Orioles: The payroll question
Scratching my head a little over the number of comments about the Orioles and their incredible shrinking payroll. There are a lot of fans who believe that's a sign that Peter Angelos is just hoarding money and doesn't care about fielding a winning team, but I don't subscribe to that theory.
Frankly, I think the size of the payroll right now is irrelevant. If I had to choose between the Orioles winning 69 games next year with a $60 million payroll or winning 72 games with a $100 million payroll, I'd go with the lower one based on the hope that Andy MacPhail is conserving the budget for when it actually might make a difference. If that time comes and the O's still won't open their checkbook, then all the naysayers will be able to say they knew it all along -- and I'll tip my cap to them -- but a lot Andy's critics are way out over their skis right now.
I really get the feeling that some fans want the club to buy a bunch of free agents this year just to show them that the front office really cares. If you recall, Angelos did that a few years ago when the Orioles signed Miguel Tejada, Javy Lopez and a couple of other expensive players. Remember how well it worked out.
Before somebody chimes in that I've somehow fallen into the club's pocket, remember that the reason Mr. A does not return my calls is because I challenged him to open his books on a couple of occasions over the past few years when he has claimed financial hardship. I bring that up so that I don't have to listen to another wave of criticism from cynical readers who think I haven't been digging hard enough to get exact revenue figures to support their widely held belief that Angelos is rolling around in a giant vault full of $100 bills like Scrooge McDuck.
That said, everybody's entitled to an opinion, so I'd like to hear from the Andy bashers. Just who would you choose to start a new five-year plan when you run MacPhail out of town after just 18 months, and what would you do to turn the Orioles into an instant contender if you're not willing to wait through a player development cycle? I'm all ears.
Don't know that anyone in the warehouse is going to be listening, but I'm reminded of something Tommy Lasorda told me years ago when I mentioned that the fans in the stands probably disagreed with one of his managerial decisions. I'm guessing MacPhail would concur.
"If I listen to the people in the stands,'' Lasorda said, "it won't be long before I'm sitting up there with them."
Schmuck on the air: If you'd like to argue with me live, tune in from noon to 3 today for The Peter Schmuck Show on WBAL (1090AM). We'll be talking Orioles and previewing tomorrow's make-or-break game between the Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars. If your out of radio range, go to WBAL.com and click on the "Listen Live" icon.