No one had this recipe in their cookbook. The Baltimore Orioles haven’t made the playoffs, the past 14 seasons, has never operated as a ‘big market team’ payroll wise, and has been consistently been ranked in the lower ranks of organizational talent.
No, this was not the recipe for success.
We’re not going to offer up any magic spells here. No, we’re just going to break out exactly what Baltimore did in one season to turn this into the powerhouse they are now.
1. Change the Brain trust and Mindset of the Team – You want to be a winner? Hire winners: Named Rick Peterson director of pitching development; Mike Boulanger minor league hitting coordinator; Mike Bordick special assignment instructor, Bobby Dickerson roving infield instructor; Don Werner roving catching instructor; Butch Davis roving outfield instructor; Eric Cormell roving base running and speed training instructor; Scott McGregor rehabilitation coordinator; Dave Schmidt coordinator of Sarasota operations; Ron Johnson manager and Denny Walling hitting coach for Norfolk (IL); Jose Hernandez field coach at Frederick (Carolina); Einar Diaz field coach at Delmarva (SAL); Gary Allenson manager, Brad Komminsk hitting coach and Alan Mills pitching coach for Aberdeen (NYP); Larry Jaste; Sarah Gelles baseball analytics coordinator and Ben Werthan advance scouting coordinator. Promoted John Stockstill to director of player personnel, Tripp Norton to director of baseball administration, Ned Rice to assistant director of major league operations and Mike Snyder assistant director of scouting and player development.
2. Extend the heart of your team – CF Adam Jones (.288, 29-HR) represents the future of this team and his contract was running out at the end of the 2013 season. He now 85 million reasons to be happy eating crabs through the 2018 season.
3. Be Selective in Free agent signings – they signed P Wei-Yin Chen in the off-seaosn to a 3-year, $11.388mil contract through the 2014 season (12-9, 4.06)
5. Fill The Rest of The 25-man with One-year Contracts – they signed one via a trade (RHP Jason Hammel – with RHP Matt Lindstrom for RHP Jeremy Guthrie), five off the waivers list (C Luis Esposito – from Boston, SS Omar Quintanilla – from NY Mets, C Nate McLouth – from Atlanta, RP Joe Saunders – from Arizona, RP Randy Wolf – from Milwaukee) and 12 free agent signings (LHP Wei-Yin Chen – (3/yr deal), RHP Darren O’Day – (1/yr. deal – $1.35mil), RHP Jim Johnson – (1/yr deal – $2.625mil), IF Robert Andino – (1/yr. deal $1.3mil), IF Steve Tolleson – (1/yr. deal), RHP Steve Johnson – (1/yr. deal), RHP Luis Ayala – (1/yr deal $825K), RHP Tommy Hunter (1/yr. deal $493.5K), LHP Zach Phillips (1/yr. deal), RHP Pedro Strop (1/yr. deal – $482.5K), C Taylor Teagarden (1/yr. deal $489.5K), RHP Chris Tillman (1/yr. deal)
(I went to the official web site on 9-9-12 and the Orioles listed 34 players on their “active” (post-August) roster. 18 of them, or over 50% of the current active roster was obtained through one-year contracts, waiver deals or trades.)
6. Who Let The Dogs In? – Various relic ‘names’ came and went through the clubhouse looking for lightning to strike in the bottle…LHP Dontrelle Willis, RHP Joel Pineiro, OF Endy Chavez, LHP Jamie Moyer, RHP Matt Lindstrom, C Ronnie Paulino all had a locker at some point this season, and are now not part of the success.
7. Move Up and Play Your Primary Prospects – No one is ever going to accuse the Orioles as having a deep minor league system. This makes all this success even stranger this season.
There have only been 11 Baltimore draft picks since 2005 to play in the majors before SS Manny Machado was called up. They are, and where they are now, are:
2005 – 1st round – P Garrett Olson – Mets
2006 – 1st round – P Pedro Beato – Boston
2nd round – Ryan Adams – 89 lifetime at bats
3rd round – Zach Britton – 11-11, 4.51 lifetime Baltimore
4th round – Blake Davis – 59 lifetime at bats
6th round – Jason Berken – 10-17, 5.34 – CWS
2007 – 1st round – Matt Wieters
5th round – P Jake Arrieta – 16-14, 4.88 lifetime – Baltimore
7th round – Matt Angle – 79 lifetime at bats – Baltimore
2008 – 1st round – Brian Matusz
#4 round – Kyle Hudson – 28 lifetime at bats – Philly
2009 – no one
2010 – no one
2011 – no one
There really are only three “prospects” that have added anything to the current team
SS Manny Machado – called up late in the season – hitting .274
C Matt Weiters – 1st round (5th overall) – 2007 – 5th season in organization – signed 1/yr. $500K contract for 2012
LHP Brian Matusz – 1st round (4th overall) – 2008 – 4th season in organization –
I’m not suggesting the Mets should operate this way, though it does seem to mirror some of the same issues Flushing currently has (by the way, all this above was done at a salary range in the high-90’s, similar to the Mets also.
The key here seems to be the results derived from the players you have signed to a 1-year contract.
Nothing stands out team-stat wise… 8th in pitching (Mets 11th)… 10th in hitting (Mets 10th)… last in fielding (Mets 12th).
They just seem to score more runs more often than the team they are playing, regardless of how much they kick the ball around.