More of the same for the Orioles
The 2007 season was yet another losing one -- make it 10 straight and counting now -- for the once-proud Orioles, but maybe, just maybe, there is reason for optimism. By all indications, new club president Andy MacPhail has been given full autonomy to fix things, and that may mean bottoming out and starting from scratch, something the Orioles should have done a few years ago. The roster is full of expensive, limited veterans and MacPhail would like to move a number of them to begin the housecleaning the O's need.
GM: Andy MacPhail
Manager: Dave Trembley
'07 record: 69-93, 4th AL East
'07 payroll: $95.1M, 10th MLB
Runs scored: 756, 9th AL
Runs allowed: 868, 13th AL
OPS: .746, T-9th AL
ERA: 5.17, 13th AL
Fielding percentage: .987, 1st AL
2. There's a desperate need to find a closer to replace the injured Chris Ray, and of course, the rotation, though full of promise, could use some depth.3. More than anything, the lineup could use an honest-to-goodness, prime-of-his-career run producer since most of the Orioles' bats are aging and diminished.
Free agentsC Paul Bako, RHP Kris Benson (option), CF Corey Patterson, RHP Jaret Wright. Of the pending free agents, Patterson is likely the only one the O's will seek to retain. It helps that he played for MacPhail before with the Cubs. If he leaves, there are other big-ticket options (Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones, Mike Cameron), but for a change, the Orioles are sending signals that they don't intend to be bidding for the top-tier free agents. What's more, they don't seem willing to go after some of the overpriced midmarket players that have stung them in recent years (Aubrey Huff, etc.). Expect them, then, to concentrate on bargains, while attempting to deal off some of their dead contractual weight.
Trade baitMake the Orioles an offer. Indications are they'll move just about anybody, and that includes Erik Bedard, though he, obviously, would cost a fortune. The O's would love to move both Miguel Tejada (no longer viable at shortstop) and Melvin Mora, and wouldn't refuse a reasonable offer for catcher Ramon Hernandez. The Orioles may have to take a step backward before moving forward.
Farm aidRight-hander Radhames Liz is raw, but has plus stuff. Lefty Garrett Olson, meanwhile, is slightly more polished and could contribute at the back end of the rotation. Third base prospect Scott Moore, now with his third organization, is intriguing. If he can show he can play, it would make it easier for the O's to move either Mora or Tejada -- or both.
OutlookFor the immediate future: bleak. MacPhail, who must still hire a personnel assistant, has lots of work to do to put this franchise back on track. The fan base is understandably alienated after a decade of incompetent management and a slipping product on the field. The easy thing to do would be to spend some of owner Peter Angelos' money, but that approach has already been found wanting. Look for smaller moves, an overhaul of the minor league system -- and the first steps on the long road back to contention. Sean McAdam of The Providence (R.I.) Journal covers baseball for ESPN.com.
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