For Once From the O’s, No News is Good News

January 31, 2008 | Thyrl Nelson

“Thyrl’s Mobtown Blog Pound”

Like most Orioles fans I have been sitting at the computer for the last couple of days jumping from baseball web site to baseball web site hoping to see confirmation that the O’s have consummated the deal for Adam Jones. As Orioles fans we have come to know this process all too well, potential deals seemingly squashed by ownership at the eleventh hour. In this case though, things may be different. The Orioles, for a change, could be dealing from a position of power.

First consider the urgency factor. The Mariners played well over their heads by most accounts, for the better part of last season and still finished second to the Angels in the AL West, and out of the playoffs. They have lots of reasons to be hopeful, but still no good reason to believe that they’re on par with the Angels just yet. Adding Erik Bedard to their rotation would certainly boost the M’s chances substantially.

In addition to what Bedard will give the M’s on the mound every fifth day, he’ll also take the pressure off of young Felix Hernandez to be the ace, and push the newly acquired Carlos Silva one place further back in the rotation. Without Bedard, the M’s would likely be taking a big step back from last year.

The M’s usually conservative GM Bill Bavasi is on the record this off-season as saying that they would not be afraid to deal prospects to get front line talent. Bavasi has also stated more than once to the Seattle press that he felt he’d be announcing a major acquisition before the start of spring training, and hinting that the Bedard deal was close to completion. Clearly the onus is on Bavasi and the M’s at this point.

While teams like the Mariners and Cubs are clearly in win now mode, the O’s are obviously rebuilding. There is far less urgency in a rebuilding effort than there is in a championship run. The O’s are not expecting to win anytime soon, and have two all star caliber players to deal. Surely teams will come around to meeting the O’s asking prices eventually. With Roberts and Bedard under the O’s control for foreseeable future, there is no rush to get things done from their perspective. And now with the Johann Santana trade completed, other bidders are rumored to be entering the fray.

In pulling off the Tejada deal on the eve of the Mitchell report, O’s GM Andy MacPhail scored a big win. Even though most believed that Tejada would be named in the report, few probably foresaw the Congressional troubles that it looks like it may cause him. By washing his hands of that situation, MacPhail looks to have impeccable timing. Perhaps by pulling back on the Bedard deal, MacPhail is showing that again. The Santana trade going down this week certainly didn’t hurt the O’s position.

Having already seen Jose Guillen walk in free agency, and with Livan Hernandez and Kyle Lohse as the most attractive pitching prospects left on the free agent market, options are running thin for the M’s. Maybe this is posturing by MacPhail to add Clement or Morrow to the mix instead of the rumored Mickolio and Butler. If the M’s sweeten the pot, or someone else rushes in with a better offer, MacPhail will come out smelling like roses again.

Actually, MacPhail will probably come out looking rosy either way. If he’s able to turn this ship around and wrestle control of baseball operations away from ownership, MacPhail will be applauded as a genius. If he fails, O’s fans will likely point to Peter Angelos as the cause of the problems anyway, and they’d likely be right.

It seems that MacPhail’s potential trade partners have done all that they can to make it look as if Angelos is still running the O’s. The Cubs claimed that Angelos squashed a Roberts and Bedard for 7 Cubs trade, and now the delay of the Adam Jones deal has the National media pointing to Angelos as the holdup. It’s an easy sell given Angelos’ reputation.

For now at least, it appears that MacPhail is not only in control at the warehouse, but also in the driver’s seat in trade negotiations too. Until it’s shown otherwise, I’ll take MacPhail at his word. If Angelos is holding up the deal, it seems it’s because he’s tough to get hold of this week. It seems, at least as the O’s are spinning it, that Angelos is ready to sign off on whatever deal MacPhail brings to him, although he may be a bit tough to locate.

If the reports are correct, than MacPhail is burning the midnight oil at the warehouse, and possibly creating a bidding war. And Peter Angelos is off somewhere, far away, handling personal business while his baseball people mull over possibly the biggest decisions of his tenure as owner. Isn’t that what we’ve all been asking for? I can hardly believe that I just said it, but let me say I’m happy believing it, for now at least.