Honestly, Baltimore Orioles fans: How confused are you about how this offseason is turning out?
We knew Andy MacPhail said that he was going to go out and make moves, but how many times have we been handed that speech, only to have him not sign anyone worth mentioning?
Well, how about these for some names: Mark Reynolds, Derrek Lee, J.J. Hardy, Kevin Gregg and Justin Duchscherer. Now, there are even rumors of Vladimir Guerrero.
Raise your hand if you saw the Orioles moving that many chips around.
Whether this will work or not, I can’t tell with any certainty. But I can say that 2011 could very well be the season of hope.
Two years ago, we were introduced to the young stars that will lead our organization into the future (Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Brian Matusz, etc.). Last season, we saw them finally mature in the last two months under the tutelage of Buck Showalter.
Now, the Orioles have gone into free agency and already added five guys that will make big contributions to a team that could see drastic improvement in the upcoming season.
With Reynolds and Lee at the corner infield spots, the Orioles have found power at the plate and solid defense at crucial positions. Hardy is a giant improvement at shortstop from Cesar Izturis, as he isn’t a liability in the lineup. Kevin Gregg will more than likely earn the job for closer.
Finally, Duchscherer, if healthy (and this is a big “if”) gives the Orioles a veteran pitcher that stabilizes the rotation and unloads the pressure off of Jeremy Guthrie, which he struggled with in 2009.
What made these moves great for the Orioles is the low cost they came with. The Lee, Duchscherer and Gregg deals were low-risk because of the length of the contracts, so there is no chance of being burned like the Orioles were with Garrett Atkins or Mike Gonzalez.
In addition, the trades for Reynolds and Hardy used prospects that didn’t substantially hurt the organization's future.
I have been an Orioles fan since I learned the game as a boy in the mid-‘90s and never have I seen such an aggressive offseason. If you are an Orioles fan that has criticized every non-move the team has made, give MacPhail credit for what he has done these past few months.
Maybe the Orioles can become a respectable organization yet again.
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