So, could you feel the evident disappointment of Baltimore Orioles fans this winter?
Coming off a 96-win year, the O’s did what seemed like a whole lot of nothing this offseason. As Andrew Miller, Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz all departed for big contracts elsewhere, the only major league players Baltimore added were journeyman lefty reliever Wesley Wright, Padres castoff Everth Cabrera and former first-round bust Travis Snider.
Now compare that haul to the types of players added by Baltimore’s AL East division rivals, names such as (the aforementioned) Miller, Hanley Ramirez,Pablo Sandoval, Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada, Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin. Worse, with O’s GM Dan Duquette spending much of the winter engaged in an awkward — and ultimately fruitless — discussion about taking a job with the Blue Jays, the perception grew that he was more focused on his own career than improving the team.
Whether that’s a fair judgment of Duquette or not, it all added up to a less than impressive winter in Baltimore. Just a month ago, ESPN’s Jayson Stark polled baseball people about the offseason we just completed, and coming in second place for “Most Unimproved American League Team” was none other than those Orioles.
So this was a disaster, right? A big step back for a team on the precipice of making noise in the playoffs, just as the rest of the AL East is dealing with enough holes that this seemed like it may have been the time to strike, right? That’s the narrative, but it’s far too simple. For the Orioles, an appreciation of what was a quietly good winter requires looking a little deeper. Read the rest of this entry »