The Orioles have been awfully busy the past week. It all started with the signing of their first Japanese player Koji Uehara. After that they brought veteran catcher Gregg Zaun back to Baltimore from Toronto. Then a couple trades were made. Pitcher Garrett Olson to Chicago for Outfielder Felix Pie and relief pitcher Randor Bierd to the Red Sox for pitcher David Pauley. After making a couple trades the Orioles pulled out their wallets and rewarded right fielder Nick Markakis to a 6 year 66.1 million dollar extension. Finally, yesterday the O’s gave Luke Scott a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration.
But what does it all mean? I mean we didn’t bring in Mark Teixeira so do these moves really make a difference?
You might not see the affects of these moves this year, but I believe that Andy MacPhail and company are making serious progress in their moves at the warehouse in Camden Yards.
Bringing in Koji is huge for the Orioles. Even if he does nothing for the team it expands the Orioles horizons internationally. When the Orioles signed a player born in Japan it meant that they were serious about looking for talent all over the world and that means a lot.
Two years ago the Orioles drafted a big power hitting catcher with a lot of potential, Matt Wieters. While Wieters has quickly risen through the minor league system the Birds needed someone to fill the gap before he makes it to the bigs. So they brought in an experience catcher to mentor Wieters in Gregg Zaun. Zaun, was in an Oriole in 1995 and is the nephew of the O’s 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey.
Baltimore looks to be a team with young talent that they want to build around. Last year they brought in Adam Jones to play centerfield and Luke Scott who can DH and play leftfield. Both pick ups were big for the Birds. Jones is young, fast on the bases, and he learned quickly. Scott plays well too and he proved that he has the potential to be a power hitter in the majors.
Everyone knows Nick Markakis, the guy has to be only a few votes away being an All-Star and is very well deserving. He always makes highlight reels with his defense and his bat isn’t too shabby either. Markakis is hitting .299 in his three seasons with the O’s and is good for about 20 homers a year. The Orioles really needed to lock him up and reward him and with 66.1 million over 6 years they did exactly that.
Pitching is where the O’s hurt. Statistically, they hit better than the Tampa Bay Rays did last year, but they couldn’t pitch. Right now the Orioles rotation consists of two starters. Guthrie and Uehara. They desparately need to make some more moves. Pauley’s numbers don’t look good, but I have faith in MacPhail and his vision.
Surely, the Orioles will make more moves before the season begins. The future is already looking bright for Baltimore.