Monday, January 11, 2010

Base Hits: A Dose of Offseason Hope, Aubrey Finds a Job and More Spring Training

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes about a possible rosy future for the Baltimore Orioles and the rebuilding philosophy of Andy MacPhail.

“The game has morphed,” MacPhail said. “The teams in our division have morphed. You’ve got teams with incredible revenue and payrolls, and we just can’t support what they do. So we have to be better at what we do.”

Which is, in MacPhail’s two-plus years with the Orioles, identifying and stockpiling young, cheap talent. The amount of potential on Baltimore’s 40-man roster is frightening, even to the Yankees and Red Sox...

More from MacPhail, regarding the signing of RP Mike Gonzalez:

“I’ve never believed a closer is a luxury,” MacPhail said. “I know that’s the conventional wisdom among a lot of people, but those aren’t people who have to watch your team play 162 times. You need to win the games you’re supposed to win for the sake of your players, your fans, your franchise.

“It’s important for morale. There’s nothing more debilitating for your players than looking around in the seventh inning and wondering how you’re going to blow this game.”

I don't buy this reasoning. If MacPhail believed in a "proven" closer, why did he wait two years before signing one? I think he believes that a free agent closer is a luxury the Orioles can afford in 2011 and that Gonzalez will be well worth his salary as the Orioles try to field a winner in two years.


Speaking of optimism, the guys on the Baseball America podcast love the Oriole prospects. They don't rank them above the Rays farm system but are concerned about Tampa's lack of fan support, even in 2008 when they went to the World Series, and the impact going forward on keeping that young talent.

The Orioles, however, will not have that issue if they start winning. They will have the money to keep their young talent. They like Brandon Snyder much more than most (or I) do and think if Josh Bell proves to be good major league hitter that the lineup will be stacked. They envision Snyder hitting no higher than 7th in the lineup anyway....the rest of the hitters will be that good.

They also think that Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz are impact pitchers and love their pitching depth in the minors to fill out the rest of the rotation.

They don't see the O's winning before 2011 but they think from '11 forward, they will be a team to be reckoned with. Good source for offseason hope.


Renovations on Ed Smith Stadium, the new Spring Training home, are on hold thanks to a lawsuit filed by a local citizens group.

As I stated before, this stadium is already in better shape than the facility in Ft. Lauderdale so it's still an improvement in the short term. Time will tell if the facility will be renovated to become of of the best in the minor leagues as promised.


Former Oriole 1B/DH Aubrey Huff has found a home for 2010 with the San Francisco Giants.

That's a mildly interesting story but the repercussions for future Oriole first basemen are even more interesting. Says Craig Calcaterra from's Circling the Bases:

One followup thought to Bob's post on the Huff signing: How dumb does Adam LaRoche feel right now for turning down a two-year, $17 million from the Giants to be their first baseman?

At this point I'm seeing a one-year, $6 million deal in Baltimore in his future. Maybe an option if he's lucky.

I said I was not crazy about the options left at first base and that the Orioles should stand pat at this point and let Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder play their way into the Baltimore lineup this season.

But if LaRoche has to take a one-year deal for $6 million...I think I would be OK with that. It would add cheap production, depth and insurance.

I would still prefer to leave things as they are right now but I wouldn't hate that deal.


Daniel Moroz breaks down how much Jim Palmer (and by extension, all the pitchers of the late 60's and 70's teams) were helped by the fantastic assortment of defenders who played behind them.

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