Orioles remain on the outside looking in as World Series begins - BaltimoreBaseball.com

World Series

Orioles remain on the outside looking in as World Series begins

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Last Friday was the 37th anniversary of the Orioles’ last World Series win. Since then, 26 of the 30 major league teams have played in the World Series. Only the Milwaukee Brewers (1982), Pittsburgh Pirates (1979) and Seattle Mariners, who’ve never appeared in a Series since their founding in 1977, have waited longer than the Orioles.

It’s been so long since the Orioles played in the World Series that executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias was 9 months old on October 16, 1983, the day the Series ended.

As a boy, Elias’ father took him to Orioles games at Camden Yards. Years later, he’s hoping to see some meaningful ones in the not-too-distant future.

Obviously, there’s no way to predict how far away the Orioles are from serious contention, perhaps two or three years if everything works well.

They’d love to be in the position of the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers, who will play in the first neutral-site World Series beginning Tuesday night in Arlington, Texas’ Globe Life Park.

In Elias’ two years in charge, he’s seen the Orioles go 11-18 against the Rays. Tampa Bay was the Orioles’ final home opponent this season, and the Rays won four in the five-game series.

Tampa Bay and Los Angeles are a fascinating contrast. The Dodgers have baseball’s second-highest payroll, and the Rays, the third lowest.

Los Angeles did the Orioles a favor this year when they traded for superstar outfielder Mookie Betts, who signed a record 12-year, $365 million contract extension.

Betts destroyed the Orioles in 2016 with the Red Sox when he had a 1.293 OPS, 9 homers, 21 RBIs and a .408 average against them. Two years later, he had a 1.221 OPS, 5 home runs, 13 RBIs and a .385 average in games against the Orioles.

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The Orioles can’t hope to be the Dodgers. They couldn’t afford a contract like Betts’ nor the three-year, $93 million extension paid to star pitcher Clayton Kershaw that runs through next season.

But there are some things Los Angeles does well that the Orioles are trying to do. The Dodgers draft well, even when they don’t have high picks.

Los Angeles has made the postseason eight straight years and haven’t had a first-round pick above No. 20, but still managed to draft starting pitcher Walker Buehler with the 24th selection in 2015, one slot ahead of DJ Stewart.

The Dodgers also grabbed catcher Will Smith (32nd pick in 2016) and promising infielder Gavin Lux (20th pick in 2016). In lower rounds, pitchers Tony Gonsolin (ninth round in 2016), Dustin May (third round in 2016) and infielder Edwin Rios (sixth round in 2015).

They’ve drafted well enough so that they were able to send the Orioles pitchers Dean Kremer (14th round in 2016), Zach Pop (seventh round in 2017) and infielder Rylan Bannon (eighth round in 2017) for Manny Machado in 2018.

The Rays have drafted and traded well, too. Outfielder Randy Arozarena was considered a throw-in when Tampa Bay acquired José Santiago from the St. Louis Cardinals in January.

Santiago fizzled with the Rays and was sent to the Chicago Cubs in August while Arozarena has starred in the postseason. Arozarena has 21 hits, including seven home runs, in 14 postseason games for Tampa Bay and, like the Orioles’ Ryan Mountcastle, remains a rookie for the 2021 season.

Pete Fairbanks, who has struck out 13 batters in 8 1/3 postseason innings, was acquired by the Rays in July 2019 from Texas for utilityman Nick Solak.

Trading for under-the-radar players such as Arozarena and Fairbanks are the kind of trades that Elias must make to get the Orioles into the postseason.

Andrew Friedman, who worked miracles in Tampa Bay’s front office, runs the Los Angeles Dodgers, and should Elias’ plan work as well in Baltimore as Friedman’s did with the Rays, it would be quite a coup.

World Series thoughts: The Dodgers-Rays matchup is an excellent one for fans. Many observers hadn’t made World Series predictions when training camps closed on March 12, but if someone made an early pick, this would have seemed entirely plausible.

A Braves-Dodgers NLCS and Astros-Rays ALCS would have been equally plausible predictions seven months ago.

In 2019, each of those teams played in the postseason, and while Houston qualified this year only because of the expanded field, the Astros’ narrow seven-game loss showed they were better than their 29-31 regular-season record.

MLB may be relieved that the Astros aren’t returning to the World Series, but a rematch of the 2017 World Series with the Dodgers might have been more appealing from a viewer’s standpoint.

During TBS’ telecasts of the ALCS, the electronic sign-stealing scandal got scant attention, but another Astros-Dodgers Series would have been can’t-miss TV.

This should be a competitive World Series, and I’d be surprised if it ended in fewer than six games.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. TxBirdFan

    October 20, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Interesting to learn the backgrounds of some of these players Rich! Very timely. I attended Game 7 on Sunday and there were a lot more Dodger fans than Braves fans in attendance. I’ll be rooting for the AL Rays when I go to WS game #3 on Friday. I’d rather be watching the O’s (or Rangers) but you don’t often get to WS games so I’m taking advantage of it being here in the Dallas area.

  2. Orial

    October 20, 2020 at 10:40 am

    Do you realize that StL has traded away Luke Voight and Randy Arozarena in the last 2 years? Ouch! Talk about the “anti” Tampa. Lotta pop. Being of the small to mid market I see the O’s hopefully going the direction of the2015-16 KC Royals(and of course Tampa Bay)–have young players come up and contribute right away, once they hit their prime and if they’re any good Boston,NY,LA will be lurking to snatch them up. I like the O’s present status and it’s nice to see the O’s in various periodicals being described as “up n coming/going in the right direction” not being laughed at any more.

    • Bancells Moustache

      October 20, 2020 at 11:15 am

      The Kansas City Royals consistently lost 90 games a year through the first half of the decade. In 2013 they won 86 games, in ’14 they won 89 games and lost the World Series then won the World Series in ’15. They then sunk below .500 twice before closing the decade back where they started, with 2 consecutive 100 loss seasons. I know it was nice to win a series in ’15, but that’s not acceptable to me. A constant cycle of 100 loss rebuilds followed by a couple years of competitiveness, then back to rebuild, rinse, repeat. In other words, the Royals gave their paying customers a quality baseball team for 3 out of 10 years the last decade. That’s garbage. Build a consistent winner.

  3. Bhoffman1

    October 20, 2020 at 11:38 am

    Arosarena was a throw in. He’s so young and talented he just couldn’t all of sudden blossom. How were his minor league stats. Rich where did Willy Adamas come from. He’s the kinda of player the O’s need. Talent and enthusiasm. Where did Zunnino come from. Low priced free agents like Choi and of course signing Morton . I like some of the guys Dugette drafted and I like the Manny trade now but I can never forgive him for signing Ubo and Cobb. They were rushed and not well thought out in my humble opinion

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 20, 2020 at 12:59 pm

      Bruce, Adames was part of the three-way trade the Rays made in 2014 to send David Price to the Tigers. Adames came from Detroit. Zunino was traded from Seattle to Tampa Bay in November 2018. Arozarena had excellent minor league stats. In 2019, he batted .344 with 15 home runs and 53 RBIs in Double-A and Triple-A. Instead of focusing on Jose Martinez as the Rays’ get in the trade, we probably should have been focused on Arozarena.

    • Bhoffman1

      October 20, 2020 at 2:31 pm

      Rich the Rays got a prospect for Martinez and I think he was optioned by the Cardinals after going hitless in 14 at bats. I know Friedman built this club but whoever took over is brilliant . Why the Cardinals would let go of Arosarena is really hard to fathom

    • Bhoffman1

      October 20, 2020 at 2:31 pm

      I mean the Cubs

  4. NormOs

    October 20, 2020 at 11:57 am

    The O’s could never afford a Betts or Kershaw? What would be the reason for that? Is there a budget? I don’t believe the O’s were always bottom feeders. They used to have Major Leaguers on the team. Now “they can’t afford them”. Why is that and whose fault is it? Is it the fans that don’t want to pay to see minor league people dressed up in major league uniforms? Rich, I know it’s not Q and A time but could you make an exception and try to answer any of these questions? (I don’t have a “twitter” account)

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 20, 2020 at 1:04 pm

      Norm, Betts will be paid between $22.9 and $35.4 million during the life of his contract. That’s for 12 years. There is a budget, and the Orioles have been a top 10 or top 12 spender in the recent past because their team was older. Of course, they could spend a huge part of their budget on one player. It just isn’t smart.

      The Orioles have a young team, and young players don’t make much money. They’re not going to pay huge money to a free agent in the near future.

      • NormOs

        October 20, 2020 at 2:31 pm

        Without free agents the O’s will not be able to compete. Waiver Wire and Rule 5 won’t get it done. You’ve got to spend to make. There must be a couple of players in the “Top 50 F As” that even the O’s can afford.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 20, 2020 at 2:54 pm

      Iglesias was a free agent. Now isn’t the time for free agents. Perhaps a year from now.

    • CalsPals

      October 20, 2020 at 6:24 pm

      I’ll say it again, it takes money to make money…go O’s…

  5. OriolesNumber1Fan

    October 20, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Hey Rich, forgot to mention outfielder Yusniel Diaz also acquired in the Manny Machado trade. No biggie.
    Anyway, from what I’ve read and heard, defensively Rylan Bannon doesn’t have quite the range for 2nd base but cut out more for third base. Problem is he’s not the power/home run hitter expected for a third baseman but is more the type of hitter for second base – more of a singles, doubles hitter. He kind of reminds me of former Orioles 2nd baseman Rich Dauer.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 20, 2020 at 6:27 pm

      The reason I didn’t mention Diaz was that he wasn’t a Dodgers draft choice, but an international free agent. I was attempting to make the point that L.A. has found uses for its draft choices in the trade market.

  6. OriolesNumber1Fan

    October 20, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    You’re right and it was a great point! The Dodgers can afford to trade some picks to obtain someone they really want. They also develop their picks and also do very well in their international free agent signings as well. They are a top notch organization.
    All of these are on the Orioles agenda now. We can thank the Angelos brothers for both being on the same page and hiring Mike Elias. And now his hirings he has made to improve the Orioles! Keep hearing great things from all their pitchers on Chris Holt and what he has done for them so far!!! And as we all know, pitching is a major part of the game of baseball. Mike Elias has drafted a lot of shortstops who are very athletic which should eventually help their defense as well.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      October 20, 2020 at 9:46 pm

      Oh thank you so much John and Louis Angelos, Without your hiring of Mr. Elias, where would this proud team be? Thank you, thank you, so very much. All hail Mike Elias and the Angelos brothers!

    • CalsPals

      October 21, 2020 at 1:23 pm

      🙂

  7. WorldlyView

    October 21, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    I think rosy optimism about the short-term outlook for the team’s performance is based solely on wishful thinking, not facts or realistic analysis. Hoping that large numbers of prospects will yield several outstanding players is just that–hope.
    The pessimists, for now, have got it right. But in three years, if things go ridiculously right, the O’s might have a winning record. If that happens, the pessimists might have to admit to having been too negative in estimating when the light at the end of the tunnel would appear. In the meantime, the best I can hope to do is to keep a stiff upper lip in the face of baseball adversity.

    • CalsPals

      October 21, 2020 at 4:53 pm

      & hope the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train…go O’s…

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