I won’t put MUCH stock in the reports simmering in DC that the Nationals are willing to part company with left fielder Josh Willingham and that the Orioles are possible suitors.
The reason I won’t consider Willingham a reasonable acquisition? The Orioles already have a left fielder, two in fact, and seem nearly-comfortable with that position heading into the 2011 campaign. That doesn’t mean I’d have Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold share left-field for MY team if I ran one — because I wouldn’t. But I understand the Orioles greatly value Pie and owe Reimold a second chance to show what he can do after a dismal 2010 that saw him get jettisoned to the bus-league in Norfolk last May.
Then…just as I decide NOT to put much stock in the Willingham-to-the-Orioles whispers, I hear this added little nugget of wisdom: The Orioles would convert Josh Willingham to first base.
And then it makes sense.
Josh Willingham – as you can see right here – is a decent professional baseball player. He’s a right-handed bat, something the Orioles want, with occasional power and, by all accounts, he’s a guy who comes to work every day with his hard hat on, willing to put in his 8 hours of sweat equity.
I like Josh Willingham.
But not at first base.
So I’ll go ahead and point out the white elephant in the room and be the first to state the obvious when it comes to this rumor floating around that the Orioles have discussed Josh Willingham internally and would move him to first base if, in fact, they could swing a deal with the Nationals for him.
If Andy MacPhail’s answer for the Orioles’ first base woes turns out to be Willingham, then MacPhail has to go.
If that’s the best the Orioles can do – with about six potential REAL first-basemen on the market – then MacPhail is no longer capable of guiding the franchise.
Sorry to be so harsh around the Holidays, but that’s the truth. Raw as it is — that’s the truth.
I see and hear the whispers of Willingham to Baltimore and I say to myself, “no way…they’d never try and pull that one over on the fans” and then I look down at the very bottom of that baseball reference biography I linked above and I see what Willingham’s salary is in the $5 million range.
When I see that I think he’s a perfect fit for the Orioles.
Good player? Yes. A “good” player. Nothing more, nothing less.
But a CHEAP good player is music to Andy’s ears.
Except there’s one problem. That “good” and “cheap” player isn’t a first baseman. He’s played three games there in – well – forever.
The Orioles are stuck in neutral this off-season when it comes to first base. They were told “no thanks” by Paul Konerko, got outbid by the White Sox for Adam Dunn and were in position, they thought, to finalize a deal with Derrek Lee until Lee’s agent started taking the Birds’ offer around to other teams for a “can-you-beat-this?” game of The Price Is Right.
There are still capable, competent first-base prospects on the market right now. Carlos Pena is available. So is Adam LaRoche. And Derrek Lee, still. But those three all cost money. To get one, you actually have to fork over years and cash.
Willingham could be had for a song and a promise.
The Orioles better not trade for Josh Willingham and then announce they’re moving him to first base. If they package Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie in separate deals this off-season and acquire Willingham to play left field, that works for me, I suppose.
But if Willingham comes to Charm City with a first baseman’s mitt under his Christmas tree, courtesy of the Orioles, then Andy MacPhail MUST lose his job.
Sorry, Andy. That’s the price you’d have to pay for trying to hoodwink the fans again.