So what’s really going on with LaRoche and the Orioles roster?

December 28, 2010 | Drew Forrester

I’m trying my best to understand what’s going on with the Orioles, but for the life of me, I can’t come up with it.

The New Year is approaching and the team doesn’t have a first baseman, a designated hitter or a veteran starting pitcher.

I have a hunch — my guess is that the Orioles are doing what they always do: They’re trying to get by on the cheap.

If “cheap” wasn’t the issue, they would have signed Adam Dunn earlier this month.

Cheap is almost always the issue with them. Just ask Jeremy Guthrie, who suffered a $125,000 paycut two years ago just prior to the start of the season.

But there’s a rumor floating around that Andy MacPhail offered Adam LaRoche $21 million for 3 years. That was roughly 10 days ago. LaRoche made $4.5 million last season in Arizona.

Am I missing something?

Why would a player who made $4.5 million a season ago not accept $21 million 45 days after free agency commenced?

And why would a team who didn’t want to give Adam Dunn a raise when they offered him a deal four weeks ago give a $2.5 million dollar increase (per-year) to an average-to-good player like Adam LaRoche?

Something isn’t passing the sniff test here.

If LaRoche got a $21 million offer from the Orioles (and I’m guessing he didn’t) and he is still “considering it” than that can only tell us what we already know: He doesn’t REALLY want to come to Baltimore, he’s just holding out for the sake of holding out in case someone’s veteran first baseman tears his ACL skiiing in January and LaRoche suddenly becomes a more valuable commodity.

And if the Orioles DID offer LaRoche a $2.5 million per-year pay increase, what the hell does that say about MacPhail’s off-season?

Dunn made $12 million last year in Washington. The Orioles offered him $10 million a year for four years (supposedly), but he took the White Sox 4-year, $56 million deal instead.

Did MacPhail offer the off-season’s most prolific power hitter a $2 million per-year pay-cut and four weeks later throw out a $2.5 million per-year pay RAISE to the 4th or 5th most sought after first baseman in the winter?

Really? That happened?

I can’t imagine that it did.

Unless MacPhail has completely lost his mind, I’m calling shenanigans on some part of this whole “LaRoche offer” saga.

It DOES fit the Orioles style in one-way: It’s a fuster-cluck, as usual. And because they weren’t willing to pay the required freight (to Dunn) from jump-street, they’re forced to settle for something of lesser quality. That’s not a low blow, it’s just a fact.

I also realize these players use the Orioles for leverage, which is what happens when you’re the kid with pimples on his face who has daddy’s car for the weekend. The other kids in the neighborhood don’t REALLY like you, but if you have the wheels on Saturday night, they’re more willing to be seen with you at the party after the high school football game.

No player of REAL quality wants to sign with the Orioles. For starters, the Orioles aren’t going to pay the required fee, which everyone knows. And even when a reasonable deal is offered, the player is always going to tell his agent, “Baltimore is a last resort. Find me something else if you can.”

My guess is that’s what happened with Derrek Lee. At the winter meetings, the Orioles were quick to tell Lee’s representative, “we can work with your money figure” and Lee’s agent probably panicked like a burglar when he had to call his client and say, “Holy cow, the Orioles just said they’d give you what you want.” Lee’s response? “Find a way to change the deal. Ask for more years. I don’t want to finish my career spending three years there and not playing a game that matters in September.”

Something’s not right.

December is coming to a close and the Orioles still haven’t spent any NEW money on one baseball player.

They don’t have a first baseman.

They don’t have a designated hitter.

And they don’t have a veteran innings-eater on the mound.

At this stage, I hope they get LaRoche. And I don’t care what they pay him. They can give him $30 million for four years if they have to, I really don’t care. If they get Lee, somehow, I’m fine with that too.

All the high-quality first baseman are gone.

But if they really did make a $21 million dollar offer to Adam LaRoche and he hasn’t taken it, they’d be well served to steer clear of that dude.

He made $4.5 million a year ago. He’s earned $22 million HIS ENTIRE CAREER. And he’s turning down $21 million for 3 years in Baltimore?

I don’t believe it.

None of it passes the sniff test.

But, honestly, it does smell a bit like “The Oriole Way”.