O's intend to release Anderson

Club VP Thrift says longtime Oriole, 37, will go before Nov. 20

Trade is still a possibility

Thrift: `You have to do a lot of things you don't want to do'

November 15, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Barring discovery of a willing trade partner, the Orioles intend to release outfielder Brady Anderson before firming their 40-man roster on Nov. 20, vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift said yesterday.

The Orioles have entered trade talks with at least one club, according to Thrift, who also noted that Anderson's agents have told him the former All-Star would waive his blanket no-trade protection. "I haven't seen or heard a dissenting vote," Thrift said.

To facilitate a trade, the Orioles are willing to assume a portion of Anderson's $4 million salary for next season. The club's immediacy is heightened by an overcrowded major-league roster that must be submitted to Major League Baseball by Tuesday.

"I think you have to do a lot of things you don't want to do -- or really don't like to do -- but you have to do," Thrift said.

Short of Cal Ripken, Anderson represents the Orioles' most charismatic figure and one of its most productive figures of the past decade. He set the franchise record with 50 home runs in 1996, five seasons after stealing 51 bases. He is also the Orioles' only remaining player with sufficient service time -- at least five years with the same team and 10 years within the same league -- to veto any trade. At the same time, the Orioles are committed to furthering a clubhouse renovation after suffering their fourth consecutive losing season for the first time in team history.

"We not only have a 40-man roster problem, we have a Triple-A roster problem," Thrift said. "We've never had anything like that since I've been here."

Thrift said he notified one of Anderson's representatives, Rick Thurman, on Monday of the club's position. Anderson could not be reached for comment last night.

The trade or release of Anderson represents the latest and perhaps most dramatic step by the Orioles to pursue an organizational renovation. Ripken's retirement coupled with Anderson's departure and the likely exit of free-agent reliever Alan Mills would leave the Orioles with only two ties to their 1997 AL East championship -- shortstop Mike Bordick and starting pitcher Scott Erickson, both of whom ended last season on the 60-day disabled list.

Anderson, 37, is approaching the final season of a five-year, $31 million contract signed after the '97 season. Though able to construct a solid year in 1999 -- .282, 24 home runs, 81 RBIs, 36 stolen bases and a .404 on-base percentage -- Anderson has since been hampered by inconsistency and injuries.

Anderson's playing time diminished last season while he struggled to a .202 average with eight home runs and 45 RBIs. He was also displaced as the team's leadoff hitter, a role he long savored. Anderson wondered publicly before the Orioles' final game whether it would be his last in Baltimore.

The Orioles are expected to pursue an outfielder and a leadoff hitter in this winter's free-agent market. Whether they are able to reconstruct an image after losing their two most visible players is incidental, according to Thrift.

"I think the most important thing is winning. I think when you win, you have to have players who produce. When players produce, they create their own image. They build their own future," Thrift said. "They become All-Stars. If they become All-Stars long enough, they become Hall of Famers. You just have to wait and see what evolves from all of this. I think some very good teams have solid players, but they don't have one player who is a Cal Ripken, or someone like that."

The Orioles have contemplated trading Anderson for two seasons but never achieved a suitable match. Thrift contacted Anderson's agents several times during the 2000 season seeking a waiver of his no-trade protection. It was never granted as Anderson insisted he be allowed to approve or veto a trade individually. He was never presented any such deal.

Thrift suggested yesterday he has cultivated interest from at least one team but wouldn't predict a trade, saying, "I never know what anybody else is going to do for sure. I can't forecast that."

Affected by possible contraction and an uncertain labor climate, teams have shown a reluctance to take on significant salaries, especially for a player in apparent decline.

"The problem everywhere I go is money. Every person I talk to in baseball, they say the same thing: They can't take on any more money. That creates a problem," Thrift said.

Thrift said he hasn't spoken directly to Anderson but hopes to before teams are required to submit their 40-man rosters next week. He insists the club's decision has not been an easy one. "Everything is tougher when a person you know gives 100 percent every day and is supportive of what we're doing and gave us encouragement. I've been a pro-Brady man for a long, long time -- before I got here," Thrift said.

NOTE: Orioles pitcher John Parrish has been ordered to stand trial on charges of drunken driving, careless driving and driving with an expired registration last month in Lancaster, Pa. Parrish, a 23-year-old left-hander, did not testify and will be formally arraigned on the charges in December. He split last season with Baltimore and Triple-A Rochester, going 1-2 with a 6.14 ERA for the Orioles.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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