Orioles fans are panicking for the wrong reason: It's not the calendar, it's the philosophy - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Orioles fans are panicking for the wrong reason: It’s not the calendar, it’s the philosophy

I’ve been sensing a lot of panic in Birdland this past week or so. Text messages, emails, social media comments. More panic than usual, actually.

And I think the calendar is what is doing it – that and the fact the Orioles still only have two members of their rotation written in pen.

I understand the sentiment. The Orioles were a last-place team in 2017, pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13 with their first workout the next day, and the Orioles have filled no holes from an 87-loss club by Jan. 18.

For a moment, though, allow me to be Kevin Bacon’s character in Animal House and profess, “All is well.” (Yes, I know it is an outdated reference, but if you haven’t seen Animal House, that’s on you, not me.)

OK, so all isn’t quite well. But I think the panic may be a bit misdirected.

Normally, if a team hasn’t done anything to improve itself by mid-January then it should be full-fledged, breathing-into-a-bag time.

This isn’t a normal offseason, however. With three-plus weeks left in the “traditional offseason,” the majority of top free agents are still available. You could put together a pretty solid 25-man roster with what’s remaining on the open market. And most teams haven’t done a whole lot to get better for the upcoming season.

So, see, there’s no need to panic that the Orioles are running out of time. Nothing really has changed since the winter meetings, and there are still ways for the club to improve considerably for 2018. It simply takes money and a keen eye.

Now, here comes the dose of reality that I like to splash on occasion.


I’m still not sold that the Orioles will do much in free agency to make themselves better this winter. That they are fishing from the same pond that they were in December, and that the best Orioles’ fans can hope for is a couple lower-tier starting pitchers that are looking to rebound in 2018.

Just because Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish and Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb are still available doesn’t make me think that the Orioles have changed course and will land one of them.

The only way that happens is if the market continues to gather frost and the panic happens on the other end, and free agents start to take lesser deals just to have jobs. If that does occur, the Orioles are in a good spot because that’s executive vice president Dan Duquette’s wheelhouse.

I kept saying throughout the 2013-14 offseason that the Orioles weren’t going to sign slugger Nelson Cruz because his demands wouldn’t plummet to the depths where the organization was comfortable. And then it happened, Duquette jumped in and secured the best one-year deal in franchise history.

That could happen again this year. Of course, you’d need three Nelson Cruz types this year, and at least two would have to pitch.

The reality: The odds of striking one-year, free-agent gold three times in one offseason aren’t good. And the odds of the Orioles suddenly deciding to spend considerable money to take advantage of the glut of free agents right now seems even worse.

I guess what I’m saying is if you want to panic, you have my blessing. But not because the Orioles’ shopping list isn’t filled on Jan. 18 and not because time is running out before spring training begins.

Panic for the right reason: Because there’s just no indication that this team is going to fill its obvious holes with quality/proven replacements for 2018.



  1. Ben1

    January 18, 2018 at 7:37 am

    We can only look to Angelos and Duquette which is a strong argument for prayers.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 9:26 am

      Always good to strengthen one’s faith.

  2. DauerPower

    January 18, 2018 at 7:39 am

    When discussions of the O’s lack of obvious talent comes up I always remember them winning an AL pennant with Kiko Garcia at SS. Any team that can do that can do anything.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 9:27 am

      Joe Saunders won the Orioles their first playoff game in 14 years. These are all pro athletes. They can step up. Sum of the parts.

  3. Marshall

    January 18, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Well, if the bar conversation theme today is Animal House…

    1.) I think the fans collectively have Duq & Angelos on double secret probation

    2.) For this particular market, we may have stolen the wrong test. What’s all this lyin’ around s***?

    3.) We’re all waiting for the “You F’d up, you trusted us!” speech from the front office

    4.) Our complete starting pitching staff …has no grade point average

    5.) It’s time for ramming speed. Commit one way or the other, enough of the middle ground in the offseasons

    • Strovel

      January 18, 2018 at 8:33 am


    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 9:28 am

      Very well done. I’ll bring over a drink chip from the Tap Room

    • bigdaddydk

      January 18, 2018 at 10:15 am

      You’re right. Psychotic, but right.

  4. Strovel

    January 18, 2018 at 8:32 am


  5. Dblack2508

    January 18, 2018 at 8:39 am

    They key is “fishing from the same pond”. The big reason to panic is the lack of direction the club has. No plan , plain and simple. Personally, I would rather see a rebuild of sorts than to throw good money after bad.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 9:29 am

      Yep on direction. And again it’s spending the money wisely.

  6. Djowen

    January 18, 2018 at 8:42 am

    I’ve said it before. As long as we look to other teams leftovers we will not make it to the WS. Winning teams take risks on players that other teams actually want. We take risks on players no other team wants. Hopefully Angelos’s sons will not follow their fathers philosophy when they take over. It changed in NY when George died so I still have hope it could happen here.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 9:35 am

      I’m not sure I fully get the point here. Good teams supplement well constructed rosters with free agents. Most good teams are built through the draft and through shrewd trades. Look at Cleveland’s rotation: four of Top 5 were acquired in trade. Those guys were essentially given up by their original team. Same with Tampa’s top 2.

      • Djowen

        January 18, 2018 at 10:11 am

        I am not against trading at all. The O’s don’t go after the players that other teams want. We won’t take a chance on a 4 or 5 year contract for a pitcher at least partly because of Ubaldo. We signed him when no one else would. We bid against ourselves for Davis. There wasn’t much of a market for Trumbo. We wouldn’t give Markakis or Cruz a 4 year contract. I am just saying that we seldom go after a player that is in high demand from other teams. Every year we get a quote from DD that he is surprised at the price for pitching. I know that much of this comes from Angelos not liking to take risks that cost much. I am not saying that we need to go overboard, but until we take some risks on players in demand we won’t have a good shot at going far in the playoffs. When a team like the Twins can go after a Darvish we should be able to also.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 10:39 am

      I get your point. And it makes some sense. The problem is the players that are “in demand” are super costly. And if they don’t pan out it kills midmarket teams that don’t usually want to spend in that top echelon. Both Jimenez and Trumbo (and Cruz) were initially supposed to make roughly twice what they ended up with. So at point of purchase it wasn’t a bad financial move. But still a risk (especially in Jimenez’s case). The problem is free agency in its definition is fraught with risks. That’s why it is a foolish way to build a team.

      • bv22

        January 18, 2018 at 12:24 pm

        Then that’s why the O’s need to let go of their stance on no-opt out clauses. They should be open to the clauses as a way to get out of a bad contract.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      Opt-clauses don’t help you get out of bad contracts. Just good ones.

  7. Bancells Moustache

    January 18, 2018 at 9:30 am

    It increasingly looks to me like the Orioles are stuck in the last decade. The top teams now employ the new-age numbers driven front-offices led by some Ivy-League educated wunderkind. Those teams also seem to prefer a manager who will execute according to front-office game plan. The Orioles, on the other hand, roll out the old scouting driven model and take the field led by the celebrity manager in the Casey Stengal/Billy Martin mold. I’m a bit old school, but I can’t help but wonder if we are watching a bunch of F-22’s flying circles around a black and orange biplane.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 10:00 am

      I’m not sure you could call the Orioles scout-driven. In fact, Duquette has been increasingly relying on analytics and video scouting and economic valuations. Buck, though, is definitely more old school.

  8. bickel57

    January 18, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Dan do you think do nothing Duquette is trying to make this team terrible on purpose since he is in his walk year. I know the market is slow but come on that is a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time even for him. He has got to go after his contract is up. We need a more decisive GM. He doesn’t have to go to Angelos for everything only when it comes to big money contracts and big name player trades. That leaves a lot of room to do plenty

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 9:57 am

      Lemme just paraphrase your question. Is a guy whose contract is up and wants another job here or somewhere else is purposely tanking in the last year before finding that job? Doesn’t make too much sense, right?

    • PA Bird Lover

      January 18, 2018 at 10:25 am

      Why in the world would someone feel that’s the ideal way of dealing with a possible departure? Believe me, DD will be under contract for 2018 and beyond.

      • Dpsmith22

        January 19, 2018 at 9:53 am

        Better not be with the O’s.

  9. PA Bird Lover

    January 18, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Agree totally. It’s what I wrote the other day. This exact situation is in play almost every winter. I think PA wants to sign quality, but he also realizes the dollar and sense of it all. He’s against and rightly so, the ludicrous salaries of today’s players. He’s between a rock and a hard spot. He runs this club like a solid businessman, but really, to have a winner means running his team like government operates – spend spend spend – worry later!

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 10:44 am

      I always shrug when people say Angelos doesn’t want to win. That’s ludicrous. He’s a super competitive person. All mega-successful people are. The thing is he wants to win in a certain way with ideals he feels are important. In some instances they can be counterproductive to winning. (Back on my soapbox about international amateurs for instance.)

  10. Stacey

    January 18, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Just chiming in to say I miss Nelson Cruz.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      Hahahaha. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Dpsmith22

    January 18, 2018 at 11:31 am

    The O’s are in this mess because of 2 reasons.
    1) Duquette spent the money so poorly on pitchers, that not only was PA hesitant to sign one, now he is downright scared.
    2) Lack of foresight. Knowing what you know about PA and the free agent market, and that EVERYONE is looking for pitching, how could you possibly go into an off-season, needing 3 starters? It baffles me that they allowed this to happen.

    The “philosophy” that is so badly askew, is the one where they actually believe they have a chance this season.

    Ending on this:
    Teams that want to be competitive every year, that don’t have lots of money to spend, MUST trade SOME of their big name players BEFORE arbitration, to continue to bring kids up the pipeline. Painful truth.

    This organization is in big trouble again. Our light at the end of the tunnel, could be teams overpaying at the break for Machado and Britton.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      Dp: totally with you on that painful truth.

  12. Steve Cockey

    January 18, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    The problem is absolutely in the philosophy and the rigidity in which it’s enforced each year without adaptation. Always has been.

    Ownership isn’t cheap, as many fans like to proclaim. It’s where ownership directs and allows the money to be spent that’s the problem. Deferring to the baseball people has never been the rule of thumb, and that exists to this day, in my opinion.

    Who was the driving force behind the Chris Davis negotiations? Had baseball operations recommended another player in the $100m range other than Davis, or two players in the $75m range each, would the team have gone in another direction?

    What if the baseball folks want to spend a couple million dollars (or even a couple hundred thousand) on an international player they feel will make an impact?

    What if the GM wants to take a chance on a free agent with a spotty medical history, thinking the risk is worth the potential reward?

    What if baseball operations believes that much more money should fueled into hiring new scouts, the amateur draft, and the scouting/player development programs as a whole — rather than major-league payroll?

    What if the GM believes the best course for the organization is to sell a few ‘star players’ and restock young talent for the future?

    What if the GM needs to strike quickly on a signing/trade and doesn’t have time to deliberate or wait for various approvals?

    My opinion has always been that any Orioles GM always has at least one hand tied behind his back given the many organizational philosophies beyond his control. Nothing that’s happened this offseason or in the O’s recent history has made me think any differently.

    • Dpsmith22

      January 18, 2018 at 2:46 pm

      While I agree with much of what you wrote, there is no way we can blame ownership on the contracts given to Gallardo/Jimenez and the acquisition of Miley. Those 3 have been the bulk of the “worst rotation in Orioles HISTORY”. Those additions lie squarely on the shoulders of Dan Duquette.

      IMO the O’s got the expected result from those pitchers. Bad decisions like these are what is haunting the O’s. Add O’Day and Trumbo to that list.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      Damn, Steve. I’m supposed to be the writer here. Nicely worded.

    • thebookdoc

      January 19, 2018 at 7:10 am

      Steve, My first time visiting here, and not only is the reporting more interesting, but that was a great reply. I think I found a better place 😉

    • Steve Cockey

      January 19, 2018 at 8:43 am

      Really glad you found us, Doc. Welcome aboard.


    January 18, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    It’s been a long time since I’ve heard such pessism from Orioles fans. People fans are usually optimistic and hopeful and patient. There have been a number of underperforming players here who would have been booed out of Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston. But not in Baltimore.
    One of the reasons for that is all this Machado talk. Naive fans felt that he would be a lifelong Oriole. But we have never heard Machado say that he likes playing in Baltimore or how the fans have been good to him. There has been silence.
    In many ways, Machado is holding the organization hostage. We can’t pay anyone else a lot of money because he might be here.
    My opinion is there is a unified effort by the owners to keep salaries down. It may not be collusion but something is happening.
    That isn’t a good thing for Machado or Harper.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      That’s not true. FWIW, Machado has said repeatedly he loves Baltimore and its fans. I’ve heard it plenty. I can’t tell you what is in his head — or heart. But I can tell you what he had said publicly. He’s never been silent about that.

    • thebookdoc

      January 19, 2018 at 7:17 am

      Hold on…Are you saying the orioles fans on this forum/site are usually positive? It is my first time here, and where I was had crummy reporting, a terrible feedback system, and fans that were incessantly negative. This currently seems like the promised land.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 19, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Welcome aboard, Doc. And I wouldn’t say people here are usually positive. They are just reasonable. In the two years we have done this, I’m blown away by the conversations we have here. There’s no — or little — name-calling. No one-trick ponies. Just a group of well-informed commenters who genuinely like to debate points respectfully. I’m still waiting for the shoe to drop, but it has been fantastic.

  14. Dpsmith22

    January 18, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Hey Dan,

    “The only way that happens is if the market continues to gather frost and the panic happens on the other end, and free agents start to take lesser deals just to have jobs. If that does occur, the Orioles are in a good spot because that’s executive vice president Dan Duquette’s wheelhouse.”

    This isn’t true. With the amount of teams that will be fishing in these waters, it will not fall into Duquette’s world. It will be the same as every other free agent market, just later.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 3:00 pm

      Perhaps. I don’t think any of us know right now how many teams are truly angling.

      • Dpsmith22

        January 18, 2018 at 3:09 pm

        True. many teams are saving their pennies for next year’s crazy free agent class. Not to mention the whole “not trying to be competitive” mantra we keep hearing about. I don’t buy that one though. If it’s true, its MLB’s fault.

  15. Birdman

    January 18, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    I would say more a sense of disappointment and lack of hope than “panic” among fans. The Orioles appear headed on a downward trajectory back to the bad old days when they were perennial losers. Duquette may apply a few band-aids, but there simply does not appear to be a coherent long term plan, or sense of urgency on the part of ownership, to field a competitive team.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 3:01 pm

      To me the “panic” has been centered on doing nothing so far this offseason. It’s been more frantic this year — to me anyway — than in last few years.

      • Dpsmith22

        January 18, 2018 at 3:12 pm

        We are using the same “word” that our front office does when they continue to acquire AAAA and “never-were’s”, HOPE.

        Hope is not a strategy, its an excuse.

  16. 5brooks5

    January 18, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Well, I’m glad that Loyola tuition was well spent.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 18, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      University you are talking about, right?

  17. jco23

    January 25, 2018 at 8:43 am

    always enjoy your witty articles, Dan, thanks!

    I have a few theories on the reason why this offseason has been relatively quiet:
    – the big market teams are saving up for the Machado/Harper sweepstakes next year
    – GMs are actually trying to conscious of their budgets and realize that their legacy is tied more to finding diamonds in the rough rather over-paying the big fish
    – owner collusion

    secondly (and I plan to bring this up at the Q&A at the Fanfest on Saturday), how does a team that finished in last place expect to get better without making any changes?

  18. willpatten

    January 31, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    Duquette will be held responsible for the O’s record in 2018 but I think he’s done a really good job rebuilding our farm system. We have some exciting players now and many are pitchers.

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