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January 15, 2009

More answers from Andy

andyandueharaAP.jpgFollowing the Koji Uehara news conference at Camden Yards yesterday, Andy MacPhail held court with a group of reporters and addressed a few of the issues facing the front office over the weeks leading up to the opening of spring training. One of those that seems to be of interest to a lot of posters on this blog is whether he'll consider a big bat such as Adam Dunn to anchor the offensive lineup.

He didn't specifically rule that out, but did not sound particularly interested in making a big expenditure on a veteran hitter (or pitcher) who might only be here for the developmental part of his rebuilding plan.

“There are some guys that while they may help you win a couple more games in 2009, are they really going to help you advance the goal in the big picture?" he said. "So that’s one of the things we have to balance.”

He continues to look for help at first base, but apparently not because of any reluctance to assign the position to Aubrey Huff.

"I am absolutely open to Aubrey being that guy,'' he said. "He has an interest in doing it. He had an outstanding season for us last year. We are fortunate we have that internal option. But it even goes beyond Aubrey being able to play first. He can play third and he can DH. We are not in no way shape or form relegating it to like we had to find a catcher. We did have to find a catcher. We don’t necessarily have to find a first baseman, because we have a perfectly, very attractive alternative in Huff. But there are a lot of moving pieces to that puzzle and we have time."

Associated Press photo

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 6:00 AM | | Comments (34)
Categories: Just baseball


Sounds like Wigginton is a viable option if his asking price comes down. Could play 3rd next year, replacing Mora, if it has to be a 2 year deal. Good right handed hitter like they want.

They will be lucky to win 65 games this year and get 1.5 M tickets sold. But it could still a good year if the pitching prospects develop as hoped, a positive resolution to Roberts (either way), a contract extension for Markakis and a few good trades at the trade deadline to yield more talent. It just won't translate into happier fans until they start winning.

In other words, when Dunn put his price tag out in public and stated that he would like to play the outfield, MacPhail ruled him out...I was really hoping to see him at least considered. Oh well...

i like the idea of using huff at firstbase and leaving then a spot on the team for montanez or salazar to platoon with someone between dh and the field.

I agree with Andy it is a puzzle. When SI voted Peter Angelos the worst owner I thought it was really unfair. Guy spent millions on players his kids wanted, how can you say a bad thing about a dad that listens to his kids.....

Good Luck Andy!

I am continually impressed w/Andy MacPhail. He is always planning ahead for all the pieces to fall in place. I am very optimistic about the O's future.

Did Andy just call Aubrey attractive?! What a difference a year makes!

Pete, I don't understand not going after Millar. He needs a team and we need a first baseman. What gives?

Your 2009 O's Starting Lineup:

2B Roberts
3B Mora
RF Markakis
1B Huff
CF Jones
LF Scott
DH Montanez/Salazar
C Zaun
SS Izturis

62-100 here we come!!!

Pete's reply: So, what do you think the record would be if they signed Dunn and put him in the middle of the lineup?

It seems that the Grand Plan now involves waiting to see if any other veteran pitcher can't get an offer anywhere else...that certainly leaves out any remaining middle of the road types who teams will have to spend money for in this market- guys like Ben Sheets, Randy Wolf, Braden Looper, Oliver or Odalis Perez, Paul Byrd, even Mark Mulder - none of these are going to come begging for a minor league contract to the Orioles.
Who does that leave...basically either over the hill veterans- the Kenny Rogers, Curt Schillings of the world or the problem children like Sidney Ponson.
Basically, the Orioles never seriously intended to sign any pitcher this year because their plan is to give 2009 over to Liz, Olson, Waters, etc. which is an excellent budgetary choice for sure- and we can spin it as "developing those young players." And the only pitcher they might have had to spend even any limited dollars for- Daniel Cabrera, they cut loose. Here's hoping Daniel turns into Randy Johnson.
The Japanese signing seems just a token effort to act like a player in the Japanese market, not because this guy is truly likely to be more effective than say...Randy Wolf.
A question for Andy is how would signing a veteran to a one year deal- like Brad Penny did, like Carl Pavano did, like Tim Redding did, like John Smoltz exactly does this disrupt the Grand Plan?
Here's a thought...there is no Grand Plan except only do what Angelos allows you to do and wait and hope that somehow the guys in the minors pipeline turn out better than they have in the past fifteen years.
Maybe some of those dollars that came back in the Chad Bradford giveaway to our division rival could have been used this year to make the product on the field a little less laughable.
Here's hoping the Ravens continue as far as possible since they are the only professional organization in this town.

Does it really matter ?

Go Ravens...............


The way the O's seem to pass on available talent (like Tex, Dunn), just what year do you think we as fans will see tangible results from the constant "rebuilding" projects?

Peter's reply: Probably when you let it proceed on it's logical course. I don't know if it will work, but I'd like to see what happens. We already know how the O's do when they go out and haphazardly sign free agents to keep the fringe fans happy. Remember, MacPhail has been here 18 months and a lot of people are ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The funny thing is, the "McFail" people have the same attitude that Angelos had for the 10 years before Andy. React with your gut, hope you guess right and then act like it was somebody else's idea when it goes wrong.

The GM's comments make my head hurt! He talks in abstracts about the development of a future team which will win but doesn't want to gain immediate resources to win ballgames now. Olsen, Liz ,Huff, Markakis and Roberts will be history when the GM's developmental goals are realized. I thought his job was to give the manager and coaches players to create high entertainment ,that is winning 50 % of scheduled ballgames and developing a team for play- off participation by 2010-2011: his statements leave me with the impression that he doen't know how to communicate his rebuilding plan's steps.

Pete's reply: Maybe he thinks that those immediate steps to win ballgames now will lock the team into 73 wins a season for another 11 years.


Firt, I'd like to say it was fun seeing you on the MLB network a couple times this week, most noteably you speaking of Kevin Millar as baseball's number 9th best character of all time...

But seriously, why not go after Dunn with Huff playing first? And why are we so far away from Millar?

Pete's reply: I would be okay with Dunn...and I already miss Kevin. But they probably won't make that big an acquistion and they seem intent on moving past Millar.


I kind of find it odd that Mr. MacPhail doesn't really seem to want to be proactive in the remaining pitching market. After all, he decided to let Daniel Cabrera go. Not like he was amazing or anything, but he was a guy who could give you 180-200 innings. He has been replaced by Koji Uehara and he has some health concerns with his legs, was pitching in a 6 man rotation, and has been used as a reliever quite a lot in the last two seasons of his Japanese career.

And then there is Mark Hendrickson whom Trembley seems to think is a reliever and not a starter for this club.

This means that some of the usual suspects from last year will be in the rotation again. I thought the idea was to get some veteran arms in here for a year or two so that these guys wouldn't have to pitch again this year?

If he is expecting any other starter to just fall into his lap, he's mistaken. That isn't going to happen.

Right now I am looking at a rotation of:

Penn (because he has no options left)

Those last two to three slots could be open for anybody who pitches decently in Spring. I guess they think Albers and Bass are going to be starters? And I have to think that Hendrickson is in the mix, despite the comments from Trembley. The incentives in his contract make me think that if there was no way in the world he would reach them (30 starts and 180IP I think they are?) that he wouldn't have signed the deal.

andy has a plan. that is more than we had before he was here. thank you, mr. mcphail. stick to the plan. i am behind you 100%.

Two questions:

1) If MacPhail is reluctant to sign anyone of impact who may not be here past the "developmental" part of his rebuilding plan, just HOW long is this developmental part? Most impact free agents are not going to sign for less then 4 - 5 years, so is he saying that it's going to take more than that to rebuild?

2) If that's the case, why didn't he move Brian Roberts last year? Surely by the time the O's "rebuild" Roberts will be closer to 40 then he is to 30.

The Great Communicator, MacPhail is not. I have no better idea about his "plan" and where he is attempting to go with it. He seems reluctant, almost hesitant to let Reimold or Montanez compete for a position, but in the meantime he has not meaningfully gone after anyone to platoon with Scott in LF or be a legitimate bat as a part-time DH/1B with Huff.

Everyone is concerned about pitching and yes, we don't have anyone that's a solid in the rotation beyond Guthrie and Uehara. But we're stocked in the minors with that. Next year or the year after, I can see that part of the plan working out.

But this team can not and will not score any runs. There's nothing (beyond Weiters) that is all-star caliber in the minors and I see nothing that leads me to believe that MacPhail will go after any top free agents once/if we become competitive. That's assuming any would want to come here in the first place.

To those that posted in reply to me about Koji & how he is so highly thought of.... keep the faith guys, admirable. I have tried this coolaid before & know better now....
potter is doing it on the cheap & hopes enough buy in, not me. This guy was hardly a highly desired FA.

Pete's reply: Now Brian, I know you don't like to be edited, so I didn't change a word, but it is spelled Kool-Aid.


About half the teams viewed Uehara as a reliever - that's why he wasn't on many people's radar as a starter. However, he was rated higher than Kawakami on the free agent list.

Also, if Koji hits all of his incentives, he makes $8m a year. That's hardly cheap, but it is effective. Throw in the fact that he's a very important first step into the Japanese market, and it's a good signing.

I'm not giving up on Garrett Olson, either. He did win 9 games for us last year, even if his ERA was high. I think that once he gets some more confidence, he'll be a much better pitcher. I think he has the stuff to win 12-15 ballgames a year. I'm not ready to jump ship after the guy has had 26 starts in the majors.

I know that Hayden Penn is out of options, but what has he ever proven to the Orioles besides how to get hurt or be late?


Why not just ask Andy straight up how he plans on filling 1B, 2B, 3B and DH from 2010 and beyond.

It's funny that most of the negativity on the blog surrounds the team not acquiring starting pitching. But when you look at the franchise as a whole, it's really the strenght of the organization. Maybe not at the major league level, but certainly AAA and below. We just need to be patient in order for it to pan out that way. Besides since when did Liz and Olsen become less attractive options. Liz despite his walks is really tough to hit and Olson has looked good at times. I don't think our pitching is as bad as people seam to think.

Question.... several times you have eluded to MacPhail's 5 year "PLAN". Try as I might, I have yet to find a quote from him saying he had a 5 year plan. Can you reference this for me ?

Pete's reply: The reference to a five-year plan is mine. I've often criticized this team and the Angels (the team I covered before the O's) of repeatedly embarking on five-year plans and then cutting them off early. I don't know if Andy ever called it a five-year plan. I know in 2007 it sounded very much like a four-year plan, based on the configuration of the minor league system and the club's draft status. I think they have to show some real results by next year or there won't be anybody to watch the team if it ever gets better. They certainly don't seem to have much chance of being competitive this year.

In free agent news, Rickey Henderson has just proclaimed himself available as a left fielder:

Just think about it. He'd give the O's some speed at the top of the lineup after BRob is traded. He's well past his prime and will work for cheap, so he meets the O's two top criteria for free agent signings. He'd even be willing to play in the WBC, once someone explains to him what it is...

After all, there is a precedent. The O's gave Jim Palmer a chance after he went into the HOF...

To those that posted in reply to me about Koji & how he is so highly thought of.... keep the faith guys, admirable. I have tried this coolaid before & know better now....
potter is doing it on the cheap & hopes enough buy in, not me. This guy was hardly a highly desired FA.

Pete's reply: Now Brian, I know you don't like to be edited, so I didn't change a word, but it is spelled Kool-Aid.

Posted by: Brian | January 15, 2009 10:56 AM

:-) I don't use spell check & I was in a hurry... thanks for the correction.

GUYS! Did anyone see Dunn play last year? With AZ he was less than stellar and HE was supposed to be the one who gave the Dbacks a push for the postseason. That failed. Dunn is no better than Millar. I would much rather have Huff play first and give a bench seat to Montanez, Reimold, Salaazar etc... No need to spend that much freeking money on someone who will be here one year.

Even though I think MacPhail is a good guy to lead us thru a rebuild, I can't stand his constant political BS answers. The man NEVER actually answers a question definitively. It's pretty amazing, but also really frustrating. I understand being careful and judicious when you are negotiating with a player, but jeez, can't you give the fans a LITTLE bit of honest and SPECIFIC insight into what is going on?

Pete's reply: Yes, Andy is overly diplomatic, but he knows better than to say "I really want to sign Teixeira" or some other big name because it gets people's hopes up and the Orioles aren't an attractive option for the good free agents right now. The other option is to be brutally honest (his term) and tell people that the team is just going to stink this year and stop worrying about it. But then you're insulting the players you have. He's in a no-win situation, I think.

Well, a lot of the postings seem to agree with my mindset. Andy theturtle sounds as though Uehara was the BIG addition along with lesser lights like Itzuris and Hendrikson. He is backing off all talk about a SOLID starter to augment Guthrie. I'm sure everyone believes that Guthrie is indistructable and will have an even better 2009 than 2008. Also that Uethara will turn out to be even better than "Dice K". Oh, and yeah, we'll bring someone up from AAA or AA, or even A ball to replace Millar's bat. Of course Roberts and Mora will have even better years than 2008 and Markakis and Jones will turn into Mantle and Maris as hitters. While we're dreaming maybe Weiters is another Bench and two of our minor/major league pitchers will turn out like Palmer and O'Malley. "What a Wonderful World" as Louie used to sing!
What I see is the O's struggling through another miserable season with the media getting on Trembley as it did with Gomer, Maz and Sam. Can't fire all the players can you? Run the Manager out of town. Someone has to take the blame.
Funny that we've come full circle. From the perennially last plce St. Louis to the perennially (to be) last place Orioles. What a legacy!

Pete's reply: Where did you get that great crystal ball. Nobody else is predicting a bad season for the Orioles. Listen, MacPhail said 18 months ago was the only way to have any hope of competing with the Yankees and Red Sox was to be brutally honest about the condition of the franchise. It was in such bad shape that the first step was to fix player development, something that can't be done in 18 months. Let's all take a breath and repeat to ourselves that this is going to be a bad year. Nobody is denying that. If you want to root for the O's and keep your sanity, you're going to have to look past this year, and that would have been true with Adam Dunn in the lineup and Derek Lowe in the rotation. If you hate the Orioles now or are just sick of the losing and can't find a way to enjoy the team, look the other way. Why punish yourselves. I've said all along that McPhail's plan may be the only hope, but there's a pretty good chance it won't get the O's into contention no matter how successful it is.

Like I said, put Huff at first.

Dunn can not hit for average, would be poor money spent at this point. this team scored well and hit lots of homers last year, WE NEED PITCHING!!

Millar would be ok as a filler, but he shouldn't be our front line starter at first at this point.


I seem to agree with your thoughts on the Orioles strategy to improve. After a year (plus) on the job for Andy, I don't understand why we are looking to be competitive now when the plan has always been 2 to 3 years out. But... what pieces are being put in place now for a successful 2010 and beyond? (Other than the Japanese connection, and international scouts.)
Are we in a wait-and-see on the minor-league prospects? Is that the strategy? What else is being done?

Pete's reply: Just what you are saying. They're growing WIeters and Matusz and Adam Jones and hoping some of these young pitchers pop this year. Be interesting to see if the arms are more consistent with a new catcher.


I guess as an average (die hard) fan I have it backwards. To me, if someone/anyone can help you win a few games this year and/or next and his salary does not blow your budget out of the water then why not take him. If Dunn (though I feel he would be a clubhouse disaster) only means 5 more wins then that is 5 more wins the paying fams get to see, and the 5 wins may just bring a few hundred more people to the park each game. Your thoughts?

Pete's reply: Assuming that every team has a budget except the Yankees, when you sign Adam Dunn for $26 million for two years, that's money you won't have to spend on somebody three years from now when you might be competitive. So you get five more wins the next two years, finish last this year and maybe fourth next year, and that may be where the progress stops. That said, I wouldn't mind having Dunn right now to juice up the team, but you asked for a rationale for not signing him.


I guess as an average (die hard) fan I have it backwards. To me, if someone/anyone can help you win a few games this year and/or next and his salary does not blow your budget out of the water then why not take him. If Dunn (though I feel he would be a clubhouse disaster) only means 5 more wins then that is 5 more wins the paying fams get to see, and the 5 wins may just bring a few hundred more people to the park each game. Your thoughts?

Pete's reply: So, what do you think the record would be if they signed Dunn and put him in the middle of the lineup?
Maybe 63 - 99. Maybe!!

All of these people who keep posting things like sign Dunn need to understand what the O's are doing now. They are REBUILDING. Yes we have sucked for 11 years, but that does not change the fact that we were mismanaged and now really need to rebuild. I for one am excited that we actually are going through with it. Building with draft picks, giving young guys a chance, increasing our over seas scouting etc. YES we are going to struggle for several more seasons, but if we don't try this approch we will never have a shot at building a young talented team like Tampa Bay currently has. Remember Tampa was terrible for a lot of years. They built up their system and now have a team that looks like it can compete for years to come. I don't know if McPhail can do this or not, but I would rather head in this direction then sign over priced free agents who may sound good, but really won't help us get anything more then 4th place instead of 5th.

What Players did the O's ever sign cuse the Owners kids wanted him too? Whoever ever it was must not have been much since we have the worst owner in sports, his kids bad choices dont surprise me either.

Pete's reply: That's an apocryphal tale. There were rumors at one time that Peter's sons were rotisserie players who were recommending players at the dinner table. Never proven and Peter always denied it emphatically. And it was a long, long time ago.

Once again, I am moved to think...

Andy McPhail is the general manager of a major league baseball team worth hundreds of millions of dollars. I, as a fan of the team, am not *ENTITLED* to have Mr. McPhail explain his actions to me, no more than I, as a fan of Chevrolet cars, am entitled to have the CEO of General Motors explain their business plan for the future. To those fans who think they are entitled... get over it! You are not that important!

Andy is doing a great job considering the situation he inherited. I hope that the young pitching delivers, but other than taking an incentive-laden shot at Ben Sheets I am not interested in overpaying for yet another mediocre veteran pitcher just because the kids "might not be ready". They might not, but they might, and we won't find out unless we give them the ball.

My biggest gripe is that our minor league system seems to only be able of producing 5 inning pitchers. Why is that?

Pete's reply: I think because everybody's organization is.


I think I found a clue why the O's (and probably other organizations) can't produce pitchers who can go late into games. Living in Aberdeen I've gone to more than a few Ironbirds games. I recently checked an old scorebook from this past season. They had *16* pitchers listed on the roster. How can you develop pitchers when you have that many you are trying to get game experience, especially in a short-season league? It's like throwing mud at a wall trying to plug up a leak. You might get lucky and hit the leak with some mud, but most of it just falls off. The either need another minor league team (or 2 or 3), or they need to cut down on the number of players they have signed and on the rosters of these teams. I've heard of people being "organizational depth", but this is ridiculous!

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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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