Subtracting Bonilla is plus for O's

November 17, 1996|By KEN ROSENTHAL

So, the Orioles got nothing for Bobby Bonilla. Who cares?

The Bonilla trade was a winner.

L And the decision to make him a free agent was a winner, too.

Bonilla helped the Orioles return to the postseason, but his dismal performance in the playoffs showed that he's incapable of taking them to the next level.

He served his purpose.

Now the Orioles can take the $5 million they would have paid him, and add two or three players.

What did they give up?

Not as much as it initially appeared.

Alex Ochoa doesn't look as if he's going to become an impact player with the New York Mets. And Damon Buford still hasn't proved he can play every day in Texas.

Yes, the Orioles have traded too many prospects in recent years, depleting the farm system, damaging the organization.

The Bonilla trade was Exhibit A in that trend.

But Ochoa was not the answer.

He isn't the five-tool talent so many scouts projected. In fact, he's bordering on a disappointment. He hit only four homers in 282 at-bats last season. He's also prone to defensive lapses.

The Mets believe he can still develop into a productive major-league player, but probably not much more. The young outfielders the Orioles kept, Jeffrey Hammonds and Mark Smith, are not even that far along.

So, the outfield next season could be Brady Anderson in left, Darryl Hamilton in center and B. J. Surhoff in right -- possibly a defensive upgrade at every position.

Bonilla's power will be missed, but he went 4-for-35 in the postseason, dropping his career postseason average to .190.

The Orioles needed him.

Now they can do without him.

Free swings

L * And so it has come to this: Welcome back, Antonio Langham.

* Villanova coach Steve Lappas can't be happy that Mark Karcher postponed his college decision. It could cost him not only the best player in Baltimore, but also the best player in

Philadelphia, Marvin O'Connor.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported that once Karcher made his oral commitment to Villanova, Lappas told O'Connor that it no longer would be fair to recruit him, because he and Karcher played the same position.

Unlike Karcher, O'Connor is fully qualified academically, and Villanova reportedly was his top choice. Now Lappas is in a bind. Should he continue to recruit Karcher or turn his attention back to O'Connor?

* You can't criticize the Orioles on the radio; you can't wave anti-Mark Duffner signs at Maryland. Thank goodness we live in a free and open society.

* Evander Holyfield is Michael Johnson's leading competition for Sportsman of the Year. But he should retire now, or his upset of Mike Tyson could prove his undoing.

* So, Maryland Stadium Authority chairman John Moag sidles up at a party the other night and says some of his friends are wondering when your friendly local columnist is going to write he stole the wrong team.

You begging, pal?

* Same occasion, Ravens owner Art Modell strolls to the mike to introduce his No. 1 draft pick. Modell gives him the big buildup, then announces him as "Jonathan Logan."

Logan, Ogden, they're both cities in Utah.

Is Art getting ready to move again?

* Mike Bordick can't be a free agent; Carlos Garcia just got traded to Toronto. The number of options to replace Cal Ripken is dwindling, so expect the Orioles to make a push for free-agent shortstop Shawon Dunston.

Kevin Elster isn't the answer, and the Orioles have little to trade for Walt Weiss. It could turn out that Ripken will open the season at short, with the team continuing to explore its options. There's no sense forcing this move.

* Can the Ravens cover the 12-point spread in San Francisco? Still waiting to hear from the experts at Boston College.

* First, the word was that Mike Mardesich couldn't play. Now it turns out he can play, but doesn't want to play. Maryland finally gets a 7-footer, then has to redshirt him. Beautiful.

It's time to name that buffoon:

"We're going a different route this year. I'm letting [my GM] run it and make all the moves he wants. All I'm doing is setting up a budget for him. I'm going to be less involved in the moves.

"I'm getting old and tired. I'm going to be a less active owner. I think [my GM] is doing an excellent job, and if I can help him with any of my 23 years of expertise, then I will."

Thank you, George Steinbrenner.

* Juwan Howard apologized for his DWI arrest immediately, but what if he had injured or killed someone?

Everyone makes mistakes, but this wasn't a mere traffic violation. This was a serious lapse in judgment by a supposedly responsible adult, and let's not hear anymore about Howard being only 23.

If he was disciplined enough to earn a $105 million contract with the Bullets, then he's disciplined enough to know the dangers of drunken driving.

* It's all Jon Miller's fault.

Pub Date: 11/17/96

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