O's stand pat rather than deal

Team ends its trend of making July 31 trades

August 01, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The non-waiver deadline passed yesterday with the Orioles not extending their reach beyond the farm system.

In their only roster move, the Orioles activated Chris Richard from the 60-day disabled list and removed him from an injury rehab assignment at Triple-A Rochester. Other teams scrambled to complete deals under the wire.

The Orioles chose to ignore it.

Syd Thrift, vice president for baseball operations, said he spoke with representatives from every club during the past two weeks. Some discussions have been tabled until the winter, when the Orioles expect to be most active.

"Nothing earth-shattering happened today, did it?" Thrift said during a conference call with reporters.

"We had conversations, but they really were not of any significance because we couldn't find anything to match up to what we believe the value of our players are. And some players we don't want to talk about at all."

Contending teams expressed interest in starters Scott Erickson, Sidney Ponson and Jason Johnson, and Thrift mentioned reliever Buddy Groom, 37, who signed a two-year extension this spring.

"They were just checking to see if my sanity still exists," he said.

Noting how the Atlanta Braves held onto their young arms during the late 1980s and flourished the next decade, Thrift listed Ponson, Rodrigo Lopez, Rick Bauer, Willis Roberts, B.J. Ryan, Jorge Julio and catcher Geronimo Gil as "basic fundamental foundation people of the future."

"You can't trade those younger people," he said. "You've got to build what you have, and I think everybody recognizes that."

Yesterday marked the first time in five years that the Orioles didn't make a deal on July 31, the last day teams can trade players without having them first clear waivers. Last summer, they barely beat the deadline by acquiring Gil and pitcher Kris Foster from the Los Angeles Dodgers for reliever Mike Trombley.

"You can look at it either way," said second baseman Jerry Hairston. "We've done well with what we've got. Scratch off the last three or four nights, and we've played extremely well. With the new guys we've got, you see a lot of bright spots."

In 2000, the Orioles swung five deals between July 28 and 31 while retooling their roster and attempting to add depth to their farm system.

Having dropped seven games below .500 before last night, they were hoping that improvement this season would come with the return of three injured position players - Jeff Conine, Mike Bordick and David Segui.

"I really would like to see this team with all of its parts and see where we really are," Thrift said.

Manager Mike Hargrove wasn't anticipating any trades from the Orioles, so having the deadline pass quietly didn't faze him.

"I know Syd was working the phones extensively but there really wasn't anything imminent," he said. "I don't think it's imperative for us to try to do something this season. I think it's more imperative to keep an eye out for the long-term future of this ballclub, whether that's next year or whenever.

These things will probably be addressed in the off-season, which is a better time to do it."

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