I was pondering the current situation of (as always) overpaid, underproductive veterans on the Orioles, and it got me to thinking...
How much worse would this team REALLY be next year if it was mostly stripped for a young(er)/cheaper model that mixed our talent core with prospects?
(I emphasize mostly because there are a few guys that we should obviously keep, and add an (er) to "young" because it wouldn't be a super-young team.)
Here's what that team might look like (starters in bold, current minor leaguers in bold-italics):
C: Eli Whiteside, Geronimo Gil
1B: Alejandro Freire
2B: Brian Roberts, Chris Gomez
3B: Melvin Mora (because we don't have anyone in the system to replace him)
SS: Miguel Tejada (OK, so the infield is looking pretty damn similar)
OF: Luis Matos
OF: Nick Markakis
OF: Val Majewski, David Newhan, Midre Cummings (or some other old fill-in guy -- who cares?)
DH: Jay Gibbons
SP: Erik Bedard
SP: Rodrigo Lopez
SP: Bruce Chen
SP: Daniel Cabrera
SP: Hayden Penn
RP: Aaron Rakers
RP: Todd Williams
RP: Tim Byrdak
RP: John Parrish
RP: John Maine
RP: Chris Ray
RP: B.J. Ryan
Look at that lineup. Who does that replace in our starting lineup?
Javy Lopez replaced by Eli Whiteside (big drop)
Rafael Palmeiro replaced by Alejandro Freire (virtual wash)
Eric Brynes replaced by Nick Markakis (possible improvement)
Sammy Sosa replaced by Val Majewski (how much worse than Sosa can anyone possibly be?)
In the rotation?
Sidney Ponson replaced by Hayden Penn (see Sosa comment)
In the bullpen?
Steve Kline replaced by John Parrish (wash)
Jorge Julio replaced by Aaron Rakers (probable improvement)
James Baldwin replaced by John Maine (Baldwin never plays anyway, so who cares?)
So the question: Is that team really THAT much worse than 8 games under .500? I haven't done the calculations on what kind of payroll that would be, but it's gotta be at least $15 million cheaper than the current payroll with Javy, Sosa, Palmeiro and Kline.