As far as the Bedard trade goes, I blogged last December about the approach that I would have taken to try to keep him. If you’d like to read those points, the blog is still up, and I still think that it would have at least been interesting to see if the Orioles would have taken that approach. But since it’s official and he is now a Mariner, it’s time to look at the future of the O’s and the biggest obstacle that lies ahead.
Everyone bangs on the Orioles minor league development. Now, by no means am I saying that they are great, but let’s make a list of guys they have developed lately. We’ll go back to 1998, the year that the ship hit the iceberg. What players have come out of the Orioles system that are bona fide big league players? I say, Erik Bedard, B.J. Ryan, Brian Roberts, and Nick Markakis. Now, in that same time period, what major free agents have the Orioles acquired? Albert Belle and Miguel Tejada. Do you see the problem?
I don’t know if Adam Jones or any of the other nine players that the Orioles acquired this Winter will turn into superstars, and quite frankly, no one else does either. But if they do turn out to be studs, will the Orioles keep any of them once it comes time for them to make big money? When Markakis come up, is he gone? Roberts wants out right now, let alone when he becomes a free agent.
The problem that the Orioles have right now is that no established player in the league thinks that they are trying. Hell, their own players don’t even think that the organization is trying. And no one will until the Orioles pay big money for somebody.
A lot of people are hoping that the Orioles movement now mirrors that of the Detroit Tigers from only a few years back. Remember, Detroit was a baseball wasteland, but in their case, the organization knew it. So to attract free agent talent they had to spend through the nose, figures like sixty-five million on an injured Magglio Ordonez and forty-one million on an aging Ivan Rodriguez. They even signed Troy Percival for something like twenty-six million, even though he never pitched for them. Also, don’t forget the 100+ million dollar offer to Juan Gonzalez that he turned down. (Was that 140 million? That’s what my memory recalls but that seems crazy)
Are the Orioles going to be willing to do this? They can sign all the David Seguis and Pat Hentgens and Javy Lopezs and Aubrey Huffs and Steve Traschels they want, but they’ll never win like that. Never, never, not ever.
And before you go into how the baseball system isn’t fair because the big market teams have more money, hey, I agree with you. I know that the system isn’t fair, but it is the system. And while the Orioles cry about it, other teams act. The San Francisco Giants just spent 126 million on Barry Zito. The Toronto Blue Jays just spent about fifty million on B.J. Ryan and then 127 million on Vernon Wells. The Twins offered Johan eighty million. Heck, even the D-Rays are locking up guys to long term deals, like Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, and Scott Shields. I still think that with the lack of income tax in Florida and the fact that so many players have homes there, that if the D-Rays could ever get to the 500 mark, then players would consider them a viable option.
As I said, time will tell how these deals turn out. Sure, I’m curious to see if Adam Jones is the real deal. I’m curious to see if any of these pitchers are front of the rotation guys. But if the Orioles never open their wallets none of this will matter.