Being in Las Vegas for work the past two weeks was probably a plus for my health, given the recent news that the Orioles are now fielding calls for Manny Machado, among other things.
Not many folks can walk away from Vegas considerably favoring their wellness, but had I been able to properly follow the trending Orioles updates in real time, I’d probably have more than just a head cold.
The possibility of Manny Machado playing elsewhere isn’t outrageous. Nor is the idea of seeking out potential franchise-changing pitching talent. I get it, and I think a lot of folks get it. But the manner in which this process has played out, and the entire approach to this particular winter, has been nothing short of a masterclass in ineptitude.
Entering the winter, Executive Vice President Dan Duquette, as he always does, assured the masses that starting pitching would be the focus of his offseason activity. After the merciful exits of Chris Tillman, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez, the obvious was obvious. Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy are a solid pair to work with, and given the mediocrity—to put it nicely—of Orioles starting pitching the past five or so years, a tremendous upgrade wouldn’t be needed to supplement an offense that is still, for the most part, rather dangerous.
Tyler Chatwood signed a very reasonable 3-year, $38 million deal with the Cubs. A revitalized Doug Fister opted to sign with the Rangers for one year for $4 million. Thus far, as the Orioles continue to twiddle their thumbs and hope someone calls them, the club has been turned down by Mike Fiers, who took one less year of guaranteed money with the Tigers rather than pitch in the AL East for two years. Even Brad Brach’s name came up in talks with the Mets in regards to Matt Harvey.
All of this is fine. It’s whatever. Chatwood got paid for his talent and a chance to pitch outside of Coors Field. Fister is a withering commodity that may or may not actually be good again. Fiers, despite being a consumer of innings, is one I’m OK with getting away.
But when asked about the relief pitching market, Duquette was reportedly “shocked” to learn that teams are willing to pay extra for good pitchers. I don’t know if you know this, but some teams do in fact break the padlock off their wallets for good starting pitching, too.
Alex Cobb isn’t happening. Lance Lynn isn’t happening. Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish definitely ain’t happening. But apparently, signing Michael Kelly, a 25-year-old who has yet to effectively pitch past Double-A, to a major league deal, did happen.
The Chatwoods, Fisters and Fiers’ of the world are the kinds of deals the Orioles would have had to make to push their playoff-seeking agenda. Hell, even swapping a year of Matt Harvey for a year of Brach is a risk that can be argued. Instead, the Orioles are reportedly calling the Pirates about Gerrit Cole and have inquired with the Royals in regards to Danny Duffy. Sorry kids, those ain’t happening.
Now, the dumpster diving must again proceed. You only find a Miguel Gonzalez once, and as other teams have already scooped up bounce-back candidates like Tom Koehler, Michael Pineda and Miles Mikolas, options are dwindling. Personally, I would rather not see a washed up Chris Tillman back in the fold, but what else is left? For a club with solid controllable players they need not only now, but down the road, what can you do other than what they’ve always done?
Of course, the stinginess wouldn’t be an issue had the Orioles not publicly stated time and time again that the 2018 roster is currently being assembled with the intent to win a number of baseball games conducive for a postseason appearance.
That which, makes the Manny Machado ordeal all the more ridiculous.
Machado and playoff baseball are mutually exclusive for the Orioles. One does not exist without the other. The Orioles are too bland in their roster to be anything more than average without Machado, who, despite being a middle-of-the-road offensive threat in 2017, is still among the top ten players in baseball in terms of shear talent.
So, how do the Orioles approach what is slowly turning into a situation without repair? It really depends on your worldview. Reports have concluded that we’ll likely have an answer to this whole thing by the end of the week, and hopefully, the sooner the better.
The Orioles could trade Machado for their asking price of budding, governable starting pitching, the unlikeliest of scenarios. They could swap Machado for the best offer on the table, though who knows if such is even worth the early departure of a 30-home run, Gold Glove defender. Or, the O’s could simply hold on to Machado, appease the franchise player by playing him at his natural position, and actually try to put the best product on the field one last time.
No matter the case, there is no resolution to the open confusion of the Orioles’ front office. Even if Duquette is able to wrangle a convincing trade, it’s clear that this process was never broached with much thought. It’s not as if Machado’s massive value and his impending departure weren’t set in stone. This is all new to the Orioles, and it’s becoming unfortunately clear the front office has no composition to compass such a franchise-altering direction.
It’s unfortunate. It truly is. I’m among those who can look at 2017 and see it’s faults, but also see that the Orioles’ weirdness may work again next season with the aid of one or two productive starting pitchers. There isn’t much that needs to be changed just yet. But given the ranging spotlight that the Machado back-and-forth has brought upon us, the omnipresent promises of “upgrades” makes you wonder why the hell we even bother, and if Duquette’s notebook of cliches has run out of pages.
It’s nice to know we’re not the only ones noticing it too.
Let’s not jump to conclusions there hoss. Well on your first sentence. The rest you can run with ahhaha— 10 (@SimplyAJ10) December 19, 2017
Adam Jones got onto Twitter last night to basically pan-roast the entire Orioles regime and say there’s no such thing as an Oriole lifer in today’s world. Reading through his series of replies to fans was not only eye-opening, but refreshing.
Jonesy isn’t going to sugarcoat anything, and he’s a man whose words speak as loud as his actions. He’s essentially been the Orioles ambassador to ownership since his informal promotion as the team’s clubhouse general, and to see him say what he did is free evidence to fans that Angelos has not earned his respect. Neither as a player, or as someone who simply wants to win.
When the Orioles refuse to take part in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes or any meaningful international endeavor, I’ve been pressed to brush it off. When the Orioles use the Rule-5 Draft as key strategy, it’s never hurt my feelings. But the calamity a potential Machado trade has caused, and the reverse thinking this winter has displayed has finally hulked me green.
At some point, this fortune was to end. I wasn’t ready for it now.
I wasn’t ready for this.