Peter Schmuck’s Random Thoughts: Will this be another Orioles winter of discontent? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Peter Schmuck

Peter Schmuck’s Random Thoughts: Will this be another Orioles winter of discontent?

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Despite all the exciting regular-season wins and postseason honors the Orioles amassed this year, I can’t help but notice a stubborn undercurrent of cynicism among a certain segment of the Oriole fan base.

Social media is still littered with sarcastic posts about the unwillingness of ownership to spend what it might take to add a top-quality starting pitcher to the club’s young rotation or one more big bat to the starting lineup.

I suppose the Angelos family has earned a certain level of skepticism after all the years Oriole fans have spent wandering in the competitive wilderness, but if you’re going to spend the offseason grouching about what this team doesn’t have instead of continuing to celebrate this terrific group of young players and counting the days until spring training, you’re just cheating yourself.

Trust me, it doesn’t get much better than this.

In 1981, my first season covering the Los Angeles Dodgers (and only second season covering baseball full-time) was the most eventful and entertaining season of my career. It started with rookie pitcher Fernando Valenzuela’s season-opening string of eight straight complete-game victories and ended with the Dodgers rebounding from big deficits in three postseason series on the way to winning the World Series. I thought that kind of thing happened every year.

That’s the only time a team I covered as a beat writer won it all. If you want a better argument for enjoying the moment, Cal Ripken Jr. can probably tell you a similar story about 1983.

I believe this Orioles team will be in the playoffs regularly over the next decade. Whether they win the World Series in this new four-tiered postseason format will always be in question until they do.

In the meantime, carpe diem.

Good news, bad news

Don’t know about you, but I was pretty happy to see the Orioles offer arbitration to all of their eligible players. That’s at least a sign that they’re going to spend more money on the team in the near future.

It doesn’t mean, of course, that all of those players will still be on the team when spring training opens in just over two months.

Offering arbitration just means they will retain the rights to those players throughout the coming season, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be using some of them as trade bait during the upcoming Winter Meetings.

The big guy

Though it probably doesn’t fit with Mike Elias’s 2024 schematic, I think the Orioles should keep rightfielder Anthony Santander rather than package him with a prospect or two to get a pitcher.

Do they have legit outfield prospects to take his place? Yes, Heston Kjerstad and Colton Cowser appear to be ready and keeping Santander might block one of them, but Santander has been a huge part of the great team chemistry that has helped the O’s emerge as an AL East contender and champion over the past two years.

He’ll probably command about $12 million in his final arbitration year, but that’s chump change for a 30-homer, 90 RBI guy in today’s economic environment.

New lease or same old song and dance?

The clock continues to wind toward the December 31st expiration of the Orioles’ stadium lease, but The Baltimore Sun reported this week that the parties are leaning toward separating the “facilities use agreement” (a long-term lease) and negotiations over the team’s desire to acquire development rights for state-owned properties around the stadium.

The lease can still get the necessary governmental approvals in time to meet the end-of-the-year deadline. The development plan mentioned in the memorandum of understanding that was announced in September probably can’t.

Separating the two issues makes perfect sense, since the time for allaying the insecurity of Oriole fans is long past. If O’s CEO John Angelos was telling the truth when he said the Orioles would remain in Baltimore for as long as Fort McHenry is guarding the harbor, he has five weeks to prove it.

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