A: Creepy twin girls at the end of long hallways and Grant Balfour rage.
Q: What are two things that petrify most people on planet earth?
Seriously, isn’t that picture terrifying?
Over a month after the Baltimore Orioles nixed his two-year, $15 million deal due to health concerns, Grant Balfour has found a new home (old home?) in Tampa Bay (well, St. Petersburg to be specific). After hearing his initial comments in December, I expected the veteran closer to sign on another dotted line hours after the Birds sent him packing. Regardless, he got his deal — even if it was for $3 million less than what the O’s were reportedly offering.
Here’s what Balfour told 98.7 The Fan’s Booger McFarland and Rich Herrera after being introduced Thursday afternoon:
To be honest, a little bit, when I found out I could get the chance to play Baltimore 19 times, I’m not going to lie, that was intriguing. You know, it’s just one of those things. Nothing against any of the players there or anything, but it got me a little fired up.
Great. Super. Fantastic. Extraordinary. Now a guy has extra motivation to beat the Orioles. Splendid.
As I watched Balfour get introduced on Thursday, I still struggled to wrap my head around what just unfolded this winter. Here’s the timeline I put together:
- O’s trade Jim Johnson and his combined 101 saves over the past two seasons to Oakland in an effort to dump his $10 million salary.
- Dan Duquette targets free agent closer Grant Balfour to replace JJ in the 9th.
- Balfour agrees to deal, but fails his physical.
- Rays physician Dr. Koko Eaton and Reds medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek examine Balfour and publicly question the Orioles decision.
- ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that Balfour failed his physical due to wrist and knee concerns, not shoulder as was previously reported.
- Duquette tells reporters he’s happy with the Orioles internal candidates for the closer’s role.
- Balfour inks a two-year, $12 million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.
- Jonah Keri reports that the Orioles are making progress on Fernando Rodney.
I have more questions than that annoying kid sitting in the front row that holds up the entire class asking the professor stupid hypotheticals or things like: “is this going to be on the final” or “which part are we not allowed to use our calculator on, again”?
- What did the Orioles doctors see in their physical that didn’t concern Eaton or Kremchek?
- After Tyler Colvin failed his physical, do the Orioles doctors just have crazy-high standards for their screenings? Wouldn’t that be a good thing?
- But then how the hell does Nolan Reimold keep passing physicals with the Orioles?
- What do the Rays think of Balfour’s wrist and/or knee?
- Do the Orioles want to sign a closer or not? Make up your mind dude.
- And if they do, are they going to realize how desperately they need to improve the starting rotation?
It’s a tough spot for the Orioles. If they see an issue in a physical, but still commit $15 million to a 36 year old closer who then he gets hurt halfway through the season, they make a poor investment. Instead, they look foolish by backing away from a deal that was so close to completion.
As a fan, I guess I applaud them for choosing to first option. I guess. But their decision will be tough to stomach is Balfour comes out all Hulk-like and dominant against them this season.
*GASP* Only the Orioles would do such a thing.
Milwaukee sent out this funky disclaimer tweet last night:
Despite media reports, negotiations between the #Brewers and Matt Garza are ongoing, but there is no deal yet.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) January 24, 2014
More than backing out of the Balfour deal and flip-flopping on the need for a shutdown closer, the thing that has frustrated Orioles fans most this offseason has been the team just not addressing any of their needs so far. They moved Johnson, lost Nate McLouth to the Nationals and, oh by the way, the face of the franchise in the 2000s is playing along-side Derek Jeter in New York. And you want to know the worst part about it? He’s always dreamed of playing in the Bronx.
Twist that knife a little more.
Six months from now, everyone could easily forget about how bad this offseason looked on January 24 if the team ends up making the necessary improvements to return to the postseason. But right now, they haven’t.
Image Credit: Keith Allison