Predictably, Orioles shortchange Wieters

March 12, 2012 | Drew Forrester

I’ll make this very clear from the outset so the Apologists won’t have a conniption:  The Orioles didn’t have to give Matt Wieters ANY kind of salary increase.  They could have just said, “Matt, have a good 2012”.  Or, they could have given him $55,000 like they did to Nick Markakis after his productive 2007 campaign.

The Orioles didn’t have to give Wieters a pay raise in the same way you don’t actually have to shower your wife or girlfriend with roses and chocolates and a movie gift card on her birthday.  You COULD just give her a card and be done with it.

On Saturday, our Birds forked over a $75,000 raise for Wieters.

That’s the equivalent of a birthday card for the team’s catcher.  No chocolates or roses.  Just a card.

Wieters and his agent, Scott Boras, apparently turned down “more money”, although I’m not sure I, A) understand how you turn down free money and B) believe anything the Orioles leak to the media.

This, of course, is precisely how the Orioles do business these days.  Whatever the shortest route is, they take it.  If just giving Wieters a $12,000 a month raise is good enough, then so be it.

After one year in the big leagues, the Tampa Bay Rays bumped Evan Longoria from $550,000 to $950,000.  After two years with the Orioles, Matt Wieters got a $75,000 raise.

The Apologists will argue that giving Wieters more of an increase could affect the team’s ability to negotiate fairly with him next off-season when he reaches arbitration.  Typical…we haven’t even started THIS season yet — folks are already planning on how to keep someone’s salary in check for NEXT season.  And you can bet that’s exactly what the Orioles are thinking.  It’s the same thing they thought about three years ago when they cut Jeremy Guthrie’s salary by $120,000 three weeks prior to the start of the season.

“How can we save money?”

That’s always the first question the Orioles ask when given any situation involving players on their roster.

Except for Justin Duchscherer, of course.

He’s the guy who picked up a $700,000 check last spring just for showing up with two legs and two arms at spring training.

As Dave Matthews said, “Funny the way it is…”  The Orioles will give perhaps their best overall player a $75,000 pay raise but this time last spring they wrote some dude a free check for ten times that much.

You can close your eyes and see how this all played out.  Scott Boras called the Birds and said, “What are we going to do for my man Wieters?  How about bumping him up to something reasonable…like maybe $1.2 million.”

After the Orioles gagged on their Wheaties, they responded with “We were thinking more like bumping him up $50,000.”

And that’s how it always goes with the Orioles.

When it comes to money, they have one philosophy:  Keep it.

I’m not saying Wieters would take an additional two years on his current deal, and I’m not allowed to ask the Orioles any REAL questions, so I don’t know if this happened – but why wouldn’t the Birds try and get Wieters to do what Markakis did…give up his three arbitration years and add a couple on the back end of his deal and give him a $75,000,000 deal that keeps him in Baltimore.

There’s a very good chance that Wieters has sniffed out the organization for what it is and won’t sign here no matter what the money.

But I don’t know that.

Maybe he likes the Harbor.  Maybe he and his wife like taking walks around Federal Hill.  Maybe he’d take $70 million if it was offered right now.  Maybe not.  But he might…

The Apologists will also point out – in defense of their favorite last place team – that nearly every club around the league operates in a similar fashion when it comes to doling out pay increases to non-arbitration-eligible players.

“The Marlins don’t give any of their players an increase.”

“The White Sox always give their non-arbitration-eligible players an increase of $50,000 and that’s it.”

Wieters said all the right things when asked about the paltry raise.  He said the right things because that’s the way he is…he’s a good man and a solid professional and the kind of player the Orioles should be trying to connect with, not alienate over something as “small” as a half-million dollars or so.

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