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

  • Joe Girardi’s End-of-Season Press Conference: Ellsbury, Gardner, Rotation, Refsnyder, More October 9, 2015
    Your browser does not support iframes.Your browser does not support iframes.Earlier this morning at Yankee Stadium, Joe Girardi held his annual end-of-season State of the Yankees press conference. There was no major news announced — no coaches were fired, no players are having offseason surgery, nothing like that — which is a good thing, I […] The post Joe G […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Friday Open Thread October 9, 2015
    Your browser does not support iframes.Like yesterday, I’m going to post today’s open thread a little earlier than usual because the postseason games start nice and early. Here is today’s schedule: Rangers at Blue Jays (Hamels vs. Stroman): 12:30pm ET on MLB Network and MLB.tv Astros at Royals (Kazmir vs. Cueto): 3:30pm ET on FOX […] The post Friday Open Thre […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Mailbag: Kinsler, Yamada, Angels, Pineda, Wildcard, Drew October 9, 2015
    Got ten questions in the mailbag this week. Remember to email us your questions at RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com. That’s the best way to send us anything, really. Travis asks: Would Ian Kinsler make sense as a viable trade target or has Rob Refsnyder done enough with his September call up to be given […] The post Mailbag: Kinsler, Yamada, Angels, Pineda, W […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Thursday Open Thread October 8, 2015
    Normally the nightly open thread doesn’t go up until 7pm ET, but I’m going to post it a little earlier today because Game One of the ALDS starts at 3:30pm ET. Now that the Yankees’ season is over, I want to decompress and take it easy the rest of the week. We’ll start our annual […] The post Thursday Open Thread appeared first on River Avenue Blues. […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Manager Dave Miley will not return to Triple-A Scranton in 2016 October 8, 2015
    Longtime manager Dave Miley will not return to Triple-A Scranton next season, according to multiple reports. “Dave was great for the Yankees and did a lot of great stuff,” said Brian Cashman to George King. “Obviously, Gary (Denbo) is running (the farm system now) and is trying to put people in places. With new people […] The post Manager Dave Miley will not […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Cashman on Girardi’s status for 2016: “Nobody should be looking for anybody different” October 8, 2015
    Any time a Yankees season ends without a World Series title, the coaching staff and management will have their job security called into question. It happens every year. The Yankees didn’t win so changes need to be made, and it’s easier to get rid of coaches than players. That’s the general line of thinking. Don’t […] The post Cashman on Girardi’s status for […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Pineda and Eovaldi projected for largest arbitration raises in 2016 October 8, 2015
    Now that the season is over, we can start to look forward and figure out which direction the Yankees will go this offseason. They could go big with free agents, they could do nothing and continue to trust their prospects, or they could have another trade-heavy offseason. I’m sure there’s a middle ground somewhere. This […] The post Pineda and Eovaldi project […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Wednesday Night Open Thread October 7, 2015
    Your browser does not support iframes.I have to say, I still haven’t fully processed the Yankees being eliminated from the postseason. The one-game wildcard game is so weird. I still feel like there’s a Game Two coming at some point. Anyway, make sure you check out this Players’ Tribune piece by Francisco Cervelli, in which […] The post Wednesday Night Open […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Update: Yankees give Jorge Mateo time at second during Instructional League October 7, 2015
    October 7th: The Yankees have indeed had Mateo take ground balls on the right side of second base during Instructional League, but only to get him used to playing the shift, reports King. “He’s over there but only working on shifts,” said Brian Cashman. That makes sense. Again, I don’t see any harm in having […] The post Update: Yankees give Jorge Mateo time […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Sherman: Yankees were set to add Eovaldi to ALDS roster October 7, 2015
    According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees were planning to add Nathan Eovaldi to their ALDS roster had they beaten the Astros in last night’s wildcard game. That didn’t happen, so Eovaldi will go home for the winter like everyone else. For shame. Why is this important? Because it means Eovaldi is healthy. His season ended […] The post Sherman: Yankees were set […]
    Mike Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 61,112 hits


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: