The Orioles Trade That Keeps On Giving
By Stan "The Fan" Charles
The Orioles are 2-0 during this current homestand, during which they have three games versus Seattle, four versus Kansas City and three versus Boston. As they begin play Wednesday, in the finale against the Mariners, the O's have chopped off 5.5 games out of what once was a 10-game Yankees lead.
Although most of the focus is, rightly so, on the key members of the Birds' baseball management, namely general manager Dan Duquette and field manager Buck Showalter, let's tip the cap to Duquette's predecessor, Andy MacPhail.
If you don't think MacPhail deserves much of the credit, ask the folks in Seattle and then think about it some more. The Mariners must cringe every time they have to look the Orioles in the eyes and have a former Mariner or a player with a modest degree of separation from the trade that started the Orioles' rebuilding in the offseason between 2007 and 2008, which was MacPhail's first offseason with the Birds.
MacPhail took then-Mariners GM Bill Bavasi to the cleaners and pretty much got him fired by dumping problem child Erik Bedard on the unsuspecting M's, and received in return center fielder Adam Jones and pitchers Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, Tony Butler and Kam Mickolio.
That’s not too shabby of a haul for Bedard, who had amassed a grand total of 40 wins during his five seasons with the Orioles, while losing 34 times. Since he arrived in Seattle, and including a missed 2010 season, a short stop in Boston last season and his less-than-stellar 6-12 mark this year in Pittsburgh, Bedard is 22-28 during the 4.5 seasons since he left the nest.
The now-33-year-old lefty is a career .500 pitcher (62-62). In return, came Adam Jones, who has been a Gold Glove defender and a two-time American League All-Star. George Sherrill, a left-handed reliever who became the O's closer during his first season, was an All-Star on his way to a run of 51 saves during his 1.5 seasons in Baltimore.
Also in the deal was a tall, lanky right-handed pitcher who was just 19 at the time. Tillman has been a work in progress, at times looking as if he might squander his talent. Now 24, Tillman looks as if he may have figured some stuff out, to the point that he could really become a difference maker for the Orioles.
MacPhail saw that Sherrill was bought low, and he sold him high, in obtaining the hoped-for third baseman of the future, Josh Bell, and right-handed pitcher Steve Johnson from the Dodgers at the July 31 deadline in 2009.
Bell, while still in the big leagues with the Arizona Diamondbacks, has pretty much been a bust, but the Orioles have stayed the course with Johnson, the son of former big leaguer Dave Johnson, now a MASN analyst.
Johnson made his big league debut about three weeks ago, and tonight will make his first big-league start. On hand will be his proud father and mother, who will have smiles from ear to ear.
During this three-game series against the Mariners, Tillman dominated and won during the first game, Adam Jones drove in the game-winning run in the 14th inning last night and now the Orioles are poised to go for the sweep with Johnson.
The Johnsons may have the widest smiles at the start of the game tonight, but by the end of it, MacPhail -- wherever he resides these days -- may outsmile the Johnsons, for he made the trade that just keeps on giving to the Orioles.
Posted Aug. 8, 2012