By doing nothing, MacPhail is gaining ground

December 07, 2007 | Drew Forrester

There’s an ancient story about a Buddhist monk who jumps off of a high-rise building, sees a man in a window, and yells out, "So far, so good!" as he tumbles toward an imminent death on the pavement.

A Zen follower points to that story and offers it as a reminder that you have to find something about the journey that brings you happiness, even if the destination or the result is expected to bring you sadness.

That’s Andy MacPhail in a nutshell.

MacPhail left the winter meetings in Nashville on Thursday with the same baseball team he started with when he arrived on Monday. 

And, while a lot of the city’s baseball fans are up in arms over the team’s inability to make a move in Nashville, I think MacPhail is picking up steam by not doing anything at all.

In other words, "So Far, So Good!"

It’s time for a little dose of reality.  A familiar friend of the WNST Comcast Morning Show made the trip to Nashville with Andy this week – as Austin Powers said:  "Allow myself…to introduce myself…my name is The Cleat of Reality."  The Cleat and Andy became fast friends in Tennessee, as MacPhail saw firsthand just how difficult this O’s rebuilding process is going to be.  Not a single free agent has even sniffed a Baltimore contract offer – and perhaps the reason for that is because maybe, just maybe, MacPhail didn’t make any offers.  And we’re all smart enough to know that no big-time free agent worth his salt would choose Baltimore right now.  The team isn’t going to win anytime soon and no player who can sign as a free agent with a WINNING team would instead opt to sign with a LOSING team.  That’s the Cleat of Reality speaking…not Drew. 

Armed with a couple of players that are both not only valuable to HIS team but could potentially be major additions for a team that fancies themselves an ’08 contender, MacPhail took along the resumes of Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada and slipped them under every door at the Nashville Hyatt.  No takers.

Not one team in major league baseball wants Erik Bedard or Miguel Tejada?

Of course they do.  But what those teams wanted was to fleece the Orioles and steal an All-Star pitcher or an All-Star shortstop in the process.

Do they think Jim Beattie is still running the team?

MacPhail didn’t blink, Bedard and Tejada are still in Baltimore (for now) and, if nothing else, Andy proved to everyone he’s willing to stay the course with his philosophy of building with pitching and young players developed in your own farm system.  Hmmm….sounds like something that might have worked in Baltimore before — say, about 30 years ago or so?

Here’s a news flash for you:  The Orioles MIGHT not win 60 games next season.  If – and that’s still a big IF – Bedard and Tejada get traded, that would put a whopper of a dent in a team that is already struggling for proven major league contributors. 

And if the O’s are 100-game losers next season, guess what?  I’m OK with it.

Why?

Well, for starters, I expect it.  Right now, on December 7, the team has NO closer, NO set-up guy, NO established #4 or #5 starter, NO center fielder, NO left fielder (I don’t count Jay Payton…yet) and a manager with 2-months of hell as his big league pedigree.  Toss in the following ingredients:  they also have a #1 pitcher who has told the team he doesn’t really feel like being here, a 2nd baseman who has publicly said he doesn’t want to be part of a major rebuilding process, an aging shortstop who might be part of an interesting novel that’s about to be published by some guy named Mitchell, and a catcher who nearly hit his weight (.258) last season.  I don’t know about you, but those ingredients don’t sound like a recipe for Chicken Chesapeake.  It sounds more like I’m making chicken-something-else. 

If you don’t think the Orioles are capable of losing at least 100 games again next season, you might want to take a second or two and read that above paragraph again. 

Are you back?

And convinced that they might lose 100?  Me too.

But, strangely, I’m perfectly OK with it.

Really, I am.

I’m ALL for trading Bedard at this point.  I’m NOT all for getting fleeced, which is why I’m glad we have MacPhail manning the good-ship Oriole.  Make the deal with the Dodgers, get Kemp (OF) and Broxton (P) and something else if you can…and let’s move on and start life without Erik Bedard.  I don’t know if anyone knows this – but the team has been stinking WITH Bedard, so they can certainly STINK without him.

As for Tejada, the issue with him around baseball circles - I’m guessing here – is that most teams are probably shying away from him until the Mitchell Report comes out.  At least, that’s how I would be operating, anyway.  I’m sure there will be a "bombshell" or two on that report and I’d hate like hell to be the team that takes Tejada only to find out two days later he’s a big name in the report and can’t play for me for some period of time to start the 2008 campaign.

MacPhail was also smart to not ship Brian Roberts to the Cubs.  And that’s not to say that Roberts isn’t untouchable, because I’m all for trading ANYONE if you think you can dramatically improve your team.  Roberts, too, has his own issues with Baltimore, having been promised time and time again that the team is going to make improvements — and none have happened, of course.  But, at this point, there’s no sense in panicking and just shipping Roberts off for the sake of either making a deal or giving in to Brian’s position that he doesn’t want to be part of a massive, losing-guaranteed rebuilding project.

Don’t forget, you can always trade those three – or anyone else on the team for that matter – next July when it might be "fleecing season" if you’re the O’s and you have left-handed starter (Bedard), a still-occasionally-dangerous hitter (Tejada) and a hard-working, lunch-pail-carrying 2nd baseman (Roberts) who can also hit and get on base.  No need to rush around right now and swing a deal when you can hang on to those guys and really bend some team over in the summer, right?

Patience.  That’s what’s needed now.  Would it have been nice to have made a deal in Nashville?  Sure.  There’s no reason for optimism in Baltimore for ’08 as it is — a trade or two with some, fresh faces and names might have been a reason to light a candle of hope.  Above all else though, MacPhail returned from Nashville without making a forced, silly deal. I’d say that’s a good thing.

So, at this point, the Orioles haven’t accomplished anything in the off-season. 

2008 is going to be a long season.  I’d say, with great conviction right now, it will be the worst year (record-wise) we’ve seen in Baltimore during this "Decade of Despair". 

But, I’m OK with that…because I’m expecting it.

And, I’m OK with it because Andy MacPhail has a plan and, if the Owner of the team will keep his nose out of it, this thing MIGHT (that’s in ALL CAPS for a reason) get turned around before Baby Ethan goes to his high school prom in 2025. 

Andy MacPhail has been on the job for six months and he hasn’t done anything.  And, to me, that can be summed up like this:  "So far, so good."

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