Free Agency Begins

With free agents now being able to sign, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the polar opposite of what I’ve hoped for in years past. Last season, I was beating the drum for the O’s to sign Carlos Lee. Supposedly, the sides talked alot but in the end we were merely a bargaining chips for Lee to get more money from the team he wanted to go all along, the Astros.

I don’t want the O’s to sign any top name free agents. The crop this year is lean anyway, but would any one player turn this team around? The team was 69-93 this season. Would signing one of A-Rod, Andruw Jones, or Tori Hunter make this a winning team? This is a team with plenty of holes that one or two signings won’t fix. Besides, the last thing this team needs is more players over the age of 30. I’m hoping the MacPhail regime strikes with trading aging vets for youth. I’d rather have a few more years of losing with a young team with the prospect that in two or three years that this team could be good rather than merely signing more peak or past their prime vets that would at best be a medicore team. A-Rod is a great player and I’d love to have someone like him playing for us, but this team needs multiple A-Rods, not just one, to have a chance at winning. Signing him would merely be a mighty expensive PR move that mortgages the future spending of the team.  If the O’s were a team, like say Cleveland, that was maybe a player short, then I say go for it. We’re more than A player short.

From the O’s site

One place of interest this winter will be center field, where Patterson departs after two seasons as the starter. Former All-Stars Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones headline the list of free agents, and Aaron Rowand should also get a lucrative contract. Meanwhile, the Orioles will likely seek to fill center field through a trade for a younger player.

Great news! Makes sense and the opposite what the team usually does.

Baltimore will be active again in the hunt for relief pitchers, but there should be a much different strategy employed this year. The Orioles spent more than $40 million on three relievers last winter but still wound up with the highest relief ERA in franchise history. Now, the plan is to bring in several low-cost arms and assemble a bullpen from spare parts.

Terrific! Why waste money on a bullpen when relievers are the signings that usually pan out the least? Last season, Walker was a great signing. Bradford was ok, but shaky at times. Baez was a bust. Williamson…didn’t pan out…didn’t get healthy…or didn’t get a chance. Take your pick. On the same topic, Tom Verducci has a great article about the building of a bullpen the right way.

The Orioles are a team that has invested heavily in free agency in recent years, with lucrative contracts doled out to Miguel Tejada, Ramon Hernandez, Javy Lopez, Aubrey Huff and others in an effort to break out of fourth place. This year is likely to be about restraint and building patiently through younger players and the farm system, a plan that rarely inspires sexy headlines.

To need Band-Aids is temporary — I’m not looking to do that,” said Trembley of an attempt to stock the roster with veteran stopgaps. “I think probably that’s one of the things that’s been done around here, and that doesn’t get it done. We’re looking to add quality, not quantity, and it’s going to have to start with [starting] pitching and the bullpen.”

Trembley sure knows how to say the right things doesn’t he? I hope this is the plan and they stick to it. Of course, we are going to have to find a closer, but we’ll see how that turns out. I’m optimistic about this offseason. I’m optimistic that it won’t be one of the usual teases we usually have. Talk of the team being in talks with a big name only to come up short and sign an Aubrey Huff type.

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One Response

  1. Ben, it does not look like much will happen in free agency, unless someone comes along as a bargain.

    I like the O’s approach — they need to build up their team at ML level and lower portions before they sign free agents (which I think should always be complimentary pieces).

    It may be painful, but I’d be more open to see them do business the way the Twins, or A’s do it than business as usual for the past decade or more.

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