there really WAS flexibility in the offer; MacPhail would have just called Tex and told him to plan on getting lucky.
4-If the Orioles REALLY wanted Mark Teixeira; it wouldn’t just be because they wanted the chance to have a local player stay in the area. The Orioles would have pursued Teixeira because they felt he would provide something to the team they don’t currently have. After losing out on Tex, a team that wanted to fill the role would likely use the money earmarked for that player to pursue another who could fill the role. But Jason Giambi, Adam Dunn, etc. aren’t going to be donning Orange and Black anytime soon; as the team is going right back to their pursuit of putting together a rotation of #5 starters and finding a babysitter for Matt Wieters.
Teams that REALLY want something don’t just move on when they don’t find it. If they WANT something; it’s because they feel they have a need. The Angels and Red Sox will each be forced to find someone who can provide Teixeira’s punch in the lineup; and will each end up spending money this offseason. The Orioles will have Cesar Izturis and the WRONG Jose Reyes.
5-If the Orioles didn’t REALLY want Mark Teixeira as I proclaim; then why would Roch Kubatko say Peter Angelo had an “obsession” with acquiring the first baseman? What good would it do for the team to lie about their intentions?
This couldn’t be any easier to explain. Peter Angelos and the Birds stood to gain a great deal by making fans believe they were genuinely interested in the slugger whose family still lives here. In the same offseason that they added Baltimore back to the road jerseys; the Orioles could convince fans that the local market was particularly important to them by showing interest in the most significant baseball player from the Baltimore area since some fella named Ripken.
The Orioles knew all along that if the Angels, Red Sox, or Yankees came through with a blockbuster deal; they would be able to “cry poverty” and gain sympathy from fans. The organization could make the fans of Baltimore feel important by saying “we really wanted to bring Teixeira home to you; but there’s just no way to compete with the monopoly money other teams are offering.” In fact, that’s just about exactly what they ended up saying.
The Orioles were in a tough spot with Teixeira-forced to have to throw some chips in without actually wanting to get involved in the bet. They would have much preferred to throw the big blind and then immediately fold; but the importance of a player like Tex to the Baltimore market just wouldn’t allow them to do that. I will actually credit them for their strategy; as they convinced many of us (myself included); that there was a prayer of seeing a “Teixeira” road jersey waiting under my Christmas Tree.
And maybe they did the right thing but not offering Teixeira the big bucks. There’s always a chance Tex could get hurt next year and the Yankees could end up spending more bad money.
But in the end; don’t kid yourself. The Orioles aren’t spending the money anywhere else; they didn’t have the money to spend originally. Kawakami, Hendrickson, and/or Zaun will wrap up their offseason acquisitions; and they’ll spend another year telling us we have to wait for the rebuild to run it’s course. The WORST thing Andy MacPhail could have heard this offseason would have been a call from Scott Boras saying “look, Mark REALLY wants to come back home; let’s finalize this.” Then they would have been forced to spend money without actually having a direction for how to become a winning organization.