Orioles Put Themselves in Current Offseason Situation
Dan Duquette has said he's dedicated to building a winner in Baltimore. Orioles fans, especially after last week's largely inactive Winter Meetings, have a right to ask about a timeline and whether the organization is truly dedicated to doing it.
The only player the team made a move for during the week was a journeyman pitcher, Dana Eveland. Teams that don't have the big-market pedigree of the Yankees and Red Sox signed high-profile free agents. While it's true that the Marlins and Angels have each won a World Series somewhat recently and are near Miami and Los Angeles respectively, both teams have been moderate free agent players during recent years.
That changed during the winter meetings, as baseball's top players were gobbled up to play in South Beach and Anaheim.
Orioles fans impatiently watched a similar thing happen between 2007 and 2011 during the Andy MacPhail era. MacPhail promised to grow the arms and buy the bats, but the top sluggers never seriously considered Camden Yards as their ultimate destination. They're not doing it now, either.
MacPhail's successor, Duquette, still has a few more weeks to make a ripple or two during the winter, but the chances of that happening are starting to look slim. O's fans have come to expect the team to make a signing around the Fan Fest in late January, be it extending one of their own or landing an aging veteran that gets the fan base momentarily excited.
Duquette might be a new boss, but he appears to be operating under the same rules as the old. His interest in the international market is the one major difference.
No one needs to remind the Orioles that they have 14 straight losing seasons under their belt. But, they act like it. Money is not an issue in Baltimore, even if the Orioles say it is. No matter how much they've maneuvered their way to being a mid-market team, they've largely done that by choice.
Despite having a successful television network making impressive waves of cash, the Orioles are choosing to not spend on the game's biggest players. They are not a victim of being a have not.
How they operate is an organizational choice. They create the lowered expectations the fans have and they foster it.
They can't answer uprisings by fans with public relations decisions either. They have to do it with competitive baseball choices. With the expansion of the Wild Card, the Orioles have to stop viewing their competition as the American League East alone, but the entire AL.The Angels, who signed Albert Pujols this week, are showing that they're willing to chase the Rangers for the AL West's top crown. With the Rangers being the top team in the AL the last two seasons, the power in baseball could be shifting out west. The Wild Card race isn't just about the Yankees, Red Sox or Tampa Bay Rays anymore. It's expanding.
The Orioles are simply watching from the sideline as the playoff chase begins now. Duquette re-entered the game this fall because he wanted to field a winner. The question is, will be allowed to spend the cash necessary to do it?
Posted Dec. 11, 2011