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January 14, 2009

MacPhail and the market

O's president of baseball ops Andy MacPhail was asked after today's news conference whether the team will continue to pursue pitching help in the free-agent market. His answer doesn't really clarify the situation much, but it does include his rationale for not going after several free agents to fill the openings in the starting rotation.

“We’re going to have to monitor the market and see what evolves now within a month of the reporting date for pitchers and catchers,'' he said. "We’re going to have to balance any veteran innings eaters with trying to find out about those young pitchers we had last year, whether it’d be Olson or Liz or Waters or whatever. So I don’t know that we are going to want to get so veteran-loaded that we preclude ourselves the opportunity to give some innings to those young guys who have been viewed as prospects here in the past.

“But at the same time, if things that make sense to you open up -- opportunities that might evolve in the market to reach its final stage -- we are obviously going to have to be very cognizant of that and balance the two.”

In other words, if a real solid option is still dangling out there when everybody is down to one-year, incentive-laden deals, the Orioles might try to swoop in and add another starter during the final weeks before the opening of training camp.

Catching up: MacPhail all but confirmed the O's are about to finalize a deal with free agent catcher Gregg Zaun, perhaps fulfilling a prophecy from Monday that something would happen very soon after the Koji Uehara news conference.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 6:04 PM | | Comments (35)
Categories: Just baseball
        

Comments

peter according to your article Macphail's news conference sounded like a politician talking. making a lot of noise and saying nothing.

What about the 1st base sitution no qeustion to AM about that?

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Pete's reply: I'll have more on that first thing in the morning.

Pete,

Any idea of whom that one year incentive laden guy might be. Here's hoping it's Sheets. (Unlikely)

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Pete's reply: No, I think they're hoping the market comes to them.

Thanks Peter, I was getting starved for some hot stove with all the Ravens fever going on, (no that I don't have a touch of that too)

Pete-

In my opinion, even if the Orioles were to acquire a veteran innings-eating starter, I cannot realistically see how they can better their record from this past season. There just seem to be too many questions that will not be resolved before the season is upon us. It sounds like it's pretty much set in stone that Sherril will set up Ray, but who is going to get us to those guys? I dont think Guthrie can start 85 games...Hendrickson is a huge long-shot, and Uehara is an unproven commodity regardless of what kind of numbers he posted with the Yomiuri Giants. God, did I actually think to myself that releasing Cabrerra may prove to be a mistake ??

The Ravens go from 5 wins to 11, and increase of 120%. If the Orioles take inspiration from their city brothers, and gain even HALF of that, 60%, they win about 31 more games, or about 91. That might not get them in the playoffs, but how much fun would the off season be heading into 2010 when we're supposed to get really good?? Has MacPhail thought about signing Ed Reed to a contract; he could be a utility outfielder and designated pinch runner!

You're going to have to walk hard to be fan this year.

MBL, you don't want none of this

Wrong team died

The day that baseball died, singing bye bye ..........

Go Ravens !!!!!!!!!!!!, $%#@ the Steelers

In other words, 70-92

It is absolutely amazing to see a team all but admit they are not even going to try to win because somehow that might get in the way of developing players ... uh, develop, I guess.

I suppose that's better than the continued lies and fake offers.

Then again, 105 losses are going to be 105 losses regardless of sugarcoating.

Gregg Zaun. Sheesh. Isn't there a third generation Kennedy (after Bob and Terry) who can catch?

" ...when danger reared it's ugly head, Sir Robin bravely turned and fled..."

For all those writers complaining about Zaun: On Hot Stove tonight Reynolds, Larkin and ? critiqued Zaun. Larkn brought up the fact that Zaun was in the upper bracket of catchers in On Base Percentage over each of the past five years. Additionally, though he looks young, he has a lot of experience that he can pass on to Weiters. Also he's a pretty good handler of pitchers who will comunicate with them verbally rather than sit & pout behind the plate as was the case this past year. He'll be an asset to the team this coming season.

Peter- Have you seen the 25 man roster Peter? We are all set. To imply that we need some improvement, I personally take as insult. What more can they do? Gosh, O's fans have gotten so greedy over the past 11 seasons.
Oh, Gary Williams recruiter of the decade and Vasquez player of the year. MD Football, best defense in D1. Wizards are unstopable. Its a shame about the caps and ravens though.

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Pete's reply: Ryan, I'm starting to think you don't play well with others.

Pete,

I am currently in Tokyo and I've asked a lot of questions about the O's Japanese pitching additon. The answer I've heard repeatedly is: (1) He's well past his prime and will struggle; and (2) The O's paid too much for a "Has Been".

This smells of classic Angelos: Waiting to bottom feed with the perception that O's fans will believe management is truly trying to improve the team when it's really about economics/maximizing free cash flow rather than love of the beautiful sport we call baseball.

Ugh!


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Pete's reply: Obviously, that's one way to look at it. I tend to think that if they spent a bunch of money this winter to finish fourth, everyone would be criticizing them at the end for not having a plan.

Pete, Did AM read the tea leaves and see the future? bRob better sign or face an economic downturn of uncertain duration. Nick may be lucky to get the offer on the table now. What reality is this when rising unemployment, layoffs, and shattered retirements are ignored by baseball stars who demand extra MILLIONS! Then, fans berate the owner for fiscal responsibility in the face of depressed advertising and attendance dollars. Who is greedy? Perhaps, the warehouse had it right all along and we're just now watching reality biting back at baseball and its' fantasy economics.

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Pete's reply: I'd settle for the Orioles having it right once in awhile. No, baseball's fantasy economics are just fine.

Pete-

Any of your bloggers out who truly believe that acquiring Gregg Zaun will be beneficial are smoking Selig dust. How about run production from a catcher? Is that still a pertinent factor in a catcher's resume? If we were considering Zaun as a backup catcher this move would be entirely legitimized. What's wrong with giving Queroz more playing time? He did show occasional bat flair last season. I'd wager that given the same number of games to start, Queroz would produce more runs than Zaun. Throw out the "Dempsey relative" factor and you have nothing more than a retread trying to hang on in a watered-down market. Mr. MacPhail, pass up this deal and focus your limited budget on acquiring another desperately-needed starter...

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Pete's reply: I disagree. Quiroz has gotten a look and nobody was too impressed. Zaun isn't going to drive in 80 runs, but he'll do the job they want him to do, which is play until Wieters is ready.

I agree that leaving some spots open in the rotation is a good idea but not for lLz and Olson who aren't going to amount to anything. lLz is the next DCab.I want to see Berken,Burgesen or Hernandez in the rotation,sooner rather than later.Penn could be successful if he would just try to "stay within himself".

Greg Zaun I can handle (although Dempsey might be over the top on bragging about his nephew).

It's the potential of 90 losses I don't like.

I really don't know what everyone is so upset about. Our pitching, right now, looks stronger in the pen than entering last year. Our starting pitching is no worse, and maybe even a little better with Olson, Waters, Liz,Burris etc having some ML experience last yr. The OF is strong, ss should be much improved and even 1st should be better in the hands of Huff. Catching can't be much worse. Anyone remember what the Tigers were like the yr B4 they won? With Penn, Burris, oleson, Waters, Liz etc we should be able to get a couple of those pitchers to have ERA's under 5 and win as many games as they lose. With Montenez, Salazar, Freel, Gomez etc our bench HAS to be stronger than last yrs, could it even be worse? By this time next yr we should be talking about the real possibility of winning more games than we lose in a season. I would not be surprised if this team pushes .500 this yr. McPhail is a REAL BB man, and for once in King Peter's reign it looks as if a BB man is making most, if not all, the key decisions. It took Steinbrenner a long time to learn his lesson, let's hope the Angelos thick skulls have finally learned theirs.

Bottom feeding has got us this far, why change now? Besides all their energy for the next three weeks needs to be directed towards the big Zaun signing.

Peter,
A very sad day in O's history. Do the fans know how tough it is going to be to sit thru a 100 loss season.
What happened to "We are going to do what we hve to this offseason to become more competitive."
I have to admit also, you started out the off season pretty worked up. But have became more mellow and sympathetic to this "plan" as the the offseason has went on. Is the Sun or you personally ever told by the O's if you are too critical?
Thanks


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Pete's reply: I'm told by the team all the time that I'm too critical and I'm told by the fans that I'm not critical enough. I must be a moderate.

Noel, your math is a little off. The Orioles won 68 games last year so a 60% increase would be 41 more wins for a total of 109. That should get them in the playoffs, in fact I can pretty much guarantee it. I can also guarantee it won't happen. More realistic, but also decidedly optimistic would be for the Orioles to increase their number of wins from one year to the next by the same amount the Ravens did. That six win increase would take the Orioles from 68 to 74. Still not .500, but at least improvement. And far from assured.

Keep in mind that winning 68 last year was anywhere from 5-15 more than a lot of "experts" were predicting going into the season. Best case scenarios going into spring training last year had the Orioles pretty much sucking in 2008, being barely better in 2009, showing signs of life in 2010, and being competitive, whatever that means, in 2011. The fact that they got off to a much better than expected start before their standard late season collapse brought on by a pitching staff devastated by injuries and overwork does nothing to change the fact that there is no quick fix available, nor was one ever promised. If you are a true Orioles fan, then just be glad that at last there is a true, viable, long term plan in place to rebuild the organization back to what it was in the glory days when the parent club was winning or competing for championships and the farm system was producing quality replacement players and/or trade bait.

40% experience and 60% inexperience: is this a formula for success? The O’s have done more good than harm under the leadership of Andy McPhail. However, if he stops now with the starting rotation as is - 40% experience, would be a huge mistake for the next two years. With a 60% experienced starting rotation it gives the younger less experienced guys a chance to grow into their role without being subject to the pressures of major league play and fan expectations. Stick with your game plan Andy, bring in another experienced arm and give the team a chance to compete.

I'm not crazy about Zaun being the #1 catcher. I don't think he can throw or hit.
But if he at least has the energy to hold his glove up to give the pitcher a target, he'll be an improvement over Hernandez....

As for Zaun, He'll do the job he was hired to do.... as long as he leves his checkbook at home.

Peter,as a regular reader of your O's blog, I have observed the prevailing sentiments are: pessimism, anger, and resignation. Bloggers are a self-selecting group, so perhaps this tells us something. However, you could perform a public service by checking some other MLB blogs and reporting back if fans around the majors share these attitudes about their own teams.

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Pete's reply: I did that in a column recently, putting up the postgame comments of another NFL team, but inserting Ravens where the team's actual name was. They sounded exactly like the posts about the Ravens (it was after a loss by both teams), except they were coming from fans of .... drum roll please ... the defending Super Bowl champion NY Giants. Yes, it's a self-selecting sample. I haven't heard a word lately from all the people who said six weeks into the season that Flacco wasn't the answer and that nothing had changed under Harbaugh.

Pete, as a fan, I'd appreciate it if you weren't so "moderate" all the time.

Why don't you try to force an answer out of Andy Kissinger and ask him about:

What the heck is he going to do with Roberts?

Does he think he'll be able to re-sign Markakis after MacPhail pissed off him and his agent last year with a middling offer?

Why does his "rebuilding plan" consist of players in their early to late 30's?

Is he prepared for another decline in attendance this year?

This is what we want to know, but we're not getting it from you or your colleagues. 11 straight losing seasons? You guys ought to be writing like rabid dogs on a ham sandwich!


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Pete's reply: I was writing like a rabid dog after eight straight losing seasons, but MacPhail was brought in to implement a long-term program, so I don't see the value in tearing him to shreds after 18 months. It doesn't happen that fast and it doesn't happen if you fall for knee-jerk solutions like "Sign Manny!" for two years at $50 million. I won't be moderate if they reneg on their commitment to spend on the team when it is ready to compete. It's not, and trying to run Andy out of town 18 months into his program would just prolong the agony. Frankly, it has nothing to do with being moderate. It has to do with being logical. My job is not to get caught up in the fan emotion. I get hundreds of emails per day and each of them has a different solution for the Orioles. Which one should I champion? Given that choice, I'm going to hang with the guy who won two rings in Minnesota and got within a deflected foul ball of getting the Cubs to the World Series for the first time in nearly 60 years. McFail indeed. People need to realize that the failure was already here.

How long do you think it will take Wieters to be called up...I hope its soon cause I'm dying to see him play. Also I read last year in SI that Wieters could come up this year and be the best catcher in the MLB...how accurate is that statement?

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Pete's reply: We can only hope that it's right on the money, but we'll have to wait and see. I think he'll be here in May or June if he continues to tear up minor league pitching.

I gotta agree with Jack until the last sentence - "there is a true, viable, long term plan in place to rebuild the organization back to what it was in the glory days when the parent club was winning or competing for championships and the farm system was producing quality replacement players". The O's have said that the plan is to be "competitive" but they never defined "competeive" as winning the division or even making the play-offs. The current plan is to make the parent team (the O's) "competitive" which translates to "middle of the pack and hoping that NY and Boston have bad years". As for the farm system, it is in huge need of major overhaul before it will again produce quality players. Look at the spring training facilities issues and how many years the O's have dealt with that, with no permanent answer. Don't get me wrong, what Andy is doing is good and I support it, but don't misinterpret what the goal is. If the O's can hit the 500 mark in the next few years, then they will say "Mission accomplished."

congrats to the front office, we have needed a good backup catcher since lenny webster left and now we will have one in greg zaun..... oh, that's right, i forgot, he's the starting catcher

Charlie - you raise an excellent point. We should have a clear statement of what the organizational objective is, if it hasn't been stated before. For us fans, we want it to be that we can expect to be fighting for championships on a consistent basis. Yankee fans think it's their birthright; no reason why Oriole fans couldn't think that based on building what we had back when the Oriole Way meant something positive. But if it's just to be "competitive" to the point where most years the team wins from 80-85 games, that's not good enough. 25 years (and counting) between pennants, 11 years (and counting) without a winning record or playoff appearance - that is not something we fans feel should EVER be acceptable.

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Pete's reply: I think MacPhail was pretty clear at the outset. Job One was the restock the player development system, an area where there has been some real progress. He also said he would conserve free agent resources until the team was in a position to add players that would complete the transition to a team that could compete with the elite teams in the AL East. This obviously is not that year, but Teixeira was a special case so they made a run at him. McPhail also said he would avoid giving long-term deals to free agent pitchers. He altered his position slightly when things went south in August and showed some interest in A.J. Burnett, but he has basically been true to his original stated objectives. Nobody has to be happy with that, but I don't think the guy has been deceiving anybody.

I never called him "MacFail", so don't imply that I did.

As far as which program you should get behind, how about his own. The one which was supposed to rebuild the organization with young talent, not 30 something has beens.


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Pete's reply: Didn't say you called him that, but many people have. The point of signing 30-something guys to fill one-year holes is because you can't sign free agent 24-year-olds. They're all under reserve if they're any good. You still have to field a team. If they were signing these guys to three-year contracts, I would be right there with you on this, but they aren't, and they'll get younger after this year when a couple of other older guys come to the end of their guarantees. Does this mean they'll start climbing the standings. I don't know. I have my doubts in this environment, but there is nothing incongruous about rebuilding and signing stopgap veterans.

Pete - thanks for your reply. That's what I thought was the objective, but couldn't be sure I had actually read it stated as such. After so many people complaining that Andy was brought in just to save money and not to try to win pennants I was starting to question what I thought I knew. I for one believe that there is not any shortcut, and that the steps that have been taken are in the right direction. Sometimes it gets difficult to maintain hope that at some point there will indeed be light at the end of the tunnel that is not an oncoming train.


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Pete's reply: Agreed, though I don't know if you can be confident there is light at the end of the tunnel. I think right now the Orioles would be happy to get out from under the mountain.

Pete,
How good are your "sources"? Any news on us SIGNING not just talking about signing a decent FA to make it look good. Is there any rumors at all about Sheets, From what I can see the Rangers are theonly team talking to him. And if the Rangers can sign him and he fits into their plans, thenwhy in the world cant he fix into ours.

i would rather see what our young pitchers "on the bubble" can do, rather than get another 1-year veteran to eat innings. Let's see if Liz, Penn, Olson etc. have anything....or say goodbye to 'em once and for all.
Agree?

Pete -- any chance we'll sign Braden Looper? Seems like he wouldn't be too expensive, he's not THAT old (34) and he's only been a starter for a couple years, so he might reasonably be expected to last a little longer without a ton of innings on his arm.

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Pete's reply: I think it's possible, because I think they're still in the market for one more starter, even if they act like they're not.

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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