A lot has happened recently but we have been unable to post about all of it due to uncontrollable laughter after reading Derek Jeter’s contract demands. I seriously hope the Yankees let him test the market so he can see how much of an “insult” their original offer is.
As expected, the Orioles decided not to offer arbitration to Kevin Millwood. Millwood would have been likely to receive a salary much higher than the Orioles would have wanted to pay him and there was a very good chance he would have accepted the offer. They also decided against offering arbitration to Koji Uehara who had a much better case for it. Koji made 5 million dollars last season and while he pitched well when healthy, he was hurt for a good chunk of the year again and was converted from a starter to a reliever. He would have been unlikely to receive much of a raise if any. If he would have declined the offer and signed with another team the Orioles would have received a compensation pick in the upcoming draft, which is said to be the deepest draft in recent memory. I was originally furious about this decision but since it has occurred many media outlets have reported that it is well known that Koji would have accepted arbitration and the Orioles believe they will re-sign him anyway but to a smaller number than he would have been rewarded. If this occurs then the decision doesn’t look so bad, however if he does sign with another club I will switch back into “Beast Mode”.
This part still doesn’t look awesome though as the Orioles have failed year after year to acquire talent by manipulating the compensation system. The Orioles almost never offer arbitration to qualifying free agents, they don’t acquire qualifying players on expiring contracts (see Lopez, Felipe or Olivo, Miguel), and they frequently trade away players with expiring contracts who qualify for nothing (see Tejada, Miguel or Huff, Aubrey). If the Orioles want to compete while operating as a middle market team in the AL East they will need to start using draft compensation to their advantage. This goes along with “building from within”, which we are constantly reminded is what we are attempting to do. However, we don’t spend a lot of resources in the draft, we don’t attempt to gather more draft picks, and we don’t spend much in international amateur talent. I still don’t know what their plan really is.
The Orioles hired Willie Randolph to round out their coaching staff recently, so they no longer have that as an excuse for inactivity. I really can’t believe they haven’t re-signed Cesar Izturis yet, it’s amazing. Perhaps they are waiting to make the fans believe they actually looked around for other options? It’s coming everyone, don’t you worry.
The Orioles have been loosely linked to several free agents recently but their real interest level is being masked well and rumors have been few and far between. They were apparently very much in on Victor Martinez, who signed with the Tigers recently. The Orioles offer was reportedly 4 years and 48 million dollars. Thank you Detroit for saving us from ourselves this time. That contract would have been horrendous for the O’s. After the signing, Andy MacPhail indicated that Martinez was their top target this offseason. While I respect that they were able to identify a target and put an aggressive offer on the table, this would have been a terrible signing for the Orioles. Yes, Victor Martinez is a great hitter….for a catcher. The Orioles would have used Martinez primarily at first base and occasionally at catcher and DH. The league average OPS for first baseman in MLB last year was .802. Victor Martinez holds a career OPS mark of .838, this is not a masher we are talking about here. Victor Martinez would most likely be a slightly above average bat next year at first while providing what appears to be below average defense with it. On top of that, it is unlikely he would even be that good at ages 35 and 36 AND the Orioles would have had to surrender another second round draft pick. Bottom line, breaking the bank for Victor Martinez would have been a bad idea and I’m glad someone with more money to waste stepped up to jump on the grenade for us. Still, even knowing that it would have been a bad signing, it is a little disheartening to see that the Orioles can’t even get the players that they really want.
I just hope everyone will be as excited as me when the O’s sign Cesar Izturis, Ty Wigginton, and Lyle Overbay and then point to how the team played at the end of last year for hope. I’m not falling for that, and I doubt anyone else is either.