So I have been saying for a while now that this team is NOT the giant pile of stink that they have been for most of the last 10 years, that Andy MacPhail does in fact know what he is doing, and that even having to play almost 25% of our games against two of the monsters of the sport (Yankees and Red Sox) this team is going to flirt with .500 and be in line for a playoff spot next year. And every time I talk to my friends about these things, they have that same Eeyore look as they think back on the the “5 Years Past Their Primes” signings of Andy VanSlyke and Joe Carter (as well as the “Never Had A Prime” signings of Adam Eaton et al) as they gird themselves for another 6+ months of futility, making side bets on which Oriole will get the nod as our sympathy All Star this year (current odds have Adam Jones as the prohibitive favorite, with Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts running neck and neck as runners-up).
Well, if my obvious wisdom and humility aren’t good enough for you, maybe Tim Kurkijan’s word will suffice.
To sum up, Kurkijan is reporting from Spring Training, and he is taking a long look at the Orioles. He applauds the club’s trade for Kevin Millwood (who, as I said previously, has an excellent chance to be to the Young Guns of Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, and Troy Patton what Rick Sutcliffe was to Mike Mussina, Ben McDonald, Alan Mills, and Arthur Rhodes in the early ’90s), and their signings of closer Mike Gonzalez to help solidify the bullpen (and move Jim Johnson to his more naturally suited role of 8th inning bridge man), and 3rd baseman Miguel Tejada, and 1st baseman Garrett Atkins as players that will do a capable job while allowing younger players like Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder are ready to come up and do the job.
He also lauds the team for the trading for / developing young players like Jones, Markakis, Nolan Reimold, and Matt Wieters, giving them a solid core of young talent on both sides of the ball and giving the fans a reason to keep those tickets that have been going to travelling / displaced New Yorkers and Bostonians.
I think the most telling aspect is the quote that Kurkijan chooses to end the article with, a quote from manager Dave Trembley…
“We’re going in the right direction,” Trembley said. “We have depth now in the minor leagues, also. We didn’t sign a bunch of six-year free agents this winter. The guys we have are ours, we developed them. Tejada said it best. He said we’re not running our player developmental department in the big leagues anymore. Now it’s about the team. It’s about winning.”
No one is reasonably expecting this team to pull a 1990-1991 Minnesota Twins like turnaround (although I can’t think of anyone who would complain if it happened). But it is reasonable to expect for this team to be respectable, to be in the games and be relevant as the season rolls on.
About the Author
Written by Ron Burr
Ron is a lifelong resident of Maryland and has been a passionate player and fan of sports for as long as he can remember. When he is not watching the games or explaining to his lovely wife why he is cursing at the television, he runs an improv/sketch comedy troupe, Drop Three. He can't hit a curveball or run a sub 4.5 40 yard dash, but he knows the games and loves talking about it with anyone. Differing opinions are welcome and encouraged!