Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jeff Fiorentino is Back, a Reminder of the Past

Remember Jeff Fiorentino? The guy the Orioles brought up directly from single-A Frederick in 2005, played sparingly for two years, and symbolized the problems with the front office bringing up people too quickly? Well after getting rid of him via waivers, bringing him back, and a full season this year in Norfolk, he is back on the Orioles via the expanded roster, according to the Baltimore Sun. Also joining the expanded roster will be relievers Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate, and Alberto Castillo.

The Orioles will likely use all three of those relievers in September. The team has made it clear that they are going to be careful with the development of the young pitchers, especially Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz, so the O's will have a lot of innings to have pitched. This is especially important to Sarfate, who has not been active due to injury most of the year, and also Albers, who could still be a useful pitcher in the bullpen someday due to the fact he is only 26 and has at times been solid.

But Fiorentino's return is most interesting. It isn't even about Fiorentino. He has certainly done well this year with the Tides, hitting .312 with 12 home runs. At just 26 he could someday become a useful outfielder on the bench for the Orioles or someone else. But him returning reminds Oriole fans of the past. In the middle of the decade, the Orioles were constantly having problems in the farm system and rushing up too many people, causing problems in their development and ruining their chances. Fiorentino was having a great start in single-A Frederick, and the Orioles brought him up in May 2005 to the major league level. What happened is what many would expect, he did very little despite a .250 average, and was sent right back down. The most memorable moment was colliding with Sammy Sosa on a routine fly ball that Sosa was calling for, costing the Orioles a run instead of ending the inning. He only played 13 games that year, but it is not the way to develop prospects. The Orioles had rushed up players like Fiorentino and Daniel Cabrera in years past, and subsequently the farm system suffered. The Orioles were squandering their young talent.

Hopefully, the Orioles have moved on from that time. It looks like for now they have under Andy MacPhail. The return of Fiorentino is a reminder of the problematic past of the Orioles, and let's hope that it is a symbol that things are changing. Welcome back Jeff, and let's hope this trip to Charm City is better than the last time.

(Photo credit: Norfolk Tides)

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