2011 Organizational Rankings: #15 – Baltimore

Average performances in all four categories leads to the biggest surprise in the rankings thus far. Baltimore certainly should be considered a team on the rise, but is it enough to justify their lofty position here?

Present Talent – 75.00 (T-20th)

Orioles Season Preview

Future Talent – 85.00 (T-5th)

Orioles Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources – 76.67 (17th)
Baseball Operations – 76.82 (T-20th)

Overall Rating – 77.45 (15th)

There are many factors that go into why the Orioles ended up 15th, much higher than anyone (including most of our writers) expected. Before we get into those specific reasons, it is important to note just how bunched up the teams in the middle really are. Baltimore finished with an Overall Rating of 77.45, but the teams that finished in the 15-19 slots were separated by less than a single point. This means that the rankings were extremely tight, and there’s no real difference between the placements of the teams in this grouping. If you wouldn’t have been upset with Baltimore at #19, then treat this accordingly, as a small change in voting could have knocked them down several pegs.

How did they end up in this tier anyway, though? First off, the Orioles didn’t rate terribly in any of the four categories. When you look at the teams directly below the Orioles in the rankings, all of them have at least one category of extreme weakness. The Orioles didn’t rate exceptionally well in any category – it’s comparable to passing all of your classes, but getting straight Cs.

That said, the Orioles look like a team on the rise. Their present talent doesn’t rate well now, but a big reason for that is based on the fact that they recently promoted many of their youngsters who are still adjusting to the major leagues. If Matt Wieters, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta (to name a few) start to reach their potential, the Orioles major league talent could experience a significant jump in the rankings. The farm system, while depleted due to the recent graduates, still has some promising talents – namely Manny Machado and Zach Britton.

Say what you want about Peter Angelos (and trust me, many people have), but he’s shown a willingness to spend money on his team in the past. When the team did contend in the mid-90s, Angelos authorized heavy spending to import key free-agents. The Orioles tried the same approach in 2004, when they signed Miguel Tejada, Rafael Palmeiro and Javy Lopez to lengthy contracts. When Angelos realized that approach didn’t work, the team attempted to focus on building a strong farm system. Now that the young talent is starting to reach the majors, Angelos seems to be willing to spend money again. While the Orioles’ 2010 off-season was relatively quiet, in recent years they have aggressively pursued Mark Teixeira and Paul Konerko; a sign that the team may start spending once they realize the gains of their young stars.

Despite a promising young core, and a willingness to spend cash, the Orioles will struggle to compete in future seasons due to their division. While finishing in last place every season makes the Orioles look like a hopeless franchise, it’s more a statement on the talented teams within their division. If the Orioles were in the NL Central or NL West, for instance, they would be talked about as a potential surprise team by many analysts this season. Unfortunately, they have to compete with three of the best teams in baseball and the Blue Jays (who look dangerous under Alex Anthopoulos). This gives the perception that the Orioles will continue to fail when they would most likely be competitive in other divisions, but divisional strength wasn’t a factor in these ratings.

There isn’t much hope for realignment, however, so the Orioles will have to play the cards their are dealt. As Omar Little might say, it’s “all in the game,” and you shouldn’t feel sorry for the O’s. In any other division, however, the team’s young nucleus would be feared and they would be on a level playing field financially. Angelos might be more willing to spend money in this situation upon realizing that he wouldn’t have to compete with the likes of New York or Boston, and this ranking of the Orioles wouldn’t be viewed as a surprise.

The Orioles should be credited for building a respectable young core and shedding some payroll the past few seasons. Unfortunately, those gains seem unlikely to pay off unless the team can get out of the AL East. They’ll likely finish in last place again, but it’s going to be a respectable last place finish. As an Orioles’ fan, it’s tough not to look at the team’s situation and utter Clay Davis’ most popular phrase, a long, drawn-out “[expletive].”



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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


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Daniel
Guest
Daniel

I don’t see how the Orioles are much higher than the Royals. I’d rather have KCs future than Baltimore’s.

Scott_Hayter
Guest
Scott_Hayter

Money Daniel… plain and simple…

Steve
Guest
Steve

Not me. The Royals will either fail to develop their talent (Gordon, Hochevar), or dump them so they won’t have to pay (Dye, Beltran, Grienke…). Good development might give you a year or two of competing, but good financial resources gives you a chance to be in the game every year. The O’s can support a $90-100 million payroll with MASN.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

Maybe you guys are right, but even at your best I think you’re destined to never finish higher than 3rd in your division. The Royals at least are playing in a division where they’ll have a chance.

descender
Member
descender

The royals would have to undergo a major shift in organizational philosophy to “compete” any more than the Rays have.

Losing for 10 years straight nets you a nice farm system and assuming the pieces develop to major league talent, will allow you to compete.

Problem is that model is unsustainable once you start winning if you do not then increase payroll.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

@descender

I’m frankly rather shocked that someone at FanGraphs would think the Royals have a great system because they’ve “lost for 10 years straight.” That theory doesn’t really hold water once you realize our system was built in less than three years.

JH
Guest
JH

Or that the Rays became competitive only because of their losing.

Losing for 10 years straight didn’t get them Carlos Pena, or Carl Crawford (2nd round pick – almost every team had a shot at him), or James Shields, or Ben Zobrist, or Akinori Iwamura, or Jason Bartlett. In fact, on their first playoff run in ’08, only two top-5 picks played a significant role in getting them to the postseason (with Price logging some memorable relief appearances once they got there).

Otter
Guest
Otter

I agree. Angelos is the owner and he has a 15 year track record of not running a baseball team all that well. I honestly don’t think there is a big difference between the O’s, Nats, Royals and Pirates (and now Marlins)… I’ll take a team like the Indians, with a good front office and ownership that doesn’t seem to mess everything up, over the O’s.

Kyle H
Member
Kyle H

Well fact is Angelos used to run shit. now he just does what his GM tells him to within the bounds of his money. He is much more hands off than he used to be.

shibboleth
Guest
shibboleth

i understand your point but macphail has been given a longer leash of late; i suspect angelos has learned how to be somewhat less hands off.

JayTeam
Guest
JayTeam

A great example of Angelos “hands-on” approach occurred in ’04. Angelos watched a Rule 5 OF flub a fly ball, turned to his GM and told him to “get rid of that guy”. The OF was Jose Bautista.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank

ok but there’s no way anyone in 2004 could seriously have seen what bautista did last year coming

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