What the Orioles Should Do

by Warren Menzer

<!-- Article Starts Here --!> How much fun would it be to become GM of the Orioles? You could make a couple of trades and free agents signings, and after one year you'd look like a complete genius, after the bonehead moves this organization has been making over the past few years. Let me say this for the millionth time: money does not equal quality. Yes, the Yankees spend money, and yes, they're a great team, but spending money only works effectively if you spend money on good players. The Orioles need a serious dose of reality here.

So now that I've presumptiously declared that I could do a better job than the Orioles have been doing, what moves would I make? Let's look at the lineup and rotation as it would stand today:

CF - Brady Anderson
SS - Melvin Mora
LF - Delino DeShields
RF - Albert Belle
DH - Jeff Conine
1B - Chris Richard
C - Brook Fordyce
3B - Cal Ripken
2B - Jerry Hairston

SP - Scott Erickson
SP - Sidney Ponson
SP - Jason Johnson
SP - Jose Mercedes
SP - Josh Towers

That's not so good, considering the lineup itself costs about $35 million. The Orioles' farm system is not overflowing with talent, but they have a few players that are good enough to hold the fort for now. I'd advocate trading as much of this expensive lineup as possible, realizing that the Orioles would probably have to share part of the salary of Albert Belle after a trade (assuming anyone would take him). The overall plan would be this - sign Mike Mussina to a long term deal, dump as much salary as possible from the current team (while getting some good prospects in return), and grab a couple low-key (and low-price) free agents. Sounds simple, doesn't it?

If all went according to plan, these would be the deals I'd make - trade Albert Belle to the Mets for Benny Agbayani and Alex Escobar, the Mets outfield prospect (absorb some of Belle's salary if necessary). Trade Brady Anderson to Colorado for Brian Rose, Juan Uribe (SS), and Brent Butler (2B). Trade Jeff Conine to some sucker team for a couple of low-level prospects. Ditto with Delino Deshields.

It certainly looks like the Orioles are running out of major league players, but that's probably a good thing at this point, given the success of those players. To give those newly acquired prospects some time to get ready, sign free-agent Rich Becker (RF) and install Calvin Pickering at DH and Luis Matos at CF.

This team would have a bright future, with Alex Escobar, Juan Uribe, Brent Butler, Luis Rivera (if he can stay healthy), and some Orioles minor-leaguers like Keith Reed, Richard Stahl, and Edward Rogers all ready in the next couple of years, and Luis Matos, B.J. Ryan, Josh Towers and Ryan Kohlmeier on the major league roster.

Okay, all that activity made me tired - I'm going to lie down.

Plan B:

Re-sign Mussina, sign Manny Ramirez to play left field, and pray.

2001 Suggested 25-man roster:

RF - Rich Becker
LF - Benny Agbayani
DH - Calvin Pickering
1B - Chris Richard
CF - Luis Matos
3B - Cal Ripken
C - Brook Fordyce
2B - Jerry Hairston

C - Fernando Lunar
IN - Ryan Minor
IN - Jesse Garcia
UT - Ivanon Coffie
OF - Karim Garcia
OF - Trenidad Hubbard

Mike Mussina
Scott Erikson
Sidney Ponson
Jason Johnson
Josh Towers

Ryan Kohlmeier
Mike Trombley
Buddy Groom
Jose Mercedes
Chuck McElroy
B.J. Ryan <!-- Article Ends Here --!>

Send Warren your opinions, comments or verbal abuse at warren@JBaseball.

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