Public comments from Orioles owner Peter Angelos about the state of the franchise are rare. Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck found one way to lure out Angelos on Thursday afternoon:
Schmuck Stops Here: Ownership fingerprints are all over the Orioles' trade of Jim Johnson http://t.co/BVA3ABHgw4
— Peter Schmuck (@SchmuckStop) December 5, 2013
Within 45 minutes of the article being posted, there was an update on the Baltimore Sun's website, with the headline now reading, "Peter Angelos denies that his fingerprints were all over the Orioles' trade of Jim Johnson."
On its face, the claim of Angelos meddling is somewhat ridiculous. What evidence have we seen that Angelos has intervened on particular players recently? It's likely that Angelos set a budget - that you or I may not like - and that Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette has to make decisions to field a competitive team within that budget.
I just can't see Angelos coming to Duquette and saying to trade Johnson because he'll make too much money. If anything, occurrences of Angelos meddling have tended to involve not trading specific favorite players, such as when a trade of Brian Roberts to the Braves was rumored to have been rejected by Angelos back in 2006.
That kind of behavior may persist. It's not a hard stretch to imagine next offseason, Angelos will step in and make sure the Orioles keep Nick Markakis, for instance. Based on Markakis' performance in 2013, that would be to the detriment of the franchise of it occurred. This is a far cry from demanding certain players be traded.
In the updated Schmuck column, he indicated having a telephone interview with Angelos. One highlight of the interview, relayed in the new version of the column:
"That decision is up to the manager and general manager," Angelos said. "Do we talk about economic decisions? Overall, yes, but not specifically about individual moves. Fundamentally, those decisions are their decisions."
This is as it should be. Fans may not always like the decisions that are made. Fans may not like the budget constraints the team appears to be operating under. However, there's no reason to believe Angelos stepped in and told Duquette to trade Johnson.
On the subject of the budget, Angelos told Schmuck, "There are limitations. This is not New York City. We are not the New York Yankees. We certainly would like to be in that discussion. We've got loyal fans and we're doing our best to put together the best possible team in a limited market."
For Duquette, the best way to do that was not to pay Johnson the $11 million he's projected to make in arbitration. Whether that proves to be a good decision remains to be seen. That judgment will hinge heavily on what subsequent moves the O's might make this offseason. What has happened so far has been uninspiring. Money doesn't buy what it used to, even with an increase of 600,000 fans over two seasons and record MASN ratings.
Are you concerned about the level of Angelos' direct involvement with the Orioles?
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