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There might not be crying in baseball, but there sure is a lot of whining sometimes

Posted By Ron Burr On Aug 2 2009 @ 7:58 pm In Baltimore Orioles | No Comments

It must be a contract year…

It's weird.  Melvin Mora was held up in this town as that player that teams need.  He is the only player who attended Elrod Hendricks' funeral.  He was visible and active in the community, and he was always a team first kind of guy.

And then he had a bad year at the plate in the last year of his contract…

I was perusing the Baltimore Sun this morning when I came across the headline that Mora feels disrespected by Orioles manager Dave Trembley, and that he doesn't deserve it.  Well, let's just see about that…

Orioles fans will remember a few years ago when Miguel Tejada, who decided to allow himself to be grossly overpaid in order to come to Baltimore (and said all the right things about making this team into a winner), got tired of losing and started sulking and whining and demanding a trade, saying the team didn't respect him (among other bull@#$% reasons that changed almost daily).  And you might also remember that Melvin Mora called him during FanFest and got him talking to the team again and got him to come back so that he could have another decent to good year, then be used by MacPhail as trade bait to get this team better.  Now, in a stunning bout of “anything you can do I can do better”, Mora is now whining that Trembley doesn't respect him and all that he has done for the team and that he cannot wait to go somewhere else next year and play for a contender.  The guy that the fans CLAMORED for the team to re-sign because of what he meant to the team above and beyond wins and losses says that he doesn't want to plan another October vacation and that he is a competitor.  He played through pain last year, and got 3 (!) cortisone shots last year so he could put off surgery and help this team in the 2nd half of the season.  And I quote from the Baltimore Sun article…

“I don't appreciate the disrespect, because I've been playing hurt for a guy who won't respect you. I don't deserve it. Whatever he wants to do there, he can do it. But like I told you before, I need to have my respect. This is not a guy who just came to the Orioles. This is a guy who's been here for nine years busting his butt for the organization.”

Just so you know, “this guy” is Mora himself, who apparently decided to channel his inner Rickey Henderson, only with less ostentatious verbiage.

Now, he has been on the bench 3 of the last 4 games, but maybe there is a reason that has less to do with actively disrespecting someone and more with trying to win a game.  Mora is batting .256, with 3 HRs and 27 RBIs.  He has hit 1 home run in what is now 5 days shy of 3 months (or since May 7th if you don't feel like doing a word problem right now).  And Dave Trembley, to his credit, has not stooped to Mora's level of whining to the press or airing his dirty laundry in public.  And I quote…

“He's played a long time and been a very good player, but most of the times, day games after night games, Melvin has not played. It's like I said, we'll do our very best to get guys in there, rotated around somewhat, and try to keep everybody sharp.

“I'm trying to help people. I'm not trying to hurt anybody. If I give a guy a day off-guys who are up there in age, they've played a long time, guys who are struggling-I'm trying to help them…It's easy to look at things from the negative. You've got to be a team guy here…It's not about one guy on this team and everybody knows that. We need to stay away from that and we will stay away from that.”

I believe the term you are looking for is “Oh, SNAP!”

And now let's look at what is really happening.  Mora has an $8 million club option for next year, so he has basically been playing for a job this year (especially after the off season deal with the Phillies fell through, since they probably would have had to extend his contract in order to get him to waive his no trade clause), and he has not played well.  He has been pretty good defensively, but he has been horrendous at the plate, and 3rd base is one of those positions that a team needs offensive production from.  Ty Wigginton is a decent enough 3rd baseman defensively, while not a David Wright or Evan Longoria, he is certainly not a huge drop off from Mora.  Mora has had 285 at bats in order to generate his offensive stats, Wigginton has had 247.  To me, that is close enough to make a comparison (keep in mind that Wigginton has played multiple positions while Mora has been all but exclusively 3rd base, with a possible at bat or 2 as DH).  You've seen Mora's numbers, here are Wigginton's… .263, 8 HR, 29 RBI.  Overall, its pretty much a wash, with a slight edge to Wigginton since he has a little more power with 40 fewer ABs.  Wigginton is under contract next year at $2.5 million, so advantage Wigginton (as far as the team is concerned).  

But here is what I think is the real reason Mora suddenly wants to be vocal.  Until last week, he still thought he was going to be brought back.  Then the team made the Sherrill trade, and the real centerpiece of the return on the trade is Bell, the 22 year old 3rd base prospect.  Suddenly, between Wigginton and Bell, Mora is all kinds of expendable (you might recall my theory that next year Wigginton starts the season at 3rd and Bell is up sometime around midseason from an earlier post).  Mora even said it himself when he said this at the end of the interview that the Sun used as the basis of its article…”I know here they're rebuilding and they bring a lot of young guys here, good players and I know it is time for me to move on. It's time for me to move on” (yes, he said it twice).  Mora sees the writing on the wall, but in order to (hopefully) make himself look better to the rest of the league next year, he plays it off like the reason he isn't playing well is because Trembley doesn't respect him, and without respect he cannot perform (I hear they make pills for that kind of performance issue.  Maybe he can talk to Rafael Palmeiro about that one).  Personally, I think it is going to backfire if he keeps it going, and that once the teams can expand the roster on September 1st, he might just get the axe.  The team dropped Jay Gibbons and ate his tens of millions in salary, so swallowing the last month of Mora's contract in order to keep him from negatively affecting the youngsters as they come up should be no problem at all.  But I don't think it will get to that.  Mora has done this ticky tacky crap before, just usually more behind the scenes.  Once he gets his undergarments untwisted he will play the good soldier for the remainder of the season.  I hope.  For his sake.  Either way, you can officially start the Mora Countdown at 58 games after today and counting.

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