Anderson meal deal is delicious

December 07, 1997|By KEN ROSENTHAL

Peter Angelos and Brady Anderson have enjoyed each other's dinner company for weeks, but now they finally can break out the champagne.

L Waiter, please bring the check, and hand it to Mr. Anderson.

It's time he picked up the tab.

Angelos did the honors at Little Italy's Boccaccio, the Harbor Court Hotel and everywhere else these two dined in Baltimore during Anderson's contract negotiations, according to Outside Pitch magazine.

"I'm older," Angelos would say. "I have to pay."

Well, the owner is still older, and he's still wealthier, but for $31 million, the least he can get is a free meal.

Cal Ripken, Mike Mussina and now Anderson.

Angelos kept all three.

A five-year contract is too long for a center fielder who turns 34 next month, but who cares?

Based on his market value, Anderson probably deserved close to the same money over four years, with an average salary of $7.75 million.

As it stands, his contract still isn't as lucrative as Jay Bell's, but enough of these silly millionaire comparisons.

Anderson joined the Orioles in 1988. He wanted to stay. Angelos wanted to keep him. Bring the dessert menus, and order the coffee.

The Anderson signing won't assure the Orioles of a third straight postseason berth, not if Scott Kamieniecki is the No. 4 starter and Armando Benitez is the closer.

But at least Orioles fans will recognize their team.

That won't be the case in Florida, site of the first annual World Series yard sale. Nor will it be the case in Cleveland, where the reward for October heroics is a free trip to Arizona.

Brian Anderson and Matt Williams already are members of the expansion Diamondbacks, and the Indians also might part with Marquis Grissom if they re-sign Kenny Lofton, a player they traded nine months ago.

Increased player movement is one of the game's many ills, but Angelos recognizes the importance of keeping his signature players, and he's able to afford them.

And let's get right down to it:

He needed a win.

Losing Anderson on top of Davey Johnson and Randy Myers would have been catastrophic for the franchise, both on the field and in the community.

The Orioles' front office, perhaps mindful of the Chris Hoiles albatross, opposed giving Anderson a fifth year. But in the end, Angelos caved, and so did Anderson.

The word "sacrifice" isn't exactly appropriate when you're talking about $31 million, but like Mussina and Ripken before him, Anderson is taking less money to stay in Baltimore.

Each of his first four years includes $1.5 million in deferred payments. He's also receiving a lower annual salary than Ripken, assuring that the republic will stand for another day.

Angelos can thank Anderson for compromising his negotiating position by saying that he only wanted to play for the Orioles.

And Anderson can thank Angelos for adding the fifth year, enabling both sides to avoid a nasty battle in arbitration.

The fallout?

Cleveland general manager John Hart almost certainly will attempt to use the Anderson contract to drive down Lofton's price.

And agent Scott Boras probably will scream that Bernie Williams still deserves $11 million, blah, blah, blah.

Everyone can relax -- the Orioles' below-market contracts are viewed as isolated cases, and the Mussina deal certainly didn't prevent the market for pitching from spiraling.

Which brings us to the Orioles' rotation.

Kamieniecki's two-year, $6.2 million contract with an option wasn't exactly a bargain, especially if the Orioles intended to make him their fifth starter.

But that isn't the plan.

Assistant GM Kevin Malone said last night that the Orioles will attempt to sign a modestly priced free agent as the No. 5, and make Nerio Rodriguez the long reliever.

1% If that fails, Rodriguez could be

the fifth starter.

"We thought there might be some trade possibilities, but right now the supply is so limited, we're focusing more on the free-agent route," Malone said.

The Orioles wanted free-agent right-hander Willie Blair, but they apparently offered him a two-year deal with an option for less money than Kamieniecki.

Blair signed a three-year, $11.5 million deal with Arizona yesterday, a ridiculous amount for a pitcher who was 25-41 before winning 16 games for Detroit last season.

Still, the Orioles need one more starter.

Mussina, Scott Erickson, Jimmy Key and Kamieniecki were the top four last season, and the Orioles advanced to the American League Championship Series.

However, manager Ray Miller made it clear that the rotation was dangerously thin, and now he lacks Myers -- the team MVP last season -- at the back end of his bullpen.

Whatever, those are problems for another day.

Brady Anderson is an Oriole through 2002.

Table for the dine-amic duo!


Pub Date: 12/07/97

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