baltimoresun.com

« Imprisoned ex-Oriole writes open apology letter, mourns Flanagan | Main | If you were a GM, would you give a five-year deal to a free-agent pitcher? »

October 10, 2011

Some thoughts on C.J. Wilson, Prince Fielder and reality

fielderwilson400.gif

The official free agency period does not begin until five days after the completion of the World Series.

But for the 26 remaining teams with no dog left in this fight – is that now a frowned-upon phrase? – the only thing left to do in 2011 is look toward 2012.

For baseball fans, there’s a particularly interesting thing going on in the playoffs: The two most coveted pending free agents are still on display for all to evaluate. Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and Texas Rangers lefty starter C.J. Wilson. (OK, so St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols and New York Yankees lefty CC Sabathia could be free agents, too. But I see them remaining with their current clubs).

Let’s step into the dream world for a moment: Make no mistake, signing Fielder and Wilson would go a long way into solving the Orioles’ woes. More than anything, the Orioles need an ace and a legitimate cleanup hitter who, preferably, plays corner infield. Wilson, 30, would be the veteran, top-of-the rotation starter the Orioles desire. His name may not be synonymous with ace, but his numbers make a good argument: In his past two seasons he has thrown 200-plus innings, won 15 or more games and had an ERA of 3.35 or lower while playing half his games in a hitters' park in Arlington, Texas.

Fielder is a bone fide star, a legitimate MVP candidate who has made the All-Star team three times in six full seasons. He has hit 28 homers or more in each full season and driven in 100-plus runs four times. Most impressive, he has played 157 or more games in each of those six seasons. And, at 27, is entering his prime.

OK, dream over for Orioles fans.

I don’t see the Orioles getting either one, a rather no-duh statement. But I say this for reasons beyond the obvious ones of price tag and the Orioles’ terrible recent history, which chases away players who want to win now.

Although I say the above with one caveat: I wrote in the 2003 offseason there was no way the Orioles would land shortstop Miguel Tejada, who was one year removed from a MVP season. What happened then is that the market for shortstops collapsed on Tejada and the Orioles made the best offer – six years, $72 million – and landed him. It’s possible the market could collapse around Wilson and Fielder – though I doubt it – but even then the Orioles are long shots.

Wilson is a pretty good fit. Orioles manager Buck Showalter was Wilson’s first big league manager, and Wilson also has a relationship with pitching coach Rick Adair. To this day, Wilson talks glowingly about the men, saying Showalter is the first person on the big league level to really believe in him. But the starting pitching market is thin and Wilson almost assuredly will receive a five-year deal – heck, maybe even longer. And that goes well beyond the Orioles’ comfort level. They don’t like offering pitchers contracts beyond three years. So four would be a stretch. Five would be a shock.

And before you rip management and ownership on this one, know history proves the philosophy to be sound. Rarely does a free-agent pitcher keep his value beyond three years. It happens, but the reverse is more common.

As for Fielder, the cost itself will be prohibitive. Carl Crawford got a seven-year, $142 million deal from the Red Sox last offseason, and Mark Teixeira got eight years and $180 million from the Yankees before the 2009 season. I’d expect Fielder to fall between those two. The Orioles have never agreed to higher than Tejada’s $72 million. So breaking the bank is not normal protocol during the Peter Angelos regime.

But I tell you what really would be out-of-character: Angelos approving a huge contract for a huge man. The Orioles are sticklers for signing players who are in shape – the last one who truly wasn’t, Sidney Ponson, was one of the worst deals in Orioles free-agent history. Fielder is listed as 5-foot-11, 275 pounds. People have been complaining about his bad body since he was in high school. And all he does is produce. But that won’t sway the argument among the Orioles’ brain trust that it’s too much money for someone in questionable shape.

I know many of you will disagree with me here, given recent history, but I could see a scenario where the Orioles bought a big-time free agent in the winter. It just seems like they are ripe for a splash – new GM, perhaps new philosophy, a frustrating step back in 2011 and a payroll that currently seems manageable. There just aren’t enough major free agents to go around in this particular market.

So I think the targets will be more affordable – Virginia native Michael Cuddyer for instance – and not one of the two biggest fish.

OK, I’m done. Go back to watching Fielder and Wilson audition for other clubs.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 5:03 PM | | Comments (43)
        

Comments

So, another off-season of getting mediocre talent that will not change our place in the division? Sounds about right. At some point they need to break the bank, hike their skirts up and outbid for a stud. Fielder played in every game this year, I have a tough time buying the bad body argument.

If we do have a chance to land 1 of the 2, I'd think it would be Fielder. More elite teams (Yanks, Red Sox) need pitching. CJ Wilson is a further longshot than Prince in my mind.

From Highest to Lowest Payrolls in 2011:
NY: Teixeira, A-Rod(future dh)
Phillies: Howard
Boston: A-Gonz, Ortiz
Texas: Mitch Moorland, Mike Napoli
LA Angels: Mark Trumbo, Kendry Morales, Bobby Abreu
*Chicago WSox: Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko
***Chicago Cubs:
NY Mets: Ike Davis
SF Giants: Aubrey Huff, Belt
Twins: Morneau, Mauer
Tigers: Cabrera, Vmart, Avila
**St Louis: Albert
Dodgers: Loney
Rockies: Helton
Braves: Freeman
Mariners: Smoak, Mike Carp
**Brewers:
**O's: Reynolds,
Reds: Votto
Astros: Brett Wallace
*Athletics:
Nationals: Morse, Adam LaRoche
*Toronto: Lind,
Marlins: Gaby Sanchez
Diamondbacks: Goldschmidt
**Indians: Hafner
*Padres:
*Pirates:
**Rays:
Royals: Butler, Hosmer

I don't think we are as far away from Prince as we may think.
By my estimation we would be up against: Cubs, St Louis(if not Albert), Brewers, Athletics, Toronto, Indians, Padres, Pirates, Rays.

So after we surprise the baseball world by landing Prince to light up the warehouse windows, here's my 2012 dream team:
(although most likely won't land both Cuddyer & Prince but it'd be masterful)

» STARTING LINEUP
1. Coco Crisp CF Switch (42 SB, .298 w/ RISP .997 F%) $6 Mil (or Grady Sizemore)
2. Markakis RF L $12 Mil
3. Hardy SS R $7.4 Mil
4. Fielder DH L $22.5 Mil
5. Cuddyer 2B R $10 Mil
6. Wieters C S $400k
7. Reynolds 1B R $4.5 Mil
8. Davis 3B L $400k
9. Reimold LF R $400k

» BENCH
IF - Andino $500k | IF - Gibbons $400k | OF - Angle $400k | C - Fox $400k

» STARTERS
1. Matt Cain R (1st in NL in QS (26), 5th in NL in WHIP: 1.08) $9.1 Mil/yr signed thru 2012.
2. Tsuyoshi Wada L $8.5 Mil
3. Jeremy Guthrie R $5.75 Mil
4. Zach Britton L $400k
5. Jake Arrieta R $400k

» PEN
Pedro Strop R $400k
Micah Owings R (shutdown the Brewers 2 straight nights) $3.5 Mil
Troy Patton L .186 avg vs RH $400k
Alfredo Simon R $400k
Clay Rapada LHS $400k .104 BA vs LH
Jim Johnson $ 975k
Francisco Rodriguez (Closer) R (.180 avg vs. Right | .218 vs Left) $7 Mil

25 Man Roster Grand Total: $102.45 Mil + BRob's 10 Mil = $112.45 Mil

Now this lineup has great speed at the top. Guys who can get on base & be knocked in. Power in the 4 hole. Meat in the middle. Speed + Power at the bottom. We make up for the sad AJ departure by adding an ACE, a PRINCE hitting cleanup, a true closer who won't cost Heath Bell $, & a leadoff man who won't let a ball drop w/ a great breakfast name.

Trade CF Adam Jones for SP Matt Cain.
If you can trade him for a young ace such as Josh Johnson, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Ervin Sanatana DO it!! We can add role players like Coco Crisp who is a viable leadoff hitter who gets on base & had an Afro most of the season. If we can't get a SP of that caliber forget about it, work out the extension. If so, Jones can ride homeward; off into the Western sun.

I think San Francisco would absolutely be a PERFECT fit for AJ. They have the arms & they are DESPERATE for hitting. I'd take any of their SP: Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, or Lincecum(although Tim wouldn't happen for AJ).

If I was going to dish out the big bucks I would rather shell them out to a big...strong... thick legged.... thick armed...young....good track record....fiery leader....good avg....good power..good .run producer...great non injury history.....BUT overweight and not in tip top shape enough for some than spend them on a long term 5 or 5+ years on a pitcher who plays a position that can be career changing every pitch because of a possible injury. No one goes around thinking that Prince Fielder is going to get hurt every second he plays because he is heavy and not in that great of shape. I say we are nuts to sign a crazy deal with CJ Wilson....unless he comes here for like 2-3 years. We need our own pitchers to get better and get in Brady Anderson shape and come back ready for ST.

While I like what Cuddyer could bring to the table in terms of batting skills and fielding versatility, I'd want to know where we'd play him. I'm not against going after him, but I am against it if he comes to town without a defined position to play. If he's playing RF, where does Markakis go? If he plays LF, where does Reimold fit into things? If he plays 3B, that leaves a platoon/split of 1B/DH between Reynolds & Davis. Do we want that? I'd like to investigate Cuddyer as a full-time 2B. He's more than adequate as a fielder there and to be able to keep all those other hitters in the lineup would be much more palatable to me.

Beyond Cuddyer, I agree with seeking out value on the FA market. I think David DeJesus might be a nice bargain player on a 1-year deal. He had a bad season in a pitcher's ballpark out in Oakland and might be very interested in playing in a hitter's ballpark with a chance to rebuild his value for a longer term deal. Nobody will give him anything beyond a 2-year deal so he might be a nice steal to push our other outfielders. He also gives us a viable option as a leadoff hitter when BRoberts doesn't come back in 2012.

On the pitchers market, I love Mark Buehrle if the White Sox let him move on -- but I can't imagine they would. He's a ground ball pitcher who hasn't pitched less than 200 innnings since his rookie campaign in 2000. I think Jon Garland would be a nice workhorse and could come cheap while he recovers from an injury-shortened 2011 -- another ground ball pitcher who normally eats 200 innings a season. If you want to roll the dice on high reward/low risk signings, I'd look into Scott Kazmir and Brandon Webb. They can't possibly demand deals more than 1-year long and if they're healthy, they're playing for a big contract elsewhere in 2013.

If you're going to sign a big name FA, you gotta offer too many years for too much money. Look at some of the deals that are out there. A-Rod, Torri Hunter (6 years, 108 mill?) you think the angels will get their moneys worth on the last two years of that? You think someone else wouldve offered 6 years? Yes. The Texiera deal will end up being too long, Crwford ditto. Bottom line, if you want a big name FA, you have to be willling to eat caca on the back end. Positive about Fielder is he's 27, so the back end of 8 year deal, he could still be somewhat productive. I cant wait to see what the Cards pay Pujols when he's 38. there are too many teams ready to cut a dumb long term deal for some of these guys. If you want to compete, you gotta dumb down too. Whats wrong wtih 7 years/147 million for Fielder? You'll get 5 really good years, then be tied up the last 2...but anyone who signs him will be too.

All legitimate points, however depressing.

But as for Fielder's size, it's baseball! Fat guys are alright! Sabathia is fat and wins a ton of games. David Ortiz is fat and hits 30 HRs annually (of course the 'roids didn't hurt). Boog Powell was a nice, big chunk of man. I mean, Babe Ruth was fat! And he's the best of all time!

Long live the fat athlete!

--

I don't disagree. I am just telling you that will be an issue in evaluating him here.

"There just aren't enough major free agents to go around in this particular market."

Dan, my friend, and I mean that...... "Sun" sportswriters, Schmuck in particular, make that same observation every off season. And every off season it is a self fulfilling prophecy That's because you know this organization very well inside and out. That observation may be more or less true this off season. What you really are saying is that there aren't enough major free agents in the Orioles' price range to go around. And I agree with you. The Orioles need two top of the line FA starters, an impact bat in his prime, a second baseman, a left fielder, and an upgrade offensively and defensively at first and third base. That is if the goal of the organization is to make the playoffs next year. Linking Prince Fielder with Sidney Ponson as a reason the Orioles would not spend the money on Fielder is off the wall, but another insight into what you know about these people and how they think. So the Orioles would rather sign washed up free agents who appear to be physically in shape than marquee players in their prime who may not look like Bo Jackson?

Dan, C'mon Man!

--
Im saying I think this year they'd be more willing to spend a lot of money on a player -- maybe -- but I cant see them doing it on a bad-bodied guy, no matter how talented. And there just aren't a lot of "wow" guys this year

Michael Cuddyer would not be worth it, he's not worth the draft pick, I believe he's a Type A, also we wouldn't really have a position for him and we would probably have to overpay him and he's not exactly in his prime. Unfortunately, i have a feeling it will probably happen.

Dan,

During this year, I have discussed the idea of Prince Fielder to Baltimore with 17 different Baseball Analysts. Each time I have asked a question the variation of, “The O’s offered Teixeira 7 years $145M two winters ago. Where do you see Fielder signing, and what type of contract do you ultimately see him receiving? What is the max contract you would advocate Baltimore offering?”

Here are the compiled responses:

Mark Healey, Baseball Digest: “Zero. What difference would Mark Teixeira have made on this year’s club? The same Fielder would make on this club in the next two years. Zero, which is why the contract offer shouldn’t be made.”

Peter Schiller, Baseball Reflections: “Fielder would be a good option for the O’s, but I wouldn’t offer him more than what Gold Glove players like Teixiera & Adrian Gonzales are making. 7 years seems like what it will take, but then again maybe they could go with less money per year & add an 8th year (taking a chance on his age 36 season). That could win them this big fish!”

Brandon Warne, FanGraphs: “I’ll cut to the chase: It wouldn’t be an offer that Fielder would consider. Probably something like five years, and maybe $20-22 million a season. I’m not a fan of longer deals than that, especially with a guy who may not age well.”

Brittany Ghiroli, MLB.com: “I think when all is said and done Fielder’s deal will be similar to what Teixeira’s was, maybe a little closer to the $150M range. Whether the Orioles are willing to make that kind of long-term financial commitment, and outbid everyone else, is another story.”

Jason Parks, Baseball Prospectus: “I have no idea where Fielder is going to end up, but the team that lands him is going to pay a Teixeira-like price for his services. He’s not the defensive player Tex is, but the thunder in his bat can stand with anyone in the league. Baltimore should be in the running.”

Matt Klaassen, FanGraphs / Beyond the Boxscore: “To start at the end: I see Chicago being more likely than Baltimore. I guess it depends on what happens with Pujols. I like Prince a lot, but while he probably will end up getting 6/140 or more somewhere, it shouldn’t be Baltimore. As you know, rebuilding, even when done right, doesn’t always turn out right, and by the time this next phase might be “ready” Fielder will probably be on the decline (especially given his ‘conditioning’), and quite possibly an albatross. In fact, any team that gives him 6 years is probably looking at being stuck with a big, ugly contract the last 2-3 seasons of it. The Orioles aren’t in a position to take on that likely burden.”

Bob Nightengale, USA Today: “I would offer Fielder six years and $145 million in a heartbeat, and then drop dead if he signs it. Look, if he’s willing to sign a contact that low, he’ll stay in Milwaukee. Fielder will get at least $190 million over eight years, if not $200 million. He will definitely get more than the $180 million Teixeira received from New York. That being said, I would still bid on Fielder. He’s a tremendous asset on the field and in the clubhouse. I would think the biggest bidders on Fielder will be the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. But if he signed for less than $180 million, let alone $150 million, I’ll buy you and your staff steak dinners.”

David Pinto, Baseball Musings / Baseball Analytics: “Fielder should get between $25 and $30 million a year. And yes, the O’s should sign him if they ever want to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox.”

Satchel Price, Beyond the Boxscore: “Six years and $145 million is probably the high end of what I’d offer Fielder. He’s clearly an elite talent right now, but you have to be worried about how he’s going to age. I’d definitely rather give him a larger salary over a shorter term; there’s no way I’d give him seven or eight years like Mark Teixeira got. If he’d accept something like 5 years, $125 million, I think that’d be a no-brainer for Baltimore, but they really shouldn’t go beyond six years. Honestly, part of me expects Fielder to end up in Chicago; the Cubs are going to want to make a splash this winter given how horrible their season has gone, and outside of Pujols, Reyes and maybe Sabathia, nobody from this winter’s free agent class qualifies as a splash more than Fielder.”

Bob Harkins, NBC Sports / Hardball Talk: “I understand the temptation, but I don’t think the Orioles should be in the market for any high-priced free agents. They have too many holes, and one big bat, or one big arm is not going to turn them into a winner. They need to spread their resources around to increase their talent levels across the board, both in the majors and the minors. Handing a big contract to Prince Fielder isn’t going to fix things.”

Jonathan Mitchell, MLB Dirt: “I would love to see Baltimore offer Fielder big money. That is the type of signing I think a team like Baltimore should be eyeing. They build from within with young, cheap talent, and then pounce on the big thunder with the money they do have to spend. They have over $25 committed to Derek Lee, Vlad, Kevin Gregg, and Mike Gonzalez and they could have Fielder for a little over $24M. It would constitute a large chunk of the budget but they did had a 93.5M budget in 2007 and if they believe in contending in 2012 then I see no reason why they would not bump up the budget. I do see the Cubs being players as well as Brewers and possibly the Giants as a sleeper team.”

Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune: “I’d absolutely give Fielder crazy money, and not worry about (his) weight. That was a concern coming out of high school, as you might remember, and so far it hasn’t kept him from being one of the three or four best first basemen/sluggers in the game. The Angels will be aggressively pursuing hitting this off-season, and (hide your eyes) I don’t rule out the Yankees should they lose in the first round or to Boston in the ALCS. The Cubs are a wild card but I haven’t seen any indications that owner Tom Ricketts has this healthy of an appetite. They might talk themselves into keeping Carlos Pena and using their resources to pursue pitching.”

JD Sussman, Bullpen Banter / Beyond the Boxscore: “Prince Fielder is a much better athlete then given credit for. I’m not sure how he ends up aging but I’d suspect it’ll be better than what some people will predict. I’d suspect the O’s will be in the race for him, but the Cardinals will not be.”

Scott Miller, CBS Sports: “Because of those weight concerns, Fielder is a better buy in the AL than in the NL because you’ve got either 1B or the DH to slot him into. The way this guy has hit over his career, and given what Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira have gotten, I think 6 yrs and $145 million would be solid for Baltimore. Personally, I’d invest that money in Fielder before Pujols because he’s four years younger than Pujols and I think he’s got more of his prime in front of him. Plus, he’s a far better clubhouse presence than Pujols.”

Dan Szymborski, ESPN / Baseball Think Factory: “I expect Fielder to sign something in the neighborhood of 6 years, $140 million. 6 at $120 seems to me unlikely to land Fielder and I don’t think the Orioles are at a place yet where they should. When you sign a big-name free agent, you essentially take the quality of the front years as the counterweight to the risk of the back years and I do not think the O’s are in a place yet where that front-year quality will do more than make them an 83-84 win team. There are just too many holes on the roster.”

Danny Knobler, CBS Sports: “It’s very hard to know exactly what it will take on any free-agent signing. All the estimates on Werth/Crawford last winter ended up being too low. The Teixeira offer isn’t really relevant, because the Orioles were in a much different position then (and so was he). They didn’t have a team that was close to being ready to win. Plenty of other teams could be interested in Prince, including the ones you mentioned, and also the Nationals and Angels. Could be others, too.”

Jayson Stark, ESPN: “Prince will take the most money. Period. And right now what I’m hearing is, Boras wants eight years at $25 million a year, for a $200-million package. I can’t see him getting eight. But I can see somebody giving him the Teixeira deal. I’d never do that if I were an NL team. But as an AL team, with the option to move him to DH, I’d think long and hard about it if I were the Orioles. He’s as good a fit in that park, with that team, as anywhere.”

Beyond my interviews, ESPN’s Jim Bowden wrote that Baltimore could make the most sense. SI’s Jon Heyman wrote (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/201…?sct=mlb_wr_a1) that the average predicted contract for Fielder between himself, two Agents, and two GM’s was 6yrs $145M. Heyman has also written that Baltimore could make the most sense for the slugging 1st baseman.

My personal opinion is that prior to determining if the O’s should consider pursuing Fielder, the Front Office situation has to be addressed. With whomever is in charge, I want to see an organization that is committed to improving both on the field at the Major League level, and improving the internal infrastructure (Amateur Scouting, International Scouting, and Player Development).

I think under President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail, the O’s started laying the foundation of a rebuilding effort, but stopped building the house halfway through the job. If you look at the Non-waiver Trading Deadline this year, the O’s made the decisions to retain and extend Hardy, and received back the package of Davis and Hunter from Texas for Uehara (as opposed to the younger prospects the Padres received for Mike Adams from the Rangers). I took those moves as signs that Baltimore had made an internal decision they are going to try and win with the core of players that currently exists on the roster. If that is accurate, and you are not going to continue the rebuild, than you need to obtain the best difference making talent you can.

Fielder represents difference making talent at a position of need. You can certainly make the case for him. You can certainly make the case that obtaining him would not be the best use of resources. What the O’s should know if they go after Fielder, is that even if he were to be obtained, he alone would not be enough. If you are going to go after him, make sure you do everything you can to get him. If you obtain him, make sure you are committed as an organization for making the other moves necessary to make his signing worthwhile.

Past that, as long as we are 'dreaming' Darvish (if he is posted) would be much more ideal in my eyes as opposed to Wilson.

--

Chris, great stuff as always. I didn't include Darvish, because he isn't a free agent yet. But if he is posted, he becomes a top-tier guy, too.

I guess that means Pete wouldn't sign Babe Ruth if he were available???

--

Probably not for what it would take these days -- but he does have that Baltimore connection.

I don't buy the weight argument for Fielder. A) he plays 1B and B) in the AL, he could DH half the time. Big men are limited in the field, but not with the stick in their hands. And he's far better offensively than any 1B option we have had in years (and possibly defensively better than any of the options currently on the roster, though that's not saying much).

I really hope they at least make an offer. I'm not saying the would have landed Teixeira or someone like Werth, but they always go in like they're already beaten - "sure, we'll make them a half a**ed offer, since they won't come here anyway."

Just once, put forth a good faith offer and see what happens.

ANd Dan, your comment to Paul R is the reason Os fans have no hope (not arguing with you, just saying). I mean, look at some of these ideas on the blog. Mine saying overpay, Omazing with that roster and trade ideas, Cuddyer at 2b? T the beginning of this year, these ideas would have triggerd vitrol from some folks. Now, nobody cares enough to insult us dummys. Orioles suck and there is no hope.

Although Omazing's grand scheme is a bit far-fetched in my opinion, his point about a narrower-than-normal market for Fielder is correct. Most of the big market teams are set at 1B. 2 others (Mets and Dodgers) have some financial issues to sort out (and Ike Davis is a nice player). Still, the Orioles don't seem to offer a very attractive package to any player who wants to win, and so even if the funds were available it would be a long shot.

And I'm not sure that's a bad thing. To sign Fielder we'd need to offer him too many years, and I don't think a club in our financial and competitive situation should commit to anyone for that long a time. Reynolds seems like an okay option at 1B for next season. Is Mark totally against DHing?

--

So far he is. Never did it in his career and lobbied Buck not to put him there this season if possible.

the warehouse issue is non performance on guaranteed contracts. think huff, think roberts-i hit myself in the head with the bat, think surrogacy ndidsaino return on guaranteed money-think mysterious injuries. the game went to hell,with th eunion and guaranteed contracts, pay for performance!

We won't be better until we have new ownership. We can speculate on this player or that, but the truth is, we're not a good team because we've got a pretty bad owner and pretty poor scouts. Our middle/late round picks are awful. New boss, new scouts, then I'll get excited about the future. Meanwhile, I see us winning 70-72 games next year which, sadly, will be an improvement.

Omazing...cuddyer plays RF not 2B.

--

He plays various positions. Including 2B

Come on, Dan. The phrase "I don't have a dog in that fight" makes light of suffering. I would expect to hear if from brainless old red necks and people who grew up amidst abuse. Considering all of the amazing, beautiful things the English language can do, why be lazy and marginalize something so awful?


--

See, I knew it was frowned upon. Sorry.

Really could not care *less* if anyone big gets signed to this team. It would be a waste. Invest the money in a good international development - forget one of those huge-o contracts, invest that money overseas, and reap some rewards. Why this organization fails to do what other organizations do in that regard puzzles me.

But what doesn't puzzle me is why they are so sucko for 14 years. It's common sense. They reap the whirlwind. Nothing will change until their thinking changes. So good luck with that, O's fans. 14 years isn't enough evidence? lol

Cannot believe I got to watch Brooks and Palmer play as a kid and the last 20 years, give or take a few moments, has been such GARBAGE.

At this point, the years of suck now basically outnumber the years of glory. Way to go, people. Way to go.

Just once I'd love to see a piece actually holding high expectations for the Orioles instead of catering to the "pity party." It's yet another offseason and expectations are already being lowered. Why? Why should we settle for less every offseason and keep saying it's OK for the Orioles to keep passing on the best talent?

Fielder and Wilson are musts this offseason, and the Orioles should have a good shot at each if they actually make an effort and are aggressive, something we've seen far too little of in the past 4 years.

They've passed on so many opportunities, that they can't keep afford to always keep waiting for the next FA class. Those classes aren't getting any better as the years go on. There will always be excuses not to sign somebody but the longer they keep going with lower tier options, the longer it will take for them to win. Risks are going to have to be taken, and they are going to have to be big ones to get this club back to where it needs to be.

It's time to stop making excuses and time to acquire the talent that is needed to end the losing and get this team back into the playoffs. The Orioles owe the fans that much.

I love the stance in the Warehouse about not signing starting pitchers to contracts more than 3 years. Maybe that's one of the many philosophies that need to be overhauled. In order to be successful the Orioles are going to have to start taking some risks. And not the hurt pitcher for 600k risks. I just want them to try and put a winning team on the field. I haven't seen serious effort by management to compete in the AL East in 14 years now. Time will tell.

All the talk about Fielder being too big and having to become a DH is a load of crap. Fielder is a long way from becoming a DH. Reynolds, on the other hand, should be the DH in 2012, with his horrible, game-losing glove. There is not one Oriole player that anyone can claim is better than, or heck...... as good as P. Fielder. Unfortunately, the team needs 2 more hitters for the middle of the line up. One player can't do it.

2B)Andino, LF)Crisp,CF)Jones,1B)Fielder,
3B)A.Ramirez,SS)Hardy,DH)Reynolds,
C)Weiters,RF)Markakis,

The Orioles are sticklers for signing players who are in shape?

Does that include "pear shaped" players like Wigginton and Huff? Let's be honest about this. Weight is certainly NOT a determining factor for the Orioles. It all comes down to the willingness to spend money, and lack thereof.

Why is everyone so keen on picking up Fielder instead of C.J. Wilson. I know Fielder is probably more realistic for a number of reasons but if we are playing the build the team we want game, we should go after pitching over hitting. The Orioles hitting was about average this year but their pitching was the worst the worst in baseball. Buts the bats and grow the arms has failed, it is time to turn it on its head and buy some arms.

Info comes from here:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/2011.shtml

Dan,

The Orioles are at a historical crossroad this off season. While there's no debate that they'll be new leadership taking the reins of the organization, it remains to be seen if the mentality of the front office will change. The club has followed various strategies over the past dozen or so years without any field success. For the past four plus years under Andy MacPhail, the mantra was "grow the arms and buy the bats". Only problem is that they never bought a significant, difference making bat during his tenure. Closest would have been the "trade" for Reynolds.

For the team to change their results, they need to change their approach. In this regard, they should make a full court press for C. J. Wilson. They should do so with the total expectation that they're only to get three years worth of value out of a 5 - 6 year deal. They should also do so in the hope that, if he and other additions can get the Orioles back to being competitive, the offset to those 2 - 3 (final contract) years of not getting value from Wilson's contract will be a reduced premium to sign future free agents. The Wilson situation could represent the Orioles' best opportunity. As you wrote, he is familiar with and likes and respects Buck and Adair. Also, he's pitched in a hitter's park. Could the stars align any better?

I think the Orioles should go after Fielder too with an "over the top" offer. Boston will be all over this guy to replace David Ortiz and I suspect the Yankees will get involved just to keep Prince from signing with the Red Sox.
However, if he wants to play in the field, those two teams can't offer it.

While Michael Cuddyer would be additive to the team, his 20 HRs, 70 RBIs and .284 average is not a "big" bat and won't do much to change the Orioles' fortunes. Is he someone that other teams have to plan around? Also, let's remember that he'll be 33 before the start of 2012.

Dan, let me finish here with a question for you. If the Orioles don't dramatically
change their thinking about how they attempt to compete going forward -- including, but not limited to free agent spending -- and facing increased competition from a Toronto club [with a terrific farm system that is poised to turn out a number of major league prospects in the next couple of years], Tampa, [who had 10 or so first and sandwich picks in the 2011 draft alone and have an oversupply of top young pitching (like Hellickson, Moore and Wright) that the Orioles could only dream of, plus the big spending duo of NY and Boston, how do you realistically see the Orioles changing the results in the standings in the intermediate term...3-5 years? Just to keep things in perspective, we have to improve by a dozen games just to catch the Blue Jays
assuming they didn't get any better.

who is this chubby kid out of Baltimore?
And what kind of name is Babe, anyway.
Lets pass on this one - he is too fat and too slow to ever make it out of the minors.

We don't need bats, we need pitching. Stay away from Fielder. 1B is fine with Reynolds. 2B is a hole right now, but Andino can fill that. We need another utility fielder like Andino in case of injury. Outfield, let's go woth what we got. LF- Reimold, make or break season, play or go.. CF- Jones, RF Markakis. Infield- 1B Reynolds 2B Roberts/Andino SS Hardy
3B Davis/Andino/ ????. We need pitching, and a 2B or 3B. Now argue with that.........

Very simply - The Orioles are not a Prince Fielder away from contending for the American League. Fielder is probably worth every dollar he will earn this offseason but it does not make any sense for the O's to throw $200 + million at a guy who takes the team from a 5th place team to a 4th place team in the East. Our offense has proven it can compete (I'm all for adding a few supplemental pieces). It's not an explosive offense but neither was the Angels', Marlins', or Giants' offense when they won the World Series in the past decade. It's the Orioles pitching staff that is absolutely dismal and must be addressed. There's not one guy on the O's staff who strikes fear in the eyes of opposing hitters. If the Orioles want to spend $200 mil let's go buy 4 quality pitchers at $50 million a piece. The mantra of this offseason should be BUY THE ARMS. Can you imagine the effect a few quality veteran starters would have on all the young guns in the organization? (and no, Kevin Millwood, and Justin Duchscherer are not quality veteran starters!).

First and foremost: Get a TOP NOTCH General Manager. Then buy 5 quality pitchers. Goodbye cellar. Not contending, but on "our" way.

Won't take Cecil because of his physique? How many W's are those well toned players producing?

Angelos won't take Cecil because Angelos does not want a winner. He does not want a winner because he hates the City of Baltimore. He hates the city of Baltimore because he has never forgiven
the City for helping Art Modell bring the Browns to town rather than helping him bring the Rams. It's that simple.

Interesting article. Here are some guys that we won't get, and here are the false excuses. If these players were determined to sign with winners, then why not stay put? Money will decide where these players call home. Fielder would love a sweet offer from the O's. Brewers signed Braun and the Yanks and Boston are set at 1st and won't spend that kind of jack on a DH. Thank you James for pointing out the hole in the silly "Orioles sign fit guys" argument. Orioles sign cheap guys, end of discussion.

pray to the baseball gods that we land Fielder.

As long as the Orioles have lackluster players like Markakis, Reynolds, and Jones, they don't need any big name players. Average/forgettable players like Markakis and Jones can certainly carry this team to contention. Riiiiiiight.....

PS: The notion that Jones is a star player is ridiculous. He is average defensively, and his career OBP (the most important ofensive stat) is lower than .320, which is terrible. Until Jones stops hacking at everything (which will probably never happen), he will never be anything more than at best a slightly above average player. Reynolds is terrible defensively and can't hit for a respectable average. Markakis signed his big contract and stopped working out and stopped trying (the only other explanation I can think of is that Markakis has some kind of serious disease that has caused his incredible muscle loss and huge drop in performance). Markakis is now an average player, nothing more.

Do we have a GM yet? It might take Angelos a while to find another one that won't mind not being in charge of baseball operations. Yeah, I said it. McPhail had no authority, but it'll take him signing on with another team before he'll admit it. I can see us prolonging the GM search all the way until all the decent free agents are scooped up.

Omazing -- Trade Jonesy and replace him in center with Coco Crisp? You've got to be kidding.

Yes, the Orioles could get a decent arm (and more) back, no question, but there are more negatives here than positives.

First, Adam is an improving hitter, who could reach 30 homers next year; a plus defender with a strong arm, playing one of the all-important, up-the-middle position; and an emerging leader in the dugout. Also he's bonded well with Buck, who praised him many times during the season for hustling more than anyone on the team (with Showalter's influence on any moves to be made, I'd be genuinely surprised if Adam's anywhere but the O's for the foreseeable future, as I'm convinced Buck sees him as more important as part of the team than as trade bait).

Second, he's a player who's still a year or so from his prime years, so it makes no sense to get rid of him at this point (even if one wanted to), because his value may get considerably. Of course, if the Orioles are a contending team in a few years, they might not want to trade him anyway.

Third, aside from his ability to steal bases, I see little that Coco can do as well as Jonesy. They're even when it comes to hitting for average, but over their careers Adam's hit as many homers as Crisp (75) in four fewer seasons, and in his best two seasons has had as many outfield assists in his best two years as your would-be replacement has had over his full career (32). Plus, Coco's 31, four years older than Adam; so he's got one more prime year left, while Jonesy won't even be in his prime seasons until from 2013-2017.

Do we really want to lose that All-Star potential? I can't see it. Look, the Orioles can trade someone less valuable to the team and get pitching in return, try to sign a free agent starter or get involved in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes (and here, Dan, is where a multi-year contract makes senses) .

Just leave Jonesy to contentedly chew his bubble gum while patrolling center at OPACY and be a vital building block in the O's future success.

Dear The Win Rule,
But isn't it the case that Jones will almost certainly be leaving after next season, hoping to go West? It's not like he's been close-mouthed about his plans.

Isnt Prince a vegan?

If the O's don't sign 2 studs, they may as well not sign anyone. Not offense to Cuddyer, but he won't make a bit of difference on this team. The O's are so far off from competit, that if we are not going to pony up the cash to fill in the blank spots on the roster left by so many young players underperforming, we may as well start the rebuild in earnest and play the young guys, and even look to trade guys like AJ and JJ who have a lot of value, but won't make a difference on a 60 - 70 win team we are destined to be for the next 2 -3 years, thanks to the wonderful job Andy did while he was here.

Ok I am sure there some edict over at tha Sun, since the Orioles spend lots of money advertising and the paper is bankrupt, to not be negative. I want ONE person over there to stand up and say enough is enough we have had 14 years of losing we can't take it anymore. But everyone at the Sun is gutless when it comes to calling out this moribound franchise. It's obvious the orioles care more about making money than winning, even the owner of orioles hangout admits to that. If this town had a real paper they would be killing the Orioles on a daily basis. Look at Philly or Boston or even The Nats ownership was killed until recently by Tom Boswell.

"...Jones will almost certainly be leaving after next season, hoping to go West? It's not like he's been close-mouthed about his plans."
..................................
Dear Paige,

So, Jones has been open about wanting to leave. Really? Care to cite some examples and their sources?

Obviously, this would change everything and a trade would be in order, though it's the first I've heard anything like this.

If he wants out, then the only question concerning a trade is whether to do so now or take the gamble of waiting till after the All-Star break in hopes that his game's reached a new level by then and his value will be even more than it is now.

Thinking the O's would pass on Prince makes me sigh. No, it makes me openly cry, because we are a Prince Fielder away from contention. Adding Prince would mean that the organization is serious about winning, and the team would bring in qualified Starting Pitchers and bolster the 'Pen.

If Buck truly has the say with this team, then he and the Orioles will land Prince Fielder, and they will over-pay. But we need him here in Birdland. They need to keep us remaining few fans passionate about this team.

Please god send us a winner...

Did someone REALLY just say Jones is average defensively?

Todd, get real...and fast. Jones could still use a little improvement on his route to some balls, but they guy is one of the best OF in baseball defensively. He makes long runs and catches look routine and he had a number of highlight reel grabs last season.

Throw in that his offense has improved every year, and he is the real deal. Not sure what you're watching.

Go after Fielder. He has missed a total of 13 games in 6 seasons. Bad athletes get hurt. He hasn't gotten hurt. He's also 27, 5 years younger than Pujols or CJ Wilson. Wilson put up some good numbers, but also walked 74 batters last year. Whoever signs CJ Wilson will be getting the next Barry Zito.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

-- ADVERTISEMENT --

About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


Baltimore Sun coverage
Most Recent Comments
Photo galleries

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

Search our new database for every home run hit hit by the O's and the opposition — home and away — since 1992.

Minor league resources
Web links to official sites, stats, schedules and more for O's affiliates and other area teams

International League (AAA)
News | Scoreboard | Standings | Statistics

Eastern League (AA)
News | Scoreboard | Standings | Statistics

Carolina League (A)
News | Scoreboard | Standings | Statistics

South Atlantic League (A)
News | Scoreboard | Standings | Statistics

New York-Penn League (A)
News | Scoreboard | Standings | Statistics

Appalachian League (R)
News | Scoreboard | Standings | Statistics
Sign up for FREE Orioles alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for Orioles text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Blog updates
Recent updates to baltimoresun.com sports blogs  Subscribe to this feed
Stay connected