Baltimore Orioles: The Week that Kept Getting Worse


Aug 3, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Andrew Miller (48) pitches in the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Mariners 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

It was a 1-2-3 strikes and you’re out sort of week for the Baltimore Orioles. First it was the signing of Nelson Cruz by the Mariners, secondly it was Nick Markakis going to the Braves, and Friday it was Andrew Miller ending up with the Yankees for four years at $36 Million.

But here is another side of things: Unsuccessful teams are filled with lousy players that nobody else wants. Winning teams are comprised of successful players who become free agents, and lots of people want them.

However, here in Baltimore, we’re just not used to see our guys getting picked off and picked up by other teams. But this is a byproduct of winning, and it is a whole lot better place to be than where the O’s were for 14 years before 2012.

I have already weighed in with opinions on Nelson Cruz and with Nick Markakis signing elsewhere. If you did not read that brilliant analysis, check it out by clicking on the links. But in both cases I pretty much said that the terms and lengths of the contracts are going to be longer than the effectiveness of the players relative to the costs.

One day later and news breaks of Markakis opting for neck surgery. Portrayed as not that big of a deal, the recovery is 8-12 weeks and he’ll be ready for the beginning of the season. Yes, but, his troubled season of 2013 followed a winter of recovery and lack of ability to follow a workout regimen such as what brought him renewed success in 2014.

Andrew Miller to the Yanks was the worst news of the week.

Weighing in now on Andrew Miller … to me, this is the worst news of the week for the Orioles. It is not as if I ever really thought that the Birds were actually going to sign him. I just hoped he would end up with the Dodgers or elsewhere in the National League. The only worse news (maybe) would be if he had returned to the Red Sox.

At this point of the offseason, it would appear that the aggressive moves and additions made by Boston have bought and brought them back into contender status. That could well be. Every year we expect the Yankees to roll over and die, but they never quite do. Somehow they keep breathing and keep hanging around. It’s annoying in the extreme!

The Andrew Miller signing helps them hang around some more. No, the names in the lineup they send to the plate are not impressive or scary, at least not in 2014 or 2015 (so far as we can see). But if their starters get healthy, there is a lot of talent in that group. And getting Miller, and pairing him with Dellin Betances is a frightening prospect for AL East teams and all who play against the Yankees. And unlike the first two losses for the O’s this week, I expect Miller to pay off for NY for the full four years of the deal.

I have written previously in this column that Betances is in my estimation the very best arm in baseball. He won’t be a free agent until 2020. If the Yankees were to bolt to also bring back David Robertson … well, forget about the KC bullpen. And talk about making games into six-inning affairs!

Regarding Miller’s decision to go to the Yankees, numerous reports seemed to indicate that it was not actually the highest bid – that perhaps the Astros offered $40 million. But in a phone interview with Ken Rosenthal, Miller spoke of a broader attraction, including being able to be home in Tampa longer each spring where the Yankees train.

"In the total package, there were things that the Yankees could offer me that no one else could. I live in Tampa. That’s two months at home that I don’t have otherwise … I love pitching in the AL East. I know you don’t hear that every day, but the best I have ever pitched is in that division.  I know the ballparks. I know the teams."

And regarding the choice to play with the Yankees …

"You don’t have to sell me on their plan. I know every year it’s unacceptable for them to do anything but win the World Series. I’ve been around that the last couple of years. I haven’t gotten it done yet."

Well, to Miller I’d say, “I can see why you made the choice you have, but here in Baltimore you’ll have to forgive us for hoping you still don’t have the chance to ‘get it done.’”

More from Baltimore Orioles

So it was tough week in Baltimore. But the Orioles did not commit to spend $137 million over the next four years, and in 2018 we may look back at this week as a good one in local baseball history.