Tag Archive | "Peter Angelos"

The Sun gets the treatment I said they’d get from The Orioles

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The Sun gets the treatment I said they’d get from The Orioles

Posted on 06 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

If my Thursday edition of Drew’s Morning Dish here at WNST.net was a post-touchdown-celebration, this is what you’d be hearing from the referee.

“There are two penalties on the play, both occurring after the touchdown.  There’s a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration AND a 15-yard penalty for taunting.”

Did I call that one, or what?

As you can read RIGHT HERE, I opined on Thursday that the Orioles would reach out to Peter Schmuck of The Sun by nightfall to chastise him for his Wednesday column in which he wrote, essentially, that the Jim Johnson trade on Monday night “had the fingerprints of ownership all over it.”

Reach out they did.  They had the owner AND the general manager get a hold of Schmuck to “straighten him out”.  In fact, they straightened him out TWICE on Thursday.  His Thursday piece at The Sun was edited twice yesterday (and the headline changed, too) when Peter Angelos and Dan Duquette both contacted him to make sure he got their story right.

I’m a Peter Schmuck fan, by the way.  I think he’s very well sourced in town.  Actually, I know he’s very well sourced.  And, I think Peter knows sports and knows the way things work in this city when it comes to matters of the Orioles.

I also know – with all due respect to Brett Hollander who is doing a fine job as the host at WBAL – that Schmuck would be hosting a lot of WBAL’s nightly local sports coverage if the Orioles approved it a few years ago when the opening first existed.

Yesterday, though, was so “Orioles-ish” it’s remarkable.

I’ve certainly experienced it ten-fold over the years.  Greg Bader once told me in the Camden Yards press box “only one person listens to you”, but whenever they wanted my access restricted (twice, now, in the last six years) they simply took my media credential away and said, “You can’t come in and cover the team…”

Schmuck got different treatment yesterday.  Once he posted his piece on the The Sun website, the Orioles THEN reacted to it.

They’re as easy to read as a copy of Playboy in the men’s bathroom at your local athletic club.

You try to reach out to the Orioles to get some sort of comment from them on any matter and they don’t return your calls or your emails because…well, because they just don’t feel like wasting their time with you.

Until you write or say something they don’t like.

Then, suddenly, their phone or email works.

It’s reprehensible, really, that a “professional” organization operates in such a fashion, but the Orioles have showed over the years an amazing ability to do things completely on the other side of Planet Professional.

This, by the way, is just beginning.

What I mean by “this” is an uprising of sorts from a fan base that is starting to put pressure on the baseball team to step up to the next level and operate their franchise at a level commensurate with the revenue they’re generating from the community.

It’s not that different than what’s going on in the country these days with regard to President and the government in general.  Folks have grown tired of this charade that’s been going for five years and are starting to demand real answers and real accountability.

We, here, at WNST have been demanding answers and accountability from the baseball franchise for about seven years now.

Throughout that time, we were the subject of scorn from “real” baseball fans in town — those at Orioles Hangout, season ticket holders and die-hards alike — who criticized us for our supposed “agenda”.

Now, the worm has turned.

Orioles Hangout looks like it’s been set on fire with a huge number of their sheep having discovered what WNST knew and communicated all along.  There’s outrage over there as they now – in 2014, almost – are starting to hold the owner’s feet to the fire for the on-field product.

Peter Schmuck held the Orioles accountable this week and look what it got him.

Phone calls, revisions and, in general, an orange finger wagged in his face that said, “Don’t you be writing those things…”

I love it, personally.

If the Orioles were more honest from jump street – with the media, the fans and themselves – this sort of stuff wouldn’t happen.

But, they’re not.

And, so it now begins.

The Orioles vs. everyone else.

Only this time, there’s a lot more of “everyone else” than there has been in the past.

Weird how that works, huh?

 

 

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There’s a new three-word theme for Orioles 2014

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There’s a new three-word theme for Orioles 2014

Posted on 05 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

Seven years ago, the three-word theme for all things Orioles was “Free The Birds”.

On September 21, 2006, nearly 2,000 die-hards of the team strolled upstairs in Camden Yards and watched the first few innings of a meaningless Orioles-Tigers game from the upper deck to show the baseball team there are still people in town willing to put their money where the mouth (and feet) is, as the saying goes.

Later on that afternoon, the upper deck was empty when everyone walked out to show their protest for how things were going with our beloved Birds.

There will always be varying opinions on whether or not that one-day rally made any impact on Peter Angelos and his disciples at Camden Yards, but there will never be a doubt about the fact that it got pulled off in All-Star fashion and got folks both in Baltimore and across the country interested in a bubbling fan rebellion.

We’re all “big boy enough” to also acknowledge that the Orioles got their feelings hurt that day and essentially pulled the plug on any future professional treatment of most things WNST Radio.  Funny, though, WNST has survived that bush-league treatment from the Orioles and the Orioles have survived “Free The Birds”.

Well – we’re now coming up on 2014 and it’s time for a new three-word phrase to be the bumper sticker for those of you in Baltimore who still care about the team, buy the merchandise and go to the games.

Three new words — Open. The. Books.

It’s time for the Orioles to man-up and open their operating books and give the public a real glimpse into their day-to-day operational costs, revenue, expenses and financial obligations.

I am NOT saying to literally have a press conference and distribute a 9-page booklet with every single line item on the revenue and expense side exposed and explained.  I wouldn’t expect that.

What I am saying, though, is the club should provide a “general overview” of their revenue and expenses to give everyone in town an idea of their business approach and why, for example, the (insert team here) will be able to give Shin-Soo Choo $90 million for six years but the Orioles can’t afford to do that.

Tell everyone — the people in town who keep your business afloat — how much you’re spending on scouting.  Is it $8 million?  $15 million?  $22 million?  Tell everyone what your travel costs are.  $3.2 million?  $6.1 million?  Give us an idea of what you’re spending in the minor league system.  $11.5 million?  $14.2 million?

Give us a general update of the revenue:  Tickets, sponsorship sales, concessions.  We already know the TV money.  Those numbers ARE public, which I’m quite certain drives the Orioles completely bonkers.  They’ll be taking in somewhere around $85 million in 2014 just from television revenue alone when you combine their national “take” ($55 million) and local haul ($30 million).

And, for those of you who are going to say “no team in baseball would open their books” you better READ THIS RIGHT HERE  from the owner of the Colorado Rockies.

Why is “Open The Books” important?

That’s easy.

No one believes the Orioles when they say, “We don’t have the RESOURCES (that’s the word Dan Duquette uses these days when referring to money) to compete with these BIG MARKET franchises.”

I know I certainly don’t believe it.

Unless you’re from Old Mill High School or you’re naive or you’re a dummy or you’re an apologist, you don’t believe it either.

Some baseball fans in Denver didn’t think the Rockies were doing all they could do to win based on their financial formula, so their owner said, “Well, we’ll show you how our business works.  If you don’t believe us, we’ll prove it to you.”

I’ll remind everyone that about twelve or so years ago, Peter Schmuck of The Sun floated this idea about “opening the books” and the Orioles brass went completely ballistic.  They cold shouldered Schmuck, refused to do interviews with the Sun, tongue-kissed the Washington Post and, in general, did what they always do when things don’t go their way — treated him unprofessionally.

Speaking of Schmuck, the piece he wrote yesterday at The Sun will absolutely result in a phone call (already has, likely) from Greg Bader of the Orioles who will go to great lengths to point out where Schmuck was wrong in his opinion that the Orioles look like they don’t know what they’re doing.

If you think that’s just Drew being paranoid or picking on the Orioles, get a glass of wine with Schmuck one night and ask him how many times the Orioles PR folks have accosted him over the years about something he wrote in the newspaper.  I know the truth.

I implored the Orioles to put BALTIMORE on their road uniforms for the better part of two seasons (they angrily called it a “crusade” in-house) and they took my daily press credential from me in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

That’s what they do.

And yes, there’s a risk that being the self-called campaign crusade-manager for the new “Open The Books” request might get me mistreated even more than I already have been…but they stole my press credential in September and I didn’t even do anything wrong, so I’m not in danger of losing anything else of importance.

The Orioles should open their books and show the people who FUND THEIR BUSINESS where their money goes.

If they spent money on baseball players and tried to compete with the rest of the big boys, we wouldn’t need to peer in their closet.

The baseball team in Baltimore has gobs and gobs of money.  A lot of it comes from you and I.  We’d just like to know what they’re doing with it, that’s all.

Open the books, Orioles.

We’ll officially call it:  Open the books 2014.

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Johnson Trade Too Little, Too Late

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Johnson Trade Too Little, Too Late

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Brett Dickinson

Its official; no one will get that queezy feeling at Camden Yards in the 9th inning, when hearing “The Pretender” anymore.  Jim Johnson was moved to the Oakland Athletics for second baseman,  Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later.  What a difference a year makes.

Jim JohnsonIf the Orioles moved Johnson before last season (like I said here and here), they would have had a pick of the litter of players from several different contending teams.  What would have the Tigers or Dodgers or Cardinals have done to sure up their closing roles before 2013? It sure as hell would have been more than a 26 year old second baseman with “potential.”

The lack of proactive nature by the organization has cost the Orioles a great deal, in terms of on-field production.  Johnson has been a good relief pitcher for years, but his value was at his highest at the end of 2012 playoff season.  For a team that wants to build with youth, to sustain success for the future, making tough decisions, with generally likeable guys, is simply a must.

Jemile WeeksAs for the return, Baltimore receives a player, in Weeks, that could be the everyday second baseman (but confidence in that actually panning out has to pretty low at this point).  After being called up in 2011 (which he played 96), he posted a .303 average and .421 OPS, with 22 stolen bases. But following his stellar first MLB season, things went awfully wrong for the 12th overall pick in the 2008 draft.  Hitting just .211 in 2012, leading to a demotion by the A’s; playing in only nine games in the majors in 2013.  Though he had decent numbers in the minors last season (.271 avg, .376 OPS, 17 stolen bases), Weeks could not have foreseen his career path heading in this direction.

But what could Orioles really expect to recoup in a trade for a player everyone in the MLB knows they will not pay $10 million?  Johnson was one of the most inconsistent relief pitchers in baseball last year; leading the league in saves and blown saves. He never had dominating “stuff” to finish out games, did not have enough strikeouts as a closer and put too many runners on base.

Could Johnson have contributed for the Orioles in 2014? Absolutely.  If Buck Showalter would move him back into a less-volatile role, in the 7th or 8th inning (like he was pre-2012), there is a good chance he could regain his form.  But with the manager’s loyalty, Buck would probably be too tempted to throw Johnson into a game with a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth.  The team simply had to move on and got the only thing possible in return; potential.

Jim JohnsonThe same fans that wanted to DFA (designate for assignment), essentially releasing Johnson for nothing, halfway through last year, now are complaining about the balance of this trade.  As for the organization “saving” all that money, this is baseball, there is no salary cap, teams can pay players whatever they like. There is no cash limit in baseball that teams have to adhere to and the Orioles are no where near the luxury tax threshold. And with an organization that has a successful television network, cost-cutting on a contending team is inexcusable.

Did the Orioles clear some dead money off the books? Yes. Will they use that money to acquire much needed depth on the big league club? Only the next couple weeks will tell. Of course, Peter Angelos could just pocket that money and let his “baseball people” make the baseball decisions, with the roster as it stands.

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“I don’t care what you say…the Jets aren’t coming to Baltimore and winning.”

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“I don’t care what you say…the Jets aren’t coming to Baltimore and winning.”

Posted on 22 November 2013 by Drew Forrester

By this time next Friday, the shape of the Ravens and their playoff run will be in full bloom.

If they win both, that gives them a great chance to sneak in somehow, pending a successful December and/or some assistance from others in the AFC.

Given that both games — Sunday vs. the Jets and Thursday night vs. the Steelers — are in Baltimore, you have to like the chances of John Harbaugh’s team over the next six days.

Pittsburgh stinks.

So do the Jets.

And, yes, the Ravens are a 4-6 team, I know that…and their record indicates “we stink”, too.

But when two stinky teams meet up, the team stinking at home usually wins.  See this year’s Bills/Ravens and Browns/Ravens games, for example.  Or that Ravens/Steelers game in Pittsburgh back in October.

The Ravens aren’t losing at home on Sunday to a woeful offensive bunch like the New York Jets.

I realize the New York defense is pretty good, which could pose problems for a Baltimore offense that struggles to put together four good quarters of activity on the same Sunday, but unless that Jets defensive unit can shut out the Ravens, I can’t see any way possible Rex Ryan leaves Baltimore with a smile on his face late Sunday night.

The Jets won’t reach the end zone on Sunday.  Ravens win in a semi-laugher, 23-9.

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Peter Angelos donated $2.5 million to Franklin Square Hospital earlier this week.

His name is attached to several buildings in Baltimore now, a noble gesture from any citizen, no matter how much money you have in the bank.

I’ve said this for a long time now and it will always be worth repeating a few times a year.

Peter Angelos has, in my opinion, not been a very good owner of the Orioles since 1993.  Even today, mostly removed from the day-to-day doings of the organization, his stewardship can be questioned if only by virtue of some of the people employed by him in the team’s front office.  That said, Angelos has done a lot of good for the “non-baseball” community over the last twenty years with donations and financial assistance provided to numerous organizations that make Baltimore a better place.  It’s a shame his good deeds haven’t been publicized the right way by “his people”.

We all might understand Peter Angelos better if, in fact, he was willing to admit he’s a lot more like the rest of Baltimore than he’s evidently willing to admit.

 

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The Giants got Tim Hudson, the Orioles got a guy you’ve never heard of…ever.

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The Giants got Tim Hudson, the Orioles got a guy you’ve never heard of…ever.

Posted on 20 November 2013 by Drew Forrester

I’m the guy who has been telling callers and e-mailers over the last month that the Orioles aren’t going to sign any “real” free agents this off-season.

So, why would I be chirping about the Birds not having any interest in Tim Hudson?

Beats me.

Probably because I still have this wacky, bass-ackwards idea that one of these days, the Orioles just might actually spend some of that money they’ve been stacking up for the last seven years since they birthed MASN and started collecting money from everyone in the market via your monthly cable bill.

Here’s the funny addendum to that.  This March, the Orioles and the rest of the 29 other MLB teams get a NEW $27 million check as part of the league’s national TV package.

I have no idea if Tim Hudson would have come to Baltimore.

He was well situated in Atlanta, having grown up and gone to high school in nearby Alabama, so a move to San Francisco seems somewhat odd for a guy that you assume would be looking to stay closer to home as his career comes to an end.

I’m sure his $23 million/2-year deal in S.F. made him nearly untouchable in Baltimore, where the Orioles have signed only two free agents – EVER – for more than $10 million a year (Albert Belle and Miguel Tejada).

Way back when, as Peter Angelos discussed the unveiling of the MASN TV network, he authored one of the most telling quotes in his now 20 years of Orioles ownership.

Asked about the prospect of signing then-high profile pitcher Roy Oswalt, who was asking for $100 million for 7 years, Angelos quipped:  ”I just don’t see the logic in spending $14 million a year for someone who only works once every five days.”

Not surprisingly, the Orioles have never signed a quality free-agent starting pitcher.

Tim Hudson has enjoyed an outstanding major league career.  He’s not a Hall of Fame candidate, but he’s certainly going to make a speech someday at the Hall of Very Good.  He has 205 wins spread out over 15 seasons and his lifetime ERA of 3.44 is better than a lot of guys who ARE in the Hall of Fame.

Yes, he’s coming off a bad leg injury, but he doesn’t pitch with his leg.  He uses his shoulder, arm and hand to do that.

At age 38, he’s in the November of his career, for sure, but he’s better than Miguel Gonzalez, Scott Feldman and Bud Norris, although all three of those pitchers are admittedly younger and have less tread on their tires.

I’m not surprised the Birds didn’t have an interest in Hudson.  He’s the anti-Oriole signing, frankly.  He’s a player with a track record and a sparkling career resume who won’t come here and work for $37.00 an hour the way a guy like Kelvin Dela Cruz will, who signed in Baltimore earlier this week after eight so-so seasons with — you ready — a bunch of minor league teams scattered all over baseball.

There’s a lot of hot stove action to go and maybe the O’s will stun us all with a signing of Carlos Beltran or A.J. Burnett or perhaps they’ll pull off a trade for a Jose Bautista or Ian Kinsler.

I’d love to see some of that activity.

I want the Orioles to get better.

But, as I’ve been warning a lot of you over the next four weeks, don’t hold your breath for any kind of improvement that includes SPENDING MONEY ON OR PAYING FOR REALLY GOOD PLAYERS.

It’s just not in the cards, no matter how much money you and I continue to contribute to the Orioles organization via our monthly Verizon or Comcast payment.

The Giants got Tim Hudson.

The Orioles got some guy named Kelvin Dela Cruz who has as many career major league strikeouts as you, me and Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden.

To borrow a phrase:  ”It’s the Oriole way”.

 

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Orioles eyeing more with trade deadline approaching?

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Orioles eyeing more with trade deadline approaching?

Posted on 28 July 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Already more active than most contending clubs with the non-waiver trade deadline just a few days away, the Orioles reportedly may not be finished dealing.

The additions of pitchers Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez have helped bolster their starting rotation and bullpen respectively, but executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette could be eyeing even bigger names, according to several media reports. The Orioles are looking to add a front-end starting pitcher and are among the teams interested in White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

The 32-year-old Peavy is 8-4 with a 4.28 earned run average in 13 starts this season and has a $13.5 million salaries in 2013 and 2014 and has a player option of $15 million for the 2015 season.

Other pitchers who are candidates to be traded include Houston’s Bud Norris — a starter the Orioles will see on Tuesday — and Kansas City’s Ervin Santana, but Heyman also discussed the possibility of Phillies starter Cliff Lee being dealt. However, Lee is making $25 million in 2013 and the two seasons that follow and a $27.5 million vesting option for the 2016 season, making it virtually impossible to think a team like the Orioles would have any real interest.

Lee would provide the most dramatic upgrade to any rotation as he is 10-4 with a 3.05 ERA in 20 starts this year, but it remains unclear whether the Phillies will actually trade him for the right offer.

The Orioles may also be in the market for another bat as Twins designated hitter Justin Morneau has been discussed as a possible acquisition, according to The Sun. The 2006 American League MVP is 32 and will see his contract expire at the end of the season, meaning the Orioles would only be on the hook for roughly $5 million or so of his $14 million salary in 2013.

Morneau is hitting .267 with eight home runs and 53 runs batted in this season.

Other DH options who could be potentially available include Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales, and even the currently-injured Michael Morse of Seattle. ESPN’s Buster Olney has also mentioned San Diego outfielder Carlos Quentin as a possibility, but he is owed a combined $17.5 million in 2014 and 2015 and has a long history of difficulty staying on the field due to injuries.

While the Orioles could stand to upgrade the DH spot that’s been an albatross all season and add a starting pitcher as Jason Hammel once again struggled on Sunday, it’s difficult to envision Duquette gaining the clearance from owner Peter Angelos to add much more payroll to what’s already an estimated $92 million club.

In addition to the money, the Orioles just traded infield prospect Nick Delmonico — not a can’t-miss talent, mind you — for Rodriguez and have given no indication that they’re willing to deal the likes of pitcher Kevin Gausman or infielder Jonathan Schoop in order to acquire premium — and expensive — talent. The commodities to acquire top talent just aren’t there unless the Orioles want to completely strip a farm system they’re trying to build through the draft and international scouting.

The lineup has struggled of late, but the Orioles entered Sunday ranked third in the majors in runs scored, fourth in batting average, and first in home runs. Paying the price in both prospects and money for a decent lineup upgrade in Morneau wouldn’t seem to be the best use of resources if it’s possible to find an improvement for the starting rotation as Hammel has struggled all season after taking the ball for manager Buck Showalter on Opening Day.

Of course, none of these reports mean the Orioles will pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal, but the names being tossed around certainly don’t seem to fit with the Orioles’ philosophy and payroll in recent years.

 

 

 

 

 

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Good news: MASN airing six Orioles spring training games. Bad news: They play 33 of them.

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Good news: MASN airing six Orioles spring training games. Bad news: They play 33 of them.

Posted on 04 March 2013 by Drew Forrester

It would be hard to debate that perhaps the greatest invention in sports over the last 50 years has been the “regional sports network”.

Some folks would refer it to more has “highway robbery”.  They’d have a valid point.

The concept is so elementary, a caveman could figure it out:  Start your own TV network, show a “demand” for it, run the network through your local cable operator and then, in the best scam of the last 200 years, have your monthly “fee” be paid by the consumers — even those who don’t ever use your product.

And if you start the network and the government doesn’t agree with your stipulation that demand warrants the inclusion of the fee in monthly cable bill, you just sue the government.  They won’t want to fight you and within 12-18 months, you’ll be milking your very own cash cow.

The list of teams that have pulled this stunt is growing by the year.  The Yankees and Red Sox were the first to perfect it.  The various Los Angeles teams in basketball and hockey have been raking in TV money as far back as a thing called “Prime Ticket” out west, but only now are they starting to see the benefits of owning the network yourself.  The Texas Rangers will be pulling in upwards of $100 million via their RSN in the next couple of years.  So will the Angels.

And, then, of course, we have our beloved Birds.

The Orioles’ owner, Peter Angelos, started the Middle Atlantic Sports Network back in 2006, with the promise of his own RSN establishing enough of a consistent revenue base to do battle with those rat finks in New York and Boston.

This, what I’m writing today, isn’t about the years of money that Peter collected and then didn’t spend on the team.  We’ve all seen that movie and reviewed it a dozen or two times.  We know the club’s roster has been shortchanged over the years as it relates to quality players.  No need to travel there today.

No — what I’m puzzled by is yet another botched marketing and PR opportunity from both MASN and the Orioles.  OK, let’s just admit they’re one and the same and I’ll keep calling them “the Orioles” for purposes of this piece.  Anyway, the Orioles have thirty three “official” spring training games in February and March.  Guess how many the team will air on its own TV network?  Six. That’s it.  Six.  Oh, by the way, three of the six are taped delayed, not live.

Six of thirty-three games will be on TV and they own the network that airs the games.

Unreal.

At least air all of the home games, right?  I can at least almost understand not airing a game from Ft. Myers or Dunedin.  But you have 16 home games in Ed Smith Stadium.  Put all of them on MASN.  And, for sure, you can do some split-feed stuff with the Yankees and Pirates and Phillies when you face them in Tampa or Bradenton or Clearwater througout March.

Last year’s magical season and dramatic 5-game series loss to the Yankees actually left the community as a whole longing for March 2013 and spring training baseball.

For years – about fourteen to be exact – only 149 people in Baltimore even cared about spring training when it rolled around every February.  Grapefruit League games were met with yawns and the fans had little interest in who was doing well, who wasn’t, who was making the team and who needed to go 2-for-3 today to have a chance of sticking around.

Spring training baesball, though, has an allure to it that reaches far past sports.  It’s called spring training for a reason.  It marks the beginning of s-p-r-i-n-g.  People love spring.  It dawns a new year, essentially.  Warm weather is on the way.  Sunshine.  Summer days beckon.  When baseballs are thrown, the days seem brighter and longer.

And after a whopper of a season in 2012, you would think the Orioles would go completely out of their way to capitalize on that energy by airing spring training baseball in March of 2013.

(Please see next page)

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Orioles’ listless offseason leaves sour taste instead of excitement

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Orioles’ listless offseason leaves sour taste instead of excitement

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Luke Jones

This was supposed to be the most exciting start to spring training of the last 15 years as Orioles pitchers and catchers reported to Sarasota on Tuesday.

To be fair, it still is as the Orioles come off their first playoff appearance since 1997, but that wasn’t exactly a daunting standard to top after a string of 14 consecutive losing seasons was snapped last year. However, that positive feeling isn’t nearly as overwhelming as it should be as we hear the predictable reports this week of players being in the best shape of their lives and others eyeing career seasons after making adjustments over the winter.

Even with the memory of the Ravens winning the Super Bowl fresh in our minds, the city should be abuzz over the Orioles after one of the most exciting seasons in the 59-year history of the franchise in which a club expected to finish fifth in the American League East won 93 games and prevailed in the inaugural AL Wild Card game to advance to the AL Division Series. But instead of using the success of 2012 to springboard the Orioles to new heights and capitalizing on their karma with a productive offseason, the Orioles and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette largely stood pat.

The Orioles appeared dormant to put it mildly while harsher critics believe Duquette and the front office rested on the laurels of the unlikeliest of seasons instead of striking while the iron was hot to add talent to a roster that overcame countless flaws last season. No matter how you want to describe or justify it, the Orioles didn’t do enough to make improvements to a club that deserved better after one of the most remarkable seasons in team history. They didn’t spend money or even pull the trigger on a notable trade like they did last year when they sent veteran starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado for pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, a move that worked beautifully for the Orioles.

This winter, Baltimore parted ways with first baseman Mark Reynolds and pitcher Joe Saunders, re-signed left fielder Nate McLouth, traded second baseman Robert Andino, and acquired infielders Alexi Casilla, Danny Valencia, and Travis Ishikawa. That essentially brings you up to speed if you were hibernating all winter and aren’t concerned with a few other waiver-wire additions and minor-league signings, which — in fairness to Duquette — could bring this year’s version of Miguel Gonzalez or McLouth to light at some point.

The idea of parting ways with Reynolds would have been acceptable had the Orioles found an upgrade such as signing veteran first baseman Adam LaRoche or trading for Kansas City’s Billy Butler, but they elected to solve the problem from within by sliding Chris Davis to the position. In turn, that’s created a question mark at designated hitter as a platoon of Wilson Betemit and a right-handed bat to be named later will be counted on to hold down that spot in the order.

Instead of looking to the free-agent market to find an established bat such as veteran Torii Hunter — who signed a two-year, $26 million deal with Detroit — to man left field, the Orioles will pray for the health of Nolan Reimold and hope McLouth can build on two strong months of play last season that resurrected his big-league career from life support.

Few expected the Orioles to be players for the top commodities on the market — outfielder Josh Hamilton and starting pitcher Zack Greinke — but “kicking the tires” was as far as the organization was willing to go on any free agent of even modest note. Avoiding a $150 million contract is understandable and even prudent, but avoiding the open market like the bubonic plague is disappointing.

Duquette vowed that the Orioles would look to acquire a middle-of-the-order bat and another veteran starting pitcher but has done neither to this point. While it’s true the free-agent market was lukewarm in terms of talent, take a look at the number of trades that went down around the big leagues this winter and you’ll find plenty that didn’t involve an organization parting with its top prospect, dispelling the notion that the Orioles would have needed to part with top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy to fetch anything of value.

Their payroll did climb as the Orioles dealt with a number of arbitration-eligible players in line for raises, but that’s simply the price of doing business and not a real reflection of trying to improve your club. The payroll increased from an estimated $84 million in 2012 to closer to the $90 million range at the start of spring training.

All those excuses sound too familiar for an organization that appeared to turn the corner last season. Instead of building on their success, the Orioles didn’t spend money or make a single addition — and, no, re-signing McLouth wasn’t an addition since he was already in Baltimore — that appears primed to help move the meter in the AL East.

It’s disappointing after such an enjoyable year.

In truth, there are still plenty of reasons for optimism as All-Star players Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are in their respective primes, talented 20-year-old third baseman Manny Machado will play his first full season in the majors, and Bundy and 2012 first-round pick Kevin Gausman could make an impact before the season is over.

A rotation including Hammel, Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, and Chris Tillman appears promising, but all four are also coming off career seasons that will need to be built upon. The names vying for the fifth spot in the rotation haven’t changed as Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, and Steve Johnson are all in the mix.

One of the best bullpens in baseball from last season remains intact, but relievers are also as unpredictable as the stock market from year to year.

Maybe the Orioles will be poised to finish 29-9 in one-run games and win 16 straight extra-inning games as they did last season, but both figures were historically remarkable and more anomalies than standards you could possibly expect to repeat, even with a shrewd manager such as Showalter.

Instead of a offseason that included a couple impact acquisitions to augment the progress made last year, we’re once again left with too many ifs and maybes, a familiar story for a organization with a group of players that deserved much better after the work they put in last season.

To truly feel confident in the Orioles’ ability to build upon the magic of last season — or even maintain it — Duquette, the front office, and ownership needed to take advantage of that fortune and simply didn’t. Finally poised with an opportunity to sell Baltimore as one of the most desirable destinations in all of baseball and Showalter as a manager players would love to play for, the Orioles instead stood pat with the hope that lightning would strike twice this season.

The Orioles may still compete this season, but a listless offseason did nothing to build confidence that they will do it again.

We’ll still look forward to spring training more than we have in a long time, but it could have been that much more exciting.

And I suppose the Orioles will once again need to prove us all wrong.

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Something’s not adding up in the Mark Reynolds saga

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Something’s not adding up in the Mark Reynolds saga

Posted on 01 December 2012 by Drew Forrester

I always have to say this when the conversation comes around to Mark Reynolds.

I wouldn’t have him on MY team.  Even at first base, where he was acceptable with the glove, the holes in his offensive game were so gaping and costly that he wouldn’t be employed by me.

But I don’t run the Orioles.

And for the last two years, they’ve employed Reynolds.

For the last seven weeks or so, Dan Duquette could have negotiated a new deal with him.  He could have offered him arbitration.  Or he could have picked up an $11.5 million option for 2013 just to see what one more season would yield from Reynolds.

Instead, Duquette and the Orioles simply said, “we’ll pass”.

That makes Reynolds a free agent this morning.

And, despite the fact I wouldn’t have him on MY team, the Orioles are now in the market for a “real” first baseman after deciding to let their guy leave and test the market.

Here’s why it’s all wrong:  The Orioles have let Mark Reynolds go because of a few million dollars.  They could have given him $11.5 million and he’d be on their team, albeit perhaps at $4 million more than the team thinks he’s worth.  They could have signed him to a 2-year deal for roughly $20 million, but they probably only thought he was worth $16 million for two years.

Dan Duquette keeps talking about the Orioles “valuing” Reynolds, but they won’t sign him because they can’t fit him in their budget.

Or they simply don’t want him back and they’re lying about it.

Either way, Dan Duquette has publicly declared that Reynolds doesn’t “fit in our budget” for 2013.  What budget in baseball is so restricted in December that a GM can’t weasel a few more million bucks out of the owner to keep a player who has been a fixture in the team’s lineup for the last two years?

It’s one thing if Duquette says, “We wish Mark all the best but we’re going to go in a different direction at first base.”

Instead, he has constantly said, “We like the player, but not at that price.”

And yesterday, on the eve of letting Reynolds walk, Duquette again referenced the team’s budget and talked about “financial challenges”.

Something’s not adding up here.

(Please see next page)

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Report: Report on Josh Hamilton coming to Baltimore is silly…

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Report: Report on Josh Hamilton coming to Baltimore is silly…

Posted on 08 November 2012 by Drew Forrester

The Orioles are not interested in Josh Hamilton.

“But Drew, wait, I saw a bunch of stories on the internet that say they are…”

No, you didn’t.

What you saw was ONE story, from ONE person, that a bunch of people then picked up instead of thinking about it on their own for three seconds.

The Orioles, contrary to any report, aren’t going to try and sign Josh Hamilton.

How do I know this?

Because I’ve been following the team for the last 15 years.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see them sign Hamilton.  They are always in need of better players and, with all due respect to Nate McLouth and Nolan Reimold (you remember him, he’s the guy who never plays because he’s hurt), Hamilton would be a mega-upgrade in left over those two.

I’m not writing this to campaign for or against Hamilton, although, admittedly, I’d take him on this team in a heartbeat.

I’m writing this to urge you to not get your hopes up.  They’re not signing Josh Hamilton.  He will cost someone roughly $120 to $150 million.  And remember, that’s guaranteed money.  You can’t be fired.  You get your money no matter if you hit .321 or .221.  Peter Angelos is not going to authorize an expenditure of that kind of money while he is still greatly unsure of how the MASN TV ruling is going to conclude.  Accordingly, with most experts following the story saying Angelos is going to lose the fight with the Nationals, the Orioles are unfortunately going to be the child-caught-in-the-middle-of-the-family-fight.  Angelos won’t make any kind of deal that means he has to guarantee a substantial sum of money (which, $150 million is) without knowing the conclusion or direction of the battle between the Nationals and MASN.

And if the Nationals win the fight and get their rights fee upped from $35 million to somewhere closer to $80 or $100 million a year, Angelos and MASN will, initially, have to fork over that money all by themselves.  That means there’s less money to go around elsewhere.  Of course, if the Nationals do get a substantial rights fee, you and I and anyone else with cable TV will ultimately bear the brunt of the increase because our cable bill will be kicked up by 50 cents a month to offset the new payment to Washington’s baseball team.  But in the meantime, with the whole MASN/Nats/Orioles fiasco so fuster-clucked, there’s just no way Peter Angelos can divert himself from that potential courtroom brawl to authorize $150 million for Josh Hamilton.

(Please see next page)

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