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

  • Game 81: Halfway Point July 4, 2015
    Today is the halfway point of the season. Game 81. What have we learned about the 2015 Yankees so far? We’ve learned they look damn near unbeatable at their best and a cellar-dweller at their worst. I suppose that’s true of every team, but these Yankees seem to take it to the extreme. If you’d [...] Game 81: Halfway Point is a post from: River Avenue Blues T […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Saturday Links: A-Rod, Sierra, High-Def, Benefits, Girardi July 4, 2015
    The Yankees and Rays continue their three-game series with an Independence Day matinee at Yankee Stadium later today. Here are some links to help you pass the time until the game. A-Rod wants to make the All-Star team The All-Star Game rosters will be announced soon — the starters will be announced tomorrow night, the [...] Saturday Links: A-Rod, Sierra, Hig […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Yanks come from behind twice, beat Rays 7-5 on McCann’s three-run walk-off homer July 4, 2015
    Your browser does not support iframes.Love this team. Love. This. Team. Best game of the season? Yup. Not even close. The Yankees battled back not once, but twice to beat the Rays 7-5 in 12 innings on Friday night. Brian McCann‘s walk-off three-run homer sent everyone home happy. It’s Friday night and a holiday weekend, [...] Yanks come from behind twice, be […]
    Mike Axisa
  • DotF: Bird promoted to Triple-A after another big game July 4, 2015
    Some news and notes: Both 1B Greg Bird (14th) and RHP Luis Severino (16th) made this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. One of these days the molten hot OF Dustin Fowler will get some love. Maybe. Possibly. Probably not. The Yankees have acquired OF Jake Skole from the Rangers for cash, reports Gerry Fraley. This is [...] DotF: Bird promoted to Triple-A after anothe […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Game 80: Tanaka Time vs. Tampa July 3, 2015
    This weekend’s series with the Rays is pretty important. I mean, all games against AL East rivals will be important going forward because the division is so tight. Every single game matters. Each win in July is one less you need in September. Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound tonight following two really shaky [...] Game 80: Tanaka Time vs. Tampa is a pos […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Yankees to donate $150,000 to charity in exchange for A-Rod’s 3,000th hit ball July 3, 2015
    Earlier today, the Yankees announced they have reached an agreement with noted ballhawk Zack Hample for Alex Rodriguez‘s 3,000th hit ball. The team will donate $150,000 to Pitch In For Baseball, a charity Hample has been involved with for years. There will be a press conference to present A-Rod with the ball this afternoon. Hample [...] Yankees to donate $15 […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Yankees, A-Rod agree to donate 660th homer milestone bonus to charity July 3, 2015
    Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees have reached a settlement for the $6M milestone bonus stemming from his 660th career home run, MLB and MLBPA announced in a joint statement. The union was handling the matter on A-Rod‘s behalf, and a few weeks ago we heard they requested a “hold” so they could continue to negotiate [...] Yankees, A-Rod agree to donate 660th hom […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Yankees place Beltran on 15-day DL, recall Flores and Petit July 3, 2015
    The Yankees have placed Carlos Beltran on the 15-day DL with an oblique strain, the team announced. Ramon Flores and Gregorio Petit were both called up from Triple-A Scranton in corresponding moves. Taylor Dugas was optioned down to Triple-A to clear the other roster spot. Beltran, 38, left Tuesday’s game in Anaheim after grabbing his [...] Yankees place Bel […]
    Mike Axisa
  • 7/2 to 7/5 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays July 3, 2015
    Just three series left until the All-Star break, and this weekend the Yankee play a pretty important three-game set against the Rays. The AL East race is super tight and these two clubs (as well as some others) figure to be neck and neck all season. The Yankees are 6-4 against the Rays this season, [...] 7/2 to 7/5 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays is a post fr […]
    Mike Axisa
  • RAB Live Chat July 3, 2015
    RAB Live Chat is a post from: River Avenue Blues RAB Live Chat is a post from: River Avenue Blues The post RAB Live Chat appeared first on River Avenue Blues.
    Mike Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 60,926 hits

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: