At the 2009 Orioles Fanfest, Andy MacPhail boasted that 40% of the Orioles rotation consisted of international talent. That 40% was Mexican League pickup Alfredo Simon and former Japanese All Star Koji Uehara. This was supposed to be a great development for the Orioles, who were finally making inroads into the international talent pool.
Today, 100% of the Orioles’ international talent that MacPhail touted a year and a half ago are headed back to the DL.
While injuries are inevitable in baseball, the failure of Simon and Uehara represent much more than bad luck.
There is a reason Simon came out of nowhere to become perhaps the worst “number three” starter of all time when the Orioles put him on the 25 man roster to begin last season. Simon was not “discovered” in the Mexican League. The Dominican-born righty was drafted by the Phillies in 1999. He kicked around several organizations’ minor league systems before being dropped by the Texas Rangers organization. According to Baseballreference.com, he lost the Mexican League finals before becoming a late-season replacement for the O’s in September 2008.
Simon is the definition of a “scrap heap” player.
Uehara’s story is more well documented. The former Yomiuri Giant. The 1999 Rookie of the Year in Japan’s Central League was converted to a closer in the years preceding his move to the U.S. Koji was converted to relief for the Giants due to concerns about his stamina. This is the same reason the Orioles were the only team to consider him for their starting rotation. Koji signed with the O’s because the only interest in him from other MLB teams was an interest in his services for relief. The Birds paid him $10 million over two seasons. He has played in 18, 12 as a starter, 6 as a reliever. His unheralded career as an Oriole may be over.
Don’t look for a big announcement from Andy MacPhail today regarding the transfer of his two international pitchers to the DL. This is the guy who told The Sun the day that Brian Roberts was hospitalized for pneumonia: “We don’t anticipate that it’s going to be anything that impacts his rehabilitation schedule.” And here’s MASN’s Roch Kubatko updating Roberts’ road to recovery yesterday: “Second baseman Brian Roberts is feeling better after being hospitalized last week with pneumonia, but he doesn’t have any immediate plans to fly down to Sarasota and resume baseball-related activities. That idea has been put on hold.” What’s that? A setback? Well, surprise, surprise.
I’ve been a MacPhail fan since he took over for the two-headed GM monster in 2007, but in the words of ubiquitous Baltimore defense lawyer Barry Glazer, it’s about time he stop pissing on our legs and telling us it’s raining. Brian Roberts’ extension looks really bad right now. The forays into international scouting were abysmal failures. The Koji experiment, particularly, may have actually set the Orioles back in their efforts to extend into the East. When Koji was playing, he was playing for a losing team in 3/4 empty ballparks. Do you think the hoards of Japanese reporters who followed his every move last year were impressed?
The most bitter disappointments in 2010 have not been the losses on the field; they’ve been the failures off the field, and management’s way of treating a dwindling fan base like we’re ignorant. Things look bleak in Birdland, not just today, but in the future, too.
The young players’ ceilings appear to be relatively low.
The veteran 2B is just hoping to get back to the Canton dog park, let alone a baseball field.
The international players are gone, which is probably addition by subtraction.
Garrett Atkins has no power. Maybe that’s why no other team wanted him.
Mike Gonzalez is in Florida licking his wounds.
Houston and Seattle no longer look so bad for the spare parts they traded in exchange for Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard.
But according to MacPhail, that yellow stuff is just rain.