The Baltimore Orioles didn’t sign Zack Greinke and they probably won’t lock up Josh Hamilton, Kyle Lohse or Anibal Sanchez either. They let Mark Reynolds walk, re-signed Nate McLouth to a one-year deal and have been stock piling players from the independent leagues the past couple weeks.
There. Now you’re caught up on what’s going on this winter in Birdland.
Fans in Baltimore have been venting about the O’s minor acquisitions and lack of interest in the big free agents. Although they’re the same folks that think firing Cam Cameron will solve all of the Ravens problems.
It should be noted that the Orioles didn’t make any big splashes in last year’s free agent market either. Dan Duquette was hired just before the 2011 Winter Meetings and the Birds’ biggest acquisitions last winter included names like Darren O’Day, Ryan Flaherty, Dana Eveland, Wei-Yin Chen and Wilson Betemit.
Those guys didn’t particularly grab big headlines in November, December and January, but they sure did in August, September and October.
On Monday night, the Orioles signed righty Kyle Mertins from the American Association. According to MASNSports.com’s Roch Kubatko, Mertins was drafted in the 28th-round pick of the 2010 draft by the Atlanta Braves and went 4-1 with a 1.00 ERA in 45 relief appearances for the Sioux Falls Pheasants last year.
So there’s that.
Kubatko notes that the O’s have also signed American Association pitchers Marcel Prado from El Paso and Chase Johnson from Amarillo, and outfielder Buddy Sosnoski from Fargo-Moorehead. They’ve hit up the Frontier League as well, signing lefty Logan Mahon from Gateway, shortstop Chris Wade from Windy City and catcher Jim Vahalik from the Washington Wild Things.
The Wild Things. I love it.
The Orioles aren’t interested in signing Nick Swisher and, as of now, seem content with Chris Davis replacing Mark Reynolds at first. I don’t know if they’ll trade for a guy like Michael Morse or Justin Morneau, two power hitting first baseman, or if they’ll just look for a capable right handed platoon bat to pair with Wilson Betemit in the DH role.
Betemit hit .302/.357/.502 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI in 280 plate appearances against right handed pitching. He batted just .140/.219/.186 with one homer and 10 RBI in 91 plate appearances against lefties.
Adding a platoon bat is much less exciting than signing Josh Hamilton, but only until the team starts winning actual ballgames in April, as opposed to games on paper in December. Marlins fans thought their team won a lot of these virtual games when their team signed Heath Bell last winter. But given the choice between signing Bell (4-5, 5.09 ERA, 2.03 K/BB) or Darren O’Day (7-1, 2.28 ERA, 4.93 K/BB), I think Miami would take the O’s winter acquisitions any day of the week.
But the Fish were the kings of the offseason in 2011. As were the Angels. And both teams sat at home watching the Orioles in October.
You don’t have to win the offseason to win in the regular season. The Orioles clearly have a plan and a direction for their franchise and Dan Duquette is sticking with it. After last season’s success, let’s hold off on the sarcastic tweets and comments until we see how this team performs on the diamond.