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

  • Yanks use homers, bullpen to beat Blue Jays 6-4 July 26, 2014
    Make it 17 straight wins over the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees came back from a three-zip deficit on Friday night to win their fourth straight game and seventh in eight games since the All-Star break. I wouldn’t say they’re playing their best baseball of the season, but they’re definitely getting the results […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New Y […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Game 102: Make it 17 July 25, 2014
    The Yankees and Blue Jays are virtually tied in the standings. They’re both competing for the AL East title and the second wildcard spot (the Angels have run away with the top spot already), so these head-to-head matchups are incredibly important. The Yankees have won 16 straight over the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium dating […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A Ne […]
    Michael Axisa
  • TiqIQ: Season tickets for New York City Football Club at Yankee Stadium now available July 25, 2014
    From our friends at TiqIQ: As the level of popularity in Major League Soccer grows, two more teams will be added to the league beginning in 2015. Next season there will be newteams in Orlando and New York City with the Orlando Football Club and New York City Football Club becoming the 20th and 21st […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees blogTiqIQ: […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Chris Capuano added to roster, will start tomorrow July 25, 2014
    The Yankees have added Chris Capuano to the active roster and designated Chris Leroux for the assignment, the team announced. Capuano, who acquired in a minor trade with the Rockies yesterday, will start tomorrow’s game. Shane Greene has been pushed back to Sunday and Chase Whitley is in the bullpen. The Yankees are still carrying […]Post from: River Ave. Bl […]
    Michael Axisa
  • 7/25-7/27 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays July 25, 2014
    Your browser does not support iframes. So this is kind of a big series. The Yankees and Blue Jays are essentially tied in the standings and chasing the same AL East title/second wildcard spot. The Jays have lost 16 (!) consecutive games in Yankee Stadium dating back to 2012. That includes a three-game sweep earlier […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Y […]
    Michael Axisa
  • RAB Live Chat July 25, 2014
    Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees blogRAB Live ChatPost from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees blogRAB Live Chat The post RAB Live Chat appeared first on River Avenue Blues.
    Michael Axisa
  • King: Yankees to scout Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo tomorrow July 25, 2014
    Via George King: The Yankees will be among the teams to watch Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo at his showcase in Miami (at Alex Rodriguez Park!) tomorrow. “He reminds me of (Dayan) Viciedo, not with the power, but with the way he plays and he has very good speed,” said one scout. “He is not (Yasiel) […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees blogKing […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Friday chat reminder July 25, 2014
    This has been a pretty good week for the Yankees. Let’s talk about it this afternoon. See you at 1:30pm ET. Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees blogFriday chat reminderPost from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees blogFriday chat reminder The post Friday chat reminder appeared first on River Avenue Blues.
    Michael Axisa
  • Mailbag: Kemp, Barney, Aiken, Bailey, Lee July 25, 2014
    Got eight questions for you this week. The Submit A Tip box in the sidebar is the best way to send us anything throughout the week, mailbag questions or otherwise. Many asked: What about Matt Kemp? Kemp, who is still only 29, is open to being traded to a team that will put him back […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees blogMailbag: Kemp, Barney, […]
    Michael Axisa
  • Update: Yankees interested in Kennedy, not for Jagielo and Clarkin July 25, 2014
    11:09pm: Jon Heyman to the rescue! He says the Yankees do have interest in Kennedy but not at the cost of Jagielo and Clarkin. Maybe Bowden meant “discussing” as in “that’s who the Padres asked for.” 11:08pm: Via Jim Bowden: The Yankees and Padres are discussing a trade that would bring Ian Kennedy back to […]Post from: River Ave. Blues A New York Yankees bl […]
    Michael Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 60,302 hits

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: