Nov 19, 2010, 05:23AM

The Baltimore Orioles In Need of Some Aggressive Action From the Front Office

Unless we fix some major line-up problems, the home team's on track for another terrible season.

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The Baltimore Orioles enter the 2010 MLB off-season in the same position as last year, with glaring holes at first, third, short and the rotation. Early indications are that the O’s are interested in just about every available first baseman, from Paul Konerko to Adam LaRoche.  After the team's drastic turnaround under the tutelage of Buck Showalter the time has come for action from general manager Andy MacPhail.  

The roster moves that MacPhail made last winter were a dismal failure. A similar performance this year will waste any good will and fan interest that was garnered by Showalter's arrival. MacPhail typically acts in a painfully deliberate matter, preferring to let the market settle rather than act aggressively. The time has come to move fast. I think the O's should make a serious run at Konerko. The soon-to-be 35-year-old is coming off a huge year (39 Hrs, 111 RBI, .977 OPS) for the Chicago White Sox. He would provide immediate middle of the order protection for the Orioles’ young hitters. Baltimore made an attempt to sign Konerko during the winter of 2005 before he ultimately remained with Chicago. The result may not be any different this time around, but MacPhail would give the Orioles a fighting chance by being proactive and luring Konerko while the White Sox are off wooing Adam Dunn.

If Konerko spurns the O's again they should turn their attention to Derrek Lee or LaRoche. I'd prefer Victor Martinez or Dunn to either Lee or LaRoche, but Martinez seems intent on catching and Dunn reportedly prefers to stay in the NL. Lee had a down year in 2010 and is a few months older than Konerko, but he still has a potent bat, is an excellent defender, and regarded as a clubhouse leader. LaRoche would be my last resort. Carlos Pena and his .196 batting average need not apply.

Across the diamond the Orioles have a hole at third. They could retain incumbent Ty Wigginton, who started 2010 strong only to slump badly in the second half. I'd prefer a younger option at third and would focus attention on free agent Jorge Cantu or non-tender candidate Kevin Kouzmanoff. Cantu slumped badly after being dealt to the Rangers last summer, but he's just 28 and was very productive in 2008 and 2009. World Series hero Juan Uribe could be an option at either third or shortstop, where his power would provide a major jolt to the O's moribund offense.

I'd love to see the Orioles add Konerko, Cantu and Uribe to fill the holes in the lineup and then bring in a pitcher looking for a one-year deal like Chris Young or Jeff Francis to buy some time for young hurler Zach Britton. Twelve years of losing leads me to believe that none of that will happen and ultimately Wigginton and offensive blackhole Cesar Izturis return for another season. MacPhail has options and money; the time has come to stop making excuses and start taking decisive actions to improve the ballclub. By no means do I think that Konerko, Cantu, and Uribe make the O's a serious 2011 contender, but their addition would stoke fan interest, and possibly result in the team relinquishing its status of laughing stock of the A.L. East.

  • I really don't think you're thinking big enough. Paul Konerko? Seriously? Sinking money and years into an over the hill first basemen who most likely just had his last hurrah is not a smart move. Maybe he'll repeat his 2010 numbers, or maybe he'll only regress a little, but that's unlikely. He was a great player, but advanced metrics suggest he did get pretty lucky this year. Better him then Jorge Cantu or Derek Lee I guess. All those guys are for the most part either washed up or mediocre. Victor Martinez wouldn't be a horrible addition. He's more proven, versatile, and he can mentor Wieters, which is much needed. Young and Francis present to much injury risk. Odds are you'd be paying them to rehab and sit on the bench. What about Tsuyoshi Nishioka? I find him intriguing. He could potentially do for the O's what Akinori Iwamura did for the Rays in '08. Honestly though, if I were MacPhail I'd consider trading Nick Markakis. He's highly overrated and getting expensive. If they got a good return I'd imagine they'd competing for the Wild Card at least in 2013. By then Manny Machado will being popping up and Matusz and Britton will be more established. For now though, I think they should pursue Jon Garland. He's may be pricier than Francis and Young, but he's practically guarantees a 4 ERA and 200 innings. That's what the O's need right now, and innings eater.

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  • Ruffy, In a perfect world I'd say go sign Cliff Lee, Adam Dunn and Werth. That's not happening. Remember this team's big splashes last Winter were Garrett Atkins and Mike Gonzalez. Machado may be a nice player, but he's 18. We've been waiting for the next big prospect for over a decade. The young pitchers are in the Bigs, time to add some bats. They may end up going a year too long on Konerko, but it's not my money and they sure have plenty of it to spend.

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  • But why settle for mediocrity? What's the point in ending up in third place if you're never going to finish first? Signing Konerko and Francis/Young would be low-upside moves that have a strong chance of backfiring. Even if Paulie does put up decent numbers, .280 AVG with 25 HRs, what would that realistically do for the team? Help them fight there through 5th place? If anything, the Orioles should be shopping for upside over certainty when it comes to position players. You casually brushed off Carlos Pena without even considering his circumstances. Right now he's coming off a terrible year and he still hit 28 home runs. He'll be looking to restore his value considerably on a cheap 1 year contract. Potentially, he could put up a .250 AVG with 40+ round trippers, but, if the O's lose the gamble, I'm sure they'd gladly take 25 bombs and gold glove defense as a consolation prize. Either way, it's a good bet to make. Unless they take risks, the free agent market will not provide a good hitter for Baltimore.

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  • Are you kidding? Mediocrity would be a Godsend. This team has been under .500 for 12 years! I'm done with reclamation projects. They tried to sell us a bill of goods last year with Atkins. I'm not buying it again. Time to spend some of that MASN money they've been stockpiling. BTW, I'd take Garland in a heartbeat but my guess is he stays in the NL and gets a multi-year deal from someone.

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  • You're right: mediocrity, meaning .500, would be a major step forward. I'm not as pessimistic as you about MacPhail. Remember, now that Showalter has shown, in a limited sample size, what a good manager can do, now it's MacPahil's turn and it's likely the Angelos family will open the wallet. The O's will have to overpay for free agents, a premium because of their past 12 years, but so be it. I think Cantu's a dressed-up Atkins, however. Uribe, sure. But why not blow away the competition and get Victor Martinez or Jayson Werth? Yes, it'll be 20% more than a contending team, but the revenue stream from increased attendance would make up for that.

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