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Is Garrett Atkins an upgrade at third over Melvin Mora?

We’re so close to Christmas I can almost smell it. Or maybe that’s the mall Santa at the end of the bar drinking his paycheck. Bad Santa (loved that flick), but we accept all kinds here at Connolly’s.

I’ve done my best to try and remain in the Christmas spirit. We have Dylan’s “Christmas In The Heart.” on the jukebox right now (it‘s definitely cool if you haven‘t picked it up), and I’ve listened to the Bowie-Bing “Little Drummer Boy” roughly 1,000 times so far.

I did feel a little Scrooge-y earlier this week when my tremendous neighbor Denny allowed me to borrow his snowblower and I paid him back by running over a patch of Christmas lights and pulling the blower’s blade right out of the casing. Seriously.

I am hoping it isn‘t broken -- another friend got the blade back in thankfully -- meanwhile Denny received an early Christmas present of a case of Blue Moon Belgian Wheat courtesy of his idiot neighbor.

Anyway, we’ll be closing the doors for Christmas, but we’ll move Prediction Friday to Prediction Thursday this week, and leave it up until Sunday’s clash in Pittsburgh.

We’ll talk football then. We’ll talk Orioles now.

Garrett Atkins was introduced Tuesday and will likely be the Orioles’ 2010 Opening Day third baseman unless they sign someone else -- such as Joe Crede -- later in the offseason and move Atkins to first base.

Atkins just turned 30, and had three seasons, from 2006 to 2008, in which he batted .286 or better, hit 21 homers or more and drove in 99 or more runs. In 2006, he batted .329 with a .409 on-base percentage, hit 29 homers, 48 doubles and had 120 RBIs.

He placed 15th in the MVP voting that year and was part of a Colorado Rockies team that made the World Series in 2007. But then there was 2009, when he batted .226 with nine homers and 48 RBIs, lost his starting job and eventually his spot on the Rockies‘ roster.

To me, his one-year $4.5 million contract (that includes a $500,000, 2011 option buyout) is a low-risk, high-reward move for a talented player looking to rebound. But, after hearing about the Atkins signing, a friend of mine shook his head and said, “The Orioles should have just re-signed Melvin Mora for another year.”

Truth is the Orioles and Mora are probably both better off with a divorce after 10 seasons together, especially after Mora and manager Dave Trembley publicly clashed toward the end of the season. Mora turns 38 in February and had a rough 2009. He batted .260 with eight homers and 48 RBIs -- numbers similar to Atkins in about 100 more plate appearances.

But Mora was pretty good defensively last year and Atkins isn’t known for his defense, though I have heard mixed reviews on that part of his game.

So, if you look at the numbers and throw in defense, I guess I can see my friend’s point. Although I still contend it was time for the Orioles and Mora to part ways and Atkins, based on age alone, has a much higher upside.

Daily Think Special: Is Garrett Atkins an upgrade at third over Melvin Mora?

Comments

Simple answer....Yes

Because he chose to come here and wants to be here. Mora was mentally fried here. Let him go sign in Philly or DC so he can stay in the area, but it was time.

Atkins is significantly younger than Mora and was significantly better than Mora at the peaks of their respective careers. He and Mora both had similarly bad years last season and could repeat them, so this acquisition isn't exactly something to jump for joy about, but Atkins has a lot more potential upside than Mora does in 2010. Mora is basically done. Atkins might be done -- or he might be just getting started as a very good hitter who had a single off-year at age 30. I know who I'd rather have (with the caveat that neither is someone I'd really be enthusiastic about handing a starting position in an ideal world where the Orioles were willing to spend money and there was more available talent out there).

Got to be an upgrade if nobody is there, I guess. Yes, it was time for Mora to go. (sadly) Its a stop-gap. I'd say high reward, if the Crow can work his magic, but low risk - IF - Bell is the real deal and is in Baltimore by September. If Atkins can catch the enthusiasm of a young up and coming team maybe the desire to "prove" himself does reignite the fire. Got to take the chance.

Atkins is definitely an upgrade for several reasons. We pretty much know what Mora had become, diminishing power, solid defense and a terrible run producer. At least with Atkins, he could be something special so it's worth the low risk. If he performs well, maybe they trade him for prospects and clear the way for Bell or possibly sign him to another deal. If Atkins is awful, then they can move Bell up early or play Wiggington more.

Sharp drop recently. When did they start mandatory testing?

If you are planning on somebody coming up from the minors, at least put a good fielder in there. Is Jeff Reboulet still available?

i'll take one of those Blue Moon's......

Melmo felt de manajer no respect him no more so he leave. If dis true, den we are better off wifout Melmo.

Can't be any worse, can it?

Yes....he is younger and he has the ability to play first. Also I'm sure he won't throw a tantrum if he is moved around in the lineup or given a day off. Mora is definitely a better defensive 3rd basemen, but hopefully Atkins will be at 1st base or DH by June anyway once Josh Bell is brought up.

Yes he is.

He provides flexibility, 1B or 3B, and has to have a better attitude. Plus he is closer in age to the rest of the team and has an upside. There is no upside left to MelMo.

There is no no doubt that Atkins is an upgrade.

yes.

Mora was a long term soldier for us in the darkest years. He was also moody and apparently mercurial and too proud. That kind of guy being the most senior presence in the clubhouse can't be a good thing.

The nice thing about all the Oriole moves is that they can be described as low risk high reward. In related news, Rich Hill says he feels better.

Probably no, however he is cheaper and most likely a better baserunner. But, in reality, he's only keeping the hot corner warm for someone else who may be up before the all-star break anyway.

Matt - I like your comment. However, remember that can all change quick. we have had other guys chooe to come here and then complain about it afterwards (Kline, the outfielder we traded away last year to name a couple).

I am not sure Atkins is even a good substitute for Wigginton, frankly. I would have liked to see the team save its money which it could use towards signing a true impact player, the type needed to actually win. Atkins is... just not what you need if you have aspirations towards being a winning team.

I hope I am wrong.

Upgrade over what? Atkins is coming off a terrible season and defensively he is not going to make anybody forget Brooks Robinson. Macphail is running true to form so far and has not made the type of improvements to the roster that will have much of an impact on the standings.

I am deeply disappointed in Macphail and where he is on his timeline to bring a winning team to Baltimore.

The team needs to be competitive in 2010 and good next year for Macphail to have any credibility in baltimore before he moves on to the commssioner's office.

Unless he has something else up his sleeve the Orioles will likely win around 70 games this year and that is unacceptable,especially with Macphail going into his 4th year.

Yes, because of the potential upside if Crowley can get him straightened out. But if his slide continues this year, look for Mora numbers without the defense, plus Josh Bell inserted prematurely into the lineup by August, and a whole lot of criticism of the front office. Can't wait for the drama to begin!

This shouldn't even be a debate or article. There is no creditable baseball person that would take 38 year old Mora over 30 year old Atkins.

I'll have to include the snowblower scene when I write the screenplay to "Connolly's Corner Sports Bar: The Movie". I'm thinking Vince Vaughn could play our barkeep. I'll work on the rest of the casting later.

The answer to today's question is: potentially. And definitely for 2010 if Dave Trembley is the manager. A shame that things ended the way they did with MelMo and his Orioles career, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I am hopeful that a motivated Atkins can put up enough offense to compensate for his glove and take away any sense of urgency to rush Bell along.

Of course, I also hope Bell forces the issue by terrorizing the International League in April, May, and June.

Does a bear Crap in the woods? Is the Pope Catholic?

Who knows??

In fact, even financially its indeterminate; what would Mora have taken to play one more after his option was declined? He certainly won't get 4 million from anyone else; more likely a minor league deal is in the works for him.

I'd also like to counter a statement made above that their respective best years were not comparable ---- Mora's .340, 27, and 104 was pretty darn good. historic, in fact.

Let the games begin

There will be a big upgrade at third base...when Bell comes up in July.
Atkins will be a better baserunner, unless he's blindfolded...actually if he was blindfolded, they'd be about even.

I'm expecting Atkins to be nothing better than average/marginal. However, there is a chance he could work out great -- knock out 25+ HRs and drive in 90+ runs. So, with that chance and with the fact that he is younger and probably has a better attitude, he is definitely an upgrade over Mora. If the O's had started with Wiggington at 3rd and Hughes/Aubrey at 1st, I don't think I would watch more than a game or two all year.

Yes. Not a huge upgrade but if he can produce like he did before 09 than he's way better than Mora. For a short term solution Atkins is solid.

First of all, I always liked Melvin and tip my hat to him for enduring some painful years with us, yet still putting up big numbers from time to time- and playing hard. He was a very underrated hitter and really improved defensively over the years.

That said, with his age and verbal complaining last year it is time to move on. Atkins has tremendous upside and I think is primed for a bounce back year. I think AM made a good move- especially since it gives Bell more time to develop.

Jeff Z. showed his #s outside of Coors in his article. So if GA is on par this year with his career avg. outside of Coors and gets 600 ABs we are looking at .252 with 21 hrs .415 slugging %, .325 obp. Note that his #s have declined his last 3 years. All 162 games will not be at Coors.

Is Atkins A-Rod? No. But I've seen him play more than 30 games at Coors Field, and he can hit. I think he will hit in Baltimore. I wouldn't be at all surprised by 26+ dingers and 90+ RBIs. There is nothing better than a very good player coming off a bad year with something to prove to his old team and, especially, his new one. Now, if we could just sign Koufax, Drysdale, Marichal, Spahn, Sain, and a couple of days of rain, we might have a team!

Hey Tom, the question was "Is Adkins an upgrade? Not would you take Mora over Adkins.
So the question is VERY RELEVANT and the true answer will come about September 2010 if not before.

I am thinking push...

I don't know enough about him to say how I feel about his defense. Mora was very good. He made some errors but he also had a nack for the GEM that would end up on Sports Center.

Offensively, Atkins played in Coors Field so his numbers need altitude ajusted. Considering he hit 226 in the best hitters park in baseball....this is a crap shoot at best.

However, the move does buy some time for Bell and for that reason alone I think it is a good one.

Took me awhile, but yes, I can say a bear does crap in the woods.

As for casting the regulars in CSB Jack's "CCSB" screenplay, Rich MUST be played by Jack Nicholson and George Clooney would be a natural in my seat.

CSB Jack, who plays Jack? Bruce Willis? I

I would much rather see Atkins at 1st and Miggy at 3rd. Miggy's numbers last yr : Hit .313, from 653 AB's, Slammed 199 Hits, 46 Doubles, 14 Dingers, 86 RBI's, .455 SLG %, which would be very nice from a 3rd basemen. Add Bedard too, and both of their previous trades will have gone down in baseball history as total steals! So no, the O's are not better at 3rd if they stop w Atkins and that's where he plays for 182 games.

Atkins is probably better than Mora at this point ijn their respective livres, but Melvin is about eight years older. Mora will be in the Orioles team Hall of Fame and Atkins won't be. Same goes for Mike Gonzalez and Kevin Millwood. Which same? Dunno and don't care..

And finally, if we can sign Erik Bedard and get him healthy and happy, he'll once again be as good as any left-handed stud in the game.

Bottom line: We are on the verge of a serious pitching staff - even better if Bedard is here and healthy - with a hitting lineup one monster away from being seriously good and will make a major splash with one next winter..

Being in the same division with You-Know-Who and You-Know-Who-Else is an unavoidable "Life's a bitch and then you die" part of the game that cannot be helped.

But on the bright side, in four months, we can argue whether we need a defensive back, pass rusher, and/or wide receiver instead. Also, who is available and how much does he want.

Life's a bitch, if you ask me. And then you die.

Dont forget Atkins played on a World series Team, he also bring the experience of winning which this clubhouse needs more of.

Defensively, they are similar in their error count, although Melvin mad a lot the past two years (maybe 5 kids will do that to you).

Atkins is younger and if he can get his swing back, he could be a real asset. It looked like he was only playing 3rd when he was hitting better so I wonder if 1B, in some way, distracts him at the plate.

Very good move. if he returns to his previous level, you have a real good hitter in the lineup. If not, you let him go next year.Anyhow, Bell s/b up here soon,and Adkins w/have to move to first anyway.

I am baffled by the people who comment on here that McPhail is not doing a good job. Were these people dropped on their heads as children? We have come so far since he took over as far as talent and prospects go. It's like night and day. You can't turn an organization around in a year or two. It takes good drafting and trading. Free agents are not in his total control. They have a choice and the owner has a major say here too. We are on our way to being very good. When the young guys get the experience and improve then the free agents will come.

As far as Mora and Atkins go, I'd say it's a push as well. Atkins's bat will be better but his defense will not. It was time for Mora to go but I feel for a guy who played for this great organization when it was at rock bottom. His frustration was understandable to an extent. I hope Bell turns out to be a stud.

Be patient folks, it's coming. We're going to have an unstoppable rotation in the very near future. Please don't trade them!

Atkins is a significant upgrade over an aging Mora.

Atkins playing with Mike Aubrey gives the Orioles corner infielders with lots of upside now.

Annualize Aubrey partial season and we have 25 hrs, a solid .289 batting average, a .500 slugging average, .826 OPS and slick defense. Add Jones, Reimold and Atkins to the lineup and Aubrey's offense should improve. Mike looks like a dangerous 1st baseman to me. Another Jim Gentile?

What are his life time numbers away from Coors Field,.250? Big deal! Bring back Melvin, Atkins adds nothing

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