Orioles signings show lack of direction

The Orioles are a beaten and beleaguered team these days. They’ve suffered through steroid scandals and disgruntled stars. With eight straight seasons under .500 and just one third place finish among a sea of fourth-place seasons since winning the American League in 1997, the Orioles are a team without much of a plan. No where is that more obvious than in the team’s recent decisions to go with Jeff Conine and Jeromy Burnitz for the 2006 season.

Last week, the Orioles and 39-year-old Conine came to terms on a one year deal. “It looks like he might get more playing time than he bargained for,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said about the Conine. That’s quite a statement about a team struggling to retain any semblance of competitiveness in a division that features the Yankees, Red Sox, and a revamped Blue Jays team.

Conine, for a 39-year-old, isn’t awful. Last season for the Marlins, he hit .304/.374/.403 with just 3 home runs in nearly 400 plate appearances. He created 52 runs last year as a part-time player and shouldn’t be anything more than that. However, the Orioles, according to Perlozzo, seem to have greater plans for him.

As far as I can tell, Conine would probably play first base or maybe the outfield. In either case, his production would be far below league average for the position. In the American League, he would have been dead last among first baseman for home runs and second to Scott Podsednik among left fielders. While I admire his .374 on-base percentage, teams need a little more power out of the first base or left field slot.

Furthermore, with Conine hogging a position in the field, the Orioles would be denying Walter Young or Val Majewski a shot at a job. Young, 25, is being groomed to play first base for the Orioles. He had decent AAA numbers and showed that he could hit Major League pitching albeit in just 33 at-bats this season. Due to an injury, Majewski isn’t as close to the Majors as Young is, but he seems to have a higher ceiling. He’s hit well in the Minors and has shown marked improvement over the last few years.

The Orioles are a team that needs new blood. Why should they waste a starting position with a utility player turning 40 in June? I think the Orioles should use Conine as a bench player. He would be an excellent fourth outfielder/emergency first baseman for the team. But to give him a starting job or award him the DH slot now seems like a waste of an offensive position.

A week after signing Conine, the Orioles inked Jeromy Burnitz to a two-year, $12-million deal. In Burnitz, they are getting a 37-year-old strike out machine who plays sketchy defense. Since turning 30, Burnitz has seen his OBP drop from .402 in 1999 to .322 in 2005. Except for one year playing in Coors, he hasn’t hit above .258. But he has struck out 100 times or more every season since assuming a full-time role in 1997.

So now, the Orioles are stuck with an immobile outfielder who may very well be ready to retire at the end of this contract. Once again, the team is blocking a future outfielder – Majewski – and they are clogging up the offense.

Furthermore, looking at Burnitz’s comparables on Baseball-Reference, I get the sense that the Orioles may not get much production from their latest addition. His highest comparable (a similarity score developed by Bill James) is Jay Buhner who retired at 36. Next is Darryl Strawberry who had just over 40 at bats at age 37, and then Ron Gant who had a decent enough season at 37 but only played 102 games. The Orioles expect Burnitz to play ball at a $6-million-per-year level for two seasons when most players like him don’t last much beyond 36. This doesn’t seem like smart money to me.

The Orioles are in an unenviable position. They have faced on-field and off-field problems. In 2006, they’ll be playing three powerhouses – the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays – 57 times. They’ve seen a decline in attendance and a increase in Camden Yards boos. In fact, with the Yanks or Sox in town, it seems as though more fans are rooting for the visiting team.

While the Orioles have seemingly taken the “throw in the towel” approach toward competing in the American League East, they would do well to imitate the team they could finish below in the standings this year. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have shed payroll and have developed a young core of exceptional players. The Orioles keep pursuing over-paid, over-the-hill guys on the edge of retirement. It just doesn’t work as a plan.

4 Responses to “Orioles signings show lack of direction”


  1. 1 Shawn December 30, 2006 at 12:38 am

    Until the fans stop going to the ballpark this is going to continue. We have an owner who only cares about making a profit, that’s it. It’s a joke! I stopped going years ago, I will not support this type of ownership. For the past 8 or so years we need pitching and all we get is the aged old superstar slugger. I’m tired of it!

  2. 2 john ryan July 15, 2007 at 9:26 am

    i agree with the pitching status in baltimore if this owner isnt going to shit get him off the pot what is up with the stock holders i think mark quibin should buy baltimore. as a side note every pitcher bonds faces from here till his death should walk him hank did it naturally


  1. 1 Most Valuable Network - Statistically Speaking » Benson trade won’t net much for O’s Trackback on January 23, 2006 at 12:10 am
  2. 2 Talking Baseball » Benson trade won’t net much for O’s Trackback on January 23, 2006 at 12:25 am
Comments are currently closed.



RSS River Ave. Blues

  • Sabathia nominated for Roberto Clemente Award, Beltran nominated for Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award September 21, 2014
    CC Sabathia has been selected as the Yankees’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, MLB announced. It is given annually to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Here are the 30 nominees. Derek Jeter won the award in 2009 and Carlos Beltran […]Post from: Ri […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Bad sixth inning sends Yanks to 6-3 loss to Jays September 21, 2014
    Source: FanGraphs The little three-game winning streak was fun while it lasted. A rough sixth inning sent the Yankees to a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon. Let’s recap: Answer Back: Toronto scored a quick run in the first inning but the Yankees rallied to take a 2-1 lead by the fourth. […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees blogBad […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Carlos Beltran unavailable due to nagging elbow discomfort September 20, 2014
    Carlos Beltran was unavailable for today’s game due to continued discomfort in his elbow, Joe Girardi told reporters. I figured he was unavailable as soon as Brendan Ryan was allowed to bat for himself as the tying run in the ninth inning. Girardi said it is “possible” they will shut Beltran down for the remainder […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Ya […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Saturday Night Open Thread September 20, 2014
    Your browser does not support iframes. Here is your open thread for this gorgeous Saturday night. Pretty great weather in New York these last few days. The Mets are playing tonight, MLB Network will air a regional game later on, and there’s a ton of college football on as well. Talk about those games or […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees blogS […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Update: Mark Teixeira leaves game with sore wrist September 20, 2014
    6:16pm: Teixeira left the game with soreness in his right wrist, the Yankees announced. He is being evaluated by team doctor Dr. Ahmad. 5:41pm: Mark Teixeira left this afternoon’s game for an unknown reason in the fifth inning. I assume he’s hurt. Teixeira missed a game with soreness in his surgically repaired right wrist last […]Post from: River Ave. Blues […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Game 154: Go For Four September 20, 2014
    The Yankees have won three straight games and hey, they’re still mathematically alive in the wildcard race. It’s probably a little late to make a run but wins are fun at any point of the season. Keep the winning streak going and see what happens. Hopefully something wild. Here is the Blue Jays lineup and […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees blog […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Best: Sterling and Waldman both likely to return in 2015 September 20, 2014
    Via Neil Best: Both John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman are likely to return to the WFAN radio booth in 2015, which will be their 11th season together. Both are under contract next year but they’re getting up there in age — Sterling is 66 and Waldman is 68 — so they are very much on […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees blogBest: Sterling and Waldman […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Yankees top Blue Jays 5-3 for third straight win September 20, 2014
    Source: FanGraphs For the first time in almost exactly a month, the Yankees have won three straight games. They beat the Blue Jays by the score of 5-3 on Friday night thanks to some timely hits and a bad error by Toronto. Let’s recap the win: #HIROK Solid: In what was likely the second to […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees blogYankees top Blue […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Update: Ellsbury exits with hamstring strain, season may be over September 20, 2014
    10:04pm: Ellsbury has a hamstring strain and is heading for an MRI. Joe Girardi said it is a “distinct possibility” his season is over. Rats. 8:29pm: Jacoby Ellsbury left tonight’s game with an apparent right leg injury. He came up lame and grabbed at his hamstring after running out a potential double play ball in […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Ya […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Game 153: Three Straight? September 19, 2014
    Thanks to last night’s walk-off win, the Yankees have a chance to win their third straight game tonight. That doesn’t sound like anything special, but the Yankees haven’t won three straight games in nearly a month now. The last time they won three straight was actually the five-game winning streak from August 21st through August […]Post from: River Ave. Blue […]
    Michael Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 60,425 hits

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: