The 2011 campaign was supposed to be a better year for the Orioles. Andy MacPhail is on the hot seat and may not return. Of course, we have to remember that analysis and performance is not the same thing. When we look at analysis, we go back further than 2011. We look at performance going back to 2007 and sometimes further. Sometimes players just have down seasons and sometimes they get hurt without warning.
It is hard to look at the Orioles and feel good about what they have done so far. The organization feels like an Etch-a-Sketch that seems to get partially erased every couple of seasons. Nothing seems to be sustained and so they are looking up at their rivals for another season. Furthermore, there is nothing on the horizon to make you think that won't be the case in 2012.
Team Payroll: $85.3 million (18th)
Starting Rotation: 22.5
Composite Ranking: 17.2
Analysis Score: +0.8
The lineup represents the greatest hope that MacPhail had for competitiveness and where a majority of the payroll rests. He added Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds in the offseason. The general idea was to pair them with established hitters like Brian Roberts, Luke Scott, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis. If everything broke right it would have been a formidable attack.
Some of it was out of everyone's control. Brian Roberts has been hurt for going on two years. Derrek Lee was not effective and later traded in a salary dump. Furthermore, Nick Markakis and Vladimir Guerrero did not produce the normal numbers they had in the past. Even the consistent Luke Scott went down with an injury.
Out of the group, only J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones produced as they had hoped. Matt Wieters continues to improve behind the dish and at the dish. He represents the direction the Orioles should be going.
Again, the performance has been worse than what the analysis dictates should have happened. Unfortunately, managers and general managers usually aren't judged on the quality of their decisions, but on the results of their decisions. Brian Matusz seemed destined to be a No. 2 or 3 starter before his season devolved into a 1-7, 9.84 ERA disaster.
The same could be said for Jeremy Guthrie. He has the unfortunate role of being the No. 1 pitcher. Going up against the league's No. 1 pitchers has taken its toll. He is mathematically in the running to lose 20 games. Zach Britton has been solid, but no one in this rotation knocked your socks off this year. The Orioles still have high hopes for Matusz, and it isn't out of the realm of possibility for him to bounce back next season. Still, there isn't enough here to make a good rotation.
The Orioles bullpen has been okay. Kevin Gregg is a decent enough closer and they had support from veterans like Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez was traded to the Rangers before the August 31 roster deadline. Koji Uehara was a revelation and MacPhail did a good job trading him while his value was high. Jim Johnson is also solid in the pen, but right now the pen amounts to Gregg, Johnson and a bunch of crap.
Response to Crisis
It is clear that Andy MacPhail thought he had made enough moves to make the Orioles respectable. I'm not sure that was the right way to go. He really didn't have any answers for when Brian Roberts, Luke Scott and the young pitchers went down with injuries. It seems the plan was to hope everything went according to plan. He did trade veterans Lee, Uehara and Gonzalez down the stretch. He didn't net much for any of them, but the financial savings should help some.
Analysis Score: +0.8 (15th)
Final Analysis: There is no way in heck that Andy MacPhail is in the middle of the pack. Even if we assume that everything would have broken right for the Orioles, they would have finished no higher than fourth in the AL East and probably still fifth.
If you add all of the free-agent money together, you get in excess of $20 million. Their payroll could be in the neighborhood of the Blue Jays or Nationals and probably have similar scores for the three phases. He likely will end up being at least in the bottom ten if not the bottom five.