Posted on 06 June 2014 by WNST Audio
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Posted on 03 December 2013 by Drew Forrester
I literally LOL’d out loud (isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?) when word trickled out late Monday night that the Orioles got bent over by the Oakland A’s in their deal involving Jim Johnson.
How could you not snicker at Dan Duquette getting one-upped by the A’s of all people?
The Orioles got fleeced on Monday night for one reason: Every single team in the major leagues knew they weren’t going to pay Jim Johnson the $10 million salary his one-year tender would have required.
You knew it. I knew it. And if dummies like you and I knew it, smart baseball people in St. Louis, Boston, Tampa Bay and Oakland certainly knew it.
How did we all “know it”?
Because it’s the Orioles.
I can hear the conversation now between DD and any other general manager in the big leagues last Tuesday.
“Hey…it’s Dan Duquette in Baltimore. We have Jim Johnson available…and we’d like a really good player or decent AAA prospect for him.”
Other team’s GM — “Why would I give you anything in return for Jim Johnson? He’s due to make $10 million next season. We all know you’re not going to tender him a contract next week at the deadline. Call us back when you’re ready to take a bag of balls for him.”
When it comes to matters involving money, they’re almost always going to throw up on themselves.
Meanwhile, they’ll be getting a new $27 million check this March as part of baseball’s mega-mother TV deal that gives each MLB team a total of $54 million in 2014 (last week I wrote it was $51 million but the number has officially been established by MLB at $54 mil).
I assume Tommy Hunter will be given the ball now and “groomed” to be the team’s new closer.
Good-freakin’-luck with that.
Or, maybe they’ll give 36-year old Grant Balfour – the now-ex Oakland closer – a two-year deal at $7.5 million per-year. Wouldn’t that be so “O’s like”? Let the incumbent go because you’re digging in and refusing to pay $10 million for one season, but give a guy six years older an additional five million on the books because he’s “cheaper” for one season.
Back to the deal constructed by Billy Beane and the A’s.
Like the rest of the country paying attention, Beane knew the Orioles weren’t going to pay $10 million for Johnson’s services. They only have two players on the roster currently who make more than $10 million (Jones and Markakis) and, faced with the prospect of having to give Chris Davis $13 million or more in arbitration, they just couldn’t handle ONE more guy making upwards of ten mil per-season. Right? Right.
So, knowing the Orioles weren’t paying Johnson, the A’s bent them over, sending some guy named Jemile Weeks (yeah, I know you’ve never heard of him — neither has anyone else) and the always exciting “player to be named later” for one of the American League’s most productive closers over the last two seasons.
Wait, I know what you’re thinking…”But, Drew, Weeks has upside…”
“Upside”. It’s a word that Duquette and the O’s cuddle up next to – naked – with the fireplace burning and a bottle of Boone’s Farm within arm’s reach.
“Upside”. A word the Orioles are so intimately familiar with when it comes to taking a gamble on players, they’re buying stock in home pregnancy kits.
What a joke they’ve become.
Wait…did I write “become”? This isn’t new. The Orioles always choose “don’t pay the player” over “pay the player”.
Of course, because you ALWAYS have to mention this, the Orioles COULD be trying to stockpile a bunch of money for the big moment this winter when they fork over a Brinks Trick for one of the game’s talented free agents like Shin-Soo Choo.
Yeah — “and if you like your plan, you can keep your plan…”
I’d love to be wrong, and frankly, the Orioles SHOULD prove all of us wrong by spending some of that $54 million in TV money (plus the $35 mil or so they give themselves from MASN), but I won’t be wrong.
They dumped Jim Johnson on Monday night because they didn’t want to pay him $10 million in 2014. The guy they got in exchange has four more career home runs as you, me, your neighbor’s boss and the guy who took your money at the Royal Farms register this morning.
And, because the whole world knows how frugal they are, no one was at the poker table to play with Duquette when he showed up at 11pm.
Except for Billy Beane.
Oh, and while the Orioles were busy getting exposed, their business partners in Washington D.C. who actually are trying to win picked up a nice starting pitcher on Monday night, acquiring Doug Fister from the Tigers for bucket of balls and a journeyman named Steve Lombardozzi.
The Nationals picked up Doug Fister on Monday night to bolster their rotation.
The Orioles dumped $10 million in salary.
Posted on 03 December 2013 by Thyrl Nelson
The downside of high expectations is the potential for disappointment. It’s a lesson that Baltimore sports fans know all too well. Maybe as Orioles fans we should learn to appreciate that by obliterating our expectations, the team has spared us the possibility of disappointment. After all 2012 was a magical baseball season in Baltimore, mostly because it came out of nowhere; mostly because it came at a point where our expectations as fans had reached their all-time low. Clearly if we had believed going in that the Orioles were a playoff caliber team, if they had given us any reason at all to expect success, then a disappointing flame out in the ALDS would have been nice…but far from magical.
On Monday, the Orioles traded the arguable MVP of the 2012 season for a nondescript middle infielder and a likely disappointment to be named later. The Orioles traded away 101 saves in the last 2 seasons for 1 big save, somewhere in the ballpark of $10 million in 2014.
Now before we get too carried away with the tales of Jim Johnson, departing hero, let’s also remember that Johnson’s 9 blown saves and 8 losses in 2013 on the heels of his playing the goat in the 2012 ALDS had more than worn out his welcome with the fans of the Orioles. The truth of the matter is that the Orioles had to trade Jim Johnson. The unfortunate part of that truth is that they had to trade him 1 year ago, or 7 months from now, not on Monday. The familiar truth of the matter is that other than his $10 million projected salary for 2014, there were no good reasons to trade Jim Johnson when they did, with his value at an all-time low.
Perhaps the rumors were true, and the Orioles will have to live with not parlaying Johnson to the Tigers last year for Rick Porcello, or some other real baseball player. Perhaps Johnson’s overuse by the team was the culprit for his failures at the end of 2012 and throughout 2013, and if the Orioles had paced him better in 2014 there would have been a chance to trade him in June or July for something of value. Perhaps the A’s (notorious for trading closers) are looking to do just that. Undoubtedly, there has never been a worse time to trade Johnson than the time at which the Orioles actually decided to do it, and thus the move serves as little more than a salary dump.
Last off-season was a tough one for Orioles fans to take, as they sat on their hands after giving fans their first taste of contention in a decade and a half. Still it may have been prudent for the Orioles, having seen so many improbable returns on players we weren’t altogether sure about, to give it another season to see if their talent was real. And while 2013 ended short of the playoffs, we did indeed see that the talent on hand was for real (for the most part). Yet here we sit, with plenty of off-season left no doubt, but seemingly on the way to another winter of disappointment.
Jim Johnson, a one time valuable Major League commodity, was traded away for nothing, Matt Wieters another player with substantially diminished value appears to be next, and the likelihood of getting another Adam Jones caliber “home town discount” on an incumbent player in a long-term deal is for now, hopeful at best.
In going “all in” by adding talent during the 2013 season, there was reason to hope that the Orioles had learned a lesson. The Orioles made 3 “major” pitching acquisitions to sure up an undermanned staff in their push for last year’s playoffs. Two of those 3 players could have been signed in the off-season just for the cost of their contracts, without forfeiture of a draft pick and without the need to trade away prospects. After sitting on their hands through the winter of 2012-13 the Orioles paid for their inactivity in prospects.
Boston meanwhile, after a 2012 fire sale filled out their roster with 8 players that anyone could have had in free agency. None of those players got a commitment beyond 3-years, and none cost a draft pick. The Red Sox added those players to a nucleus not much better (if at all) than the one that the Orioles had and walked away with a World Series title (and an extra draft pick if Stephen Drew signs somewhere else) for their efforts.
Maybe the Orioles will put the $10 million they saved in Jim Johnson’s contract to good use and prove my cynicism unfounded. Maybe they’ll hold onto Matt Wieters for long enough to see some of his value return before trading him away. Maybe they’ll lock up a few of their current stars to long-term deals and assure a competitive nucleus while we await the development of “The Cavalry Part II”. But there’s no reason to expect it. Therein lies the strength of the organization.
Those of us who remain loyal to the orange and black do so despite their best efforts to discourage us at every turn. It makes us much happier and more appreciative when they actually do right by us, because we’ve been conditioned not to expect it.
Let’s face it, the Orioles were just bailed out of a contract by the notoriously thrifty Oakland A’s. Talk about an all-time low…