The Oriole Way.
It had been missing in Baltimore since Peter Angelos bought the club in 1993. Angelos, named one of the five worst owners in all of sports by Sports Illustrated in 2009, quickly destroyed the team by trading away young players the team developed in exchange for old, expensive players nearing the end of their careers.
Things got so bad in Baltimore that even the old and expensive players decided to go elsewhere when they hit free agency. The Orioles then began a much too long run living in the basement of their division.
In 2007, Angelos hired Andy McPhail as the teams general manager and President of Baseball Operations. McPhail's father, Lee, was a general manager and club president of the Orioles from 1958 to 1965, and is one of the chief architects of the Oriole Way.
The Oriole Way is a simple philosophy of building your club through excellent drafts and a sound farm system. Lee McPhail, the oldest living Hall of Famer currently, came up with this as the farm system director of the New York Yankees from 1949 to 1958, as the Yankees won seven World Series in his time with them.
Baltimore began to show the promise of youth served in 2009, led by Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Felix Pie, Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, and All-Star Nick Markakis. They also had two-time All-Star Brian Roberts signed to a contract until 2014.
How Should The Orioles Proceed Into 2011?
With young hurlers Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, and Jake Arrieta expecting to help veterans like Kevin Millwood, Mike Gonzales, and Jeremy Guthrie this season, the Orioles expected to build off the promise left from the season before.
Things did not work that way, as injuries soon dismantled the team along with underachievement. Roberts was only able to suit up for 59 games while Millwood, the expected ace of the staff, and Gonzales, the expected closer, played well under expectations.
Now, Buck Showalter is the manager, having been hired July 30 because the club felt like a shake up might light a fire under the roster. The team has gone nine games above .500 since then, and Showalter, who owns a .516 winning percentage in 1,769 games, promises more changes in what may be his fourth and final mangerial job.
As the Orioles head home to host the Detroit Tigers for the final four games of their 2010 season, let us review the current rosters chances of sticking with the club next season.
Brian Roberts: The Orioles really missed him in the lead-off spot this year. All of Baltimore hopes this doubles-hitting machine returns to full health next year.
Ty Wiggington: Wiggy got off to a fast start and made his first All-Star team. He tapered off as the year progressed and his contract has expired. He may return.
Julio Lugo: Once sought after in baseball, he doesn't field well and did not hit this year. Adios.
Robert Andino: A veteran utility player who doesn't hit much. A doubtful return.
Cesar Izturis: A veteran journeyman shortstop who won a Gold Glove in 2004 and was an All-Star the next year. He doesn't hit much and his contact has expired. He might not return.
Josh Bell: Baltimore got this 24-year-old switch hitter from the Dodgers in 2009 for closer George Sherrill. The team is high on him, so next year will be a better gauge of his talents.
Brandon Snyder: Baltimore's first round pick in 2005, this 23-year old first baseman got only 17 at-bats over eight games this year. He will be given a chance to win the job in Spring training.
Matt Wieters: He has shown steady improvement since his debut in August, 2010. A face of the team.
Jake Fox: A utility player without much of a bat. Long-shot to return, but his versatility makes it possible.
Craig Tatum: He is a defensive specialist who spells Weiters, and batted .273. He sticks unless they upgrade.
Adam Jones: A Gold Glove center fielder, he is one of the faces of the franchise.
Nick Markakis: The best player on the team, and a major cornerstone of the franchise.
Felix Pie: He frustrated the Chicago Cubs, who waited on him to put all five of his tools together consistently. Injured much of this year, he still shows flashes. Time may be running out on Pie, who will be 26 next year. If he doesn't pick it up, it may be his last as an Oriole.
Luke Scott: He is frequently mentioned as trade bait, but he is the teams best power source and led them with 27 homers. He should stay on.
Corey Patterson: A journeyman with good speed and an erratic bat. He was solid as an extra outfielder this year, so he has a chance to return.
Nolan Reimold: After a solid rookie year, he suffered a sophomore slump this season and spent most of it in the minors. Baltimore would love him to return to his 2009 form. We'll see.
Kevin Millwood: Had a frustrating season, losing 16 games. His ERA was well over five, but he ate up 190 innings and was a huge victim of non-run support. He might be better off at the end of the rotation as opposed to being on top like this year. He returns unless beaten out in Spring training.
Jeremy Guthrie: He probably works best as a third or fourth starter, but he led the team in innings pitched, wins, and had the best ERA (3.98) amongst starters. He returns.
Brad Bergesen: Only 25-years old, he led the team with two complete games. He returns.
Chris Tillman: His Triple-A success has yet to translate in the bigs. He needs to step it up.
David Hernandez: Found himself in the pen, going 8-8 with two saves and a 4.31 ERA. He likely returns.
Brian Matusz: Went 9-12 on 31 starts in his rookie year. Counted on as the future ace.
Jake Arrieta: Went 6-6 in 18 starts in his rookie season. Will get a good shot next year.
Alfredo Simon: Leads the club with 17 saves, but blew four and fell out of favor. Long-shot to return.
Matt Albers: He leads the team with 61 appearances. He probably stays.
Mark Hendrickson: The veteran 6'9" journeyman is a soft tosser who can start or come out the pen. The former second round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers will be 37 next year, so his return is tenuous.
Jim Johnson: "Nails" does well in the set-up role, but was bad as a closer. He stays.
Michael Gonzales: He will be 33-years next season, and in the last year of a two-year $12 million contract. He gave Baltimore one of his career 55 saves this year, but he might stick one last year.
Troy Patton: They got him for Miguel Tejada in 2007, and the lefty appeared in one game this year. A longshot perhaps.
Pedro Viola: A lefty with two appearances and 1.1 innings of work after being claimed off waivers in April. A long shot at best.
Koji Uehara: He went from an oft-injured starter to closer. He blew just two save opportunities and converted 10. The soon-to-be 36-year old might find a spot in the bullpen.
Rick VandenHurk: They traded veteran lefty Will Olman for him and the veteran swingman has not been impressive in his seven game. A long-shot who may stick to justify the deal made to get him.
Free Agents In 2011 For Baltimore To Look At and Consider
Huston Street: He battled nagging injuries this year, but still has 20 saves right now. He also has 149 in his career and is only 27. He would help a lot.
Jorge De la Rosa: Another Colorado Rockies pitcher who battled injuries this season. Still only 30-years old, this lefty could help.
Joe Blanton: He eats innings and has AL experience. His price tag might be too high, so the four-years older and underrated Javier Vazquez could be an option.
Carl Crawford: He will be a hot commodity because he is 29, very fast, has a good bat and glove. May be out of the Orioles' price range.