Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Orioles Rundown- More to this Team Than Teixeira Rumors

It is very difficult to write a post right now without talking about it, so I will. The Teixeira negotiations are still ongoing, with Karl Ravech saying yesterday that the free agent first baseman was leaning towards the Orioles only to hear today that Baltimore has been almost eliminated from contention. Now of course we are hearing out of the Warehouse that they could increase their offer after all. *Sigh* I am glad I am not a beat writer, and I am glad that this blog doesn’t try to post all of that. Look, this is how these negotiations are done- Scott Boras is just playing the market as he always does, sending mixed signals to keep every team on its heels and work the respective fan bases into a frenzy. He is an expert, and that is why he is the superagent right now. I would advise any Orioles fan to take these reports with a grain of salt. As tempting as it is to try to figure out where he will land, these things are meant to deceive you. Once in a while some piece of information will break and you will get it right ahead of time, but this is too rare to be relied upon. There are about a million “sources close to the negotiations” that you shouldn’t rely on any of them. Luckily for us, there are some much more concrete (and positive) things to report.

As you likely know by now, the Orioles have a shortstop! After a year of mediocrity at best and futility at worst, Baltimore has acquired a mid-level shortstop in Cesar Izturis, known for lockdown defense and a mid-200’s batting average in 8 seasons in the majors with the Blue Jays, Angels, Dodgers, Cubs, Pirates, and Cardinals. He may be a journeyman, but the 28 year old could be valuable in locking up the position for 3 or even 4 years while the Orioles wait for a top level shortstop to work his way through the system. In fact, the 2004 Gold Glove winner will likely be more than just a stopgap. Despite his numerous moves, Izturis has shown consistency in each one of his stops. He also adds to the Orioles team speed, with 24 steals in 135 games last season. With Freel, and (probably) Roberts on the roster, Baltimore could become an even greater running threat. This is not a player who will let losing drag down his average or be a cancer in the clubhouse when the season goes south. No, he won’t cause Orioles fans to completely forget the shortstop issue, but he won’t make it a point of deficiency on this roster.

Too often fans think that a team has to answer a need with a star player or a future All Star. Have a need at 1st base? Get Mark Teixeira. Need a closer? Call up Francisco Rodriguez’s agent. That isn’t always true. Most often, it is smarter to answer a need with a solid mid-level player to fill the need, there is no sense making a blockbuster move when a subtle one will do. I liked this move a lot. MacPhail realized that he didn’t need Rafael Furcal here- he only needed a shortstop. He got him in Cesar Izturis. He isn’t a household name, but he is just what the Orioles need right now.

A final word on Daniel Cabrera: I have heard whispers that as Daniel Cabrera has attracted interest from numerous different teams, that perhaps the O’s should have held onto him. Cabrera might be successful somewhere else, but not here. This is a player who, once again, led the league in walks, hit batsmen, and wild pitches. I know Baltimore needs pitchers, and this will further add to the glaring need for starters in this rotation. However, regardless of the circumstances, this move had to happen. There were too many chances for Daniel, and he just never turned it around.

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