Over the past ten years the Baltimore Orioles have underachieved and disappointed unlike any other team in Major league baseball. The problem was the Orioles where trying to play by the same rules as the Red Sox and Yankees with half the budget. The Red Sox and Yankees can pay for overpriced free agents while stocking their farm systems with late round picks on prized high school prospects who they buy out of their college commitments as well as go after international phenoms who are not eligible for the MLB amatuer draft.
The Orioles chose to try for the quick fix and use all their money on over priced free agents to try and turn them from cellar dwellers to pennant contenders in one off-season with no real plan for the future. This plan failed as nine out of the last ten seasons the Orioles have finished 4th in the AL East and the lone exception was in 2004 when they finished 3rd still twenty three games behind the division champion New York Yankees. The only reason the Orioles have not been last in their division is because of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays(now just the Rays) have obtained that crown the last ten years.
But this year is different because the Tampa Bay Rays are now in 1st place in the AL East and have made that transition from cellar dwellers to pennant contenders in just one year but they did it a very different way then the Orioles were trying to. The Rays have been building their farm system with smart drafting and smart deadline deals as seller building for the future. Although many in the public are surprised by the turnaround of the Rays alot of baseball people knew this was coming just didn't know how long it was going to take.
Although this year it looks as if the Orioles will finish this year in 5th place for the first time, moves made this year have the future looking bright. This off-season Andy MacPhail was brought in to be President of Baseball Operations and Owner Peter Angelos gave him operating autonomy meaning he doesn't need the owners approval to make a move. This is important because owner Peter Angelos has been the main reason the Orioles have not been able to rebuild.
On December 12th 2007 the first move was made when the Orioles traded former MVP shortshop Miguel Tejada almost four years to the day he signed as a free agent but more importantly one day before the Mitchell Report came out with Tejadas name on it. The trade brought back three major league ready pitchers, everyday outfielder Luke Scott and third base prospect Mike Costanzo. Although Tejada was an NL all star this year he admitted that he was two years older than everyone else thought he was making him 34 years old.
The next move was to trade star Erik Bedard for major league left hander George Sherrill who is 3rd in AL in saves also well has 4 pitching prospects and outfield prospect Adam Jones. The main prospects of this deal are pitching prospect Chris Tillman and outfield prospect Adam Jones who became the starting center fielder for the Orioles this year.Also last years first round pick Matt Wieters who some call the best prospect in baseball is playing very well in Double A Bowie and might get called up in late September and is expected to compete for the starting job next spring.
With all of this good news their is real hope for the Orioles in the future. Many people want the Orioles to go after hometown first basemen Mark Texiera who will be the most coveted everyday player going into this offseason. Although Texiera, a hometown switch hitting power hitter as well as being a gold glove first basemen would help this team, some are reporting that he will be requesting a contract worth around 200 million dollars. But buyer beware there has only been one other 200 million dollar man, Alex Rodriguez who has 3 MVPs but has no World Series rings.