Baltimore Orioles: The Value of a Happy Clubhouse


Feb 25, 2015; Sarasota, FL, USA; Players emerge from the clubhouse during Baltimore Orioles spring training workouts at

Ed Smith

Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It was at the annual FanFest event that preceded the Baltimore Orioles 2012 season that I was first struck by the nature of the O’s clubhouse culture. Clearly, this was a group of guys who really liked each other and enjoyed being together.

Most of the time, out here if Fan World, we only get to see the players one at a time in interviews. We’re not in the clubhouse, even though we get pictures of it from the beat writers.

But seeing a group of the players together at the same time at FanFest gives the everyday follower of the team a rare look at the interactions that happen between the various Orioles personalities. And it is evident that it is a generally happy group (unlike another group on a team about 50 miles away).

How far does this go toward success on the field? It is one of those intangibles that defies any real measurement. And though once in a while there will be a team who has great talent and succeeds, even though the players don’t like each other much, most of the time, dissention in the clubhouse will yield negative results on the field as the cancer grows.

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Other than one or two outspoken players like Adam Jones, the Orioles as a group are a rather introspective and mellow group of individuals. They are not quick to wear a lot of emotions on their sleeves, which is honestly a good asset for a baseball player. So we are not going to hear much said about something like the loss of Nick Markakis — a player by all descriptions spoken of as being a clubhouse leader. No, most O’s players are quick to acknowledge that baseball is, at the end of the day a business, and they simply wish their friend well in his new location.

But several of the beat writers have said that the Orioles clubhouse has quietly “seethed” this year about the loss of Markakis. Baseball results aside (as to how much of a difference he would have made in the final record for 2015), it left a bad feeling with many players about the sad nature of the business side of the sport.

Though there is no doubt that both Markakis and Nelson Cruz would have made the Orioles a better team this year, likely even a playoffs team, I am still not ready to conclude that letting them both go was a bad deal for the Orioles organization. For the first 25% of those deals, yes, it looks bad so far … but that is not surprising. We’ll see what it looks like later.

But here’s the caveat with this: the dollars saved last year were done so that it did not bury the team in a debt hole from which the budget would disallow future moves with other free agents. And that future is now dawning. OK, Cruz and Markakis are gone and the money was saved. I’m willing to continue to support that as wise in the big picture … IF … if now a chunk of that money is used to keep Chris Davis, Darren O’Day, etc., along with gaining a top-end starter. If the six O’s free agents all are gone with nothing but marginal players secured for the future, I’ll be ready to use this forum to rant along with fans who believe the Orioles are just too cheap to put out a consistent winner.

Next: Chris Davis ends season with a big loud note

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