Even with money to spend, Orioles unlikely to cash in on any free agents

September 12, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

THE ORIOLES should have money to spend this winter, but the basic economic principle of supply and demand is going to work against them in what's shaping up to be a thin free-agent market.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko would be a perfect fit for a team that is crying for a big-time power hitter to place between Miguel Tejada and Javy Lopez at the heart of the batting order, but persuading him to leave a playoff team to help the Orioles look themselves in the mirror in the morning could be a very expensive proposition.

The same probably goes for anyone good enough to upgrade the starting rotation. A.J. Burnett will command about $10 million a year (a number that made Orioles owner Peter Angelos dive under his desk at midseason), and solid right-hander Matt Morris would need some persuading to bolt a perennial winner in St. Louis to help the Orioles try to break what's about to become a string of eight straight losing seasons.

Personally, I'd like to see the team make a run at Angels left-hander Jarrod Washburn, but he's leaning toward staying in Anaheim or playing close to home in Milwaukee. He's also represented by Scott Boras, which is always considered an obstacle by the Orioles.

Whom are we kidding, anyway? The way things are going, the first two months of the offseason will be spent figuring out which nameplates to put on which office doors in the B&O warehouse - and then it"ll just be a matter of picking up the scraps left by the Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox.

Think I'm joking? This is a team that's still trying to figure out whether it should make a donation to hurricane relief. (It has only been two weeks.) Can't wait to hear this year's excuse for failing to make any expensive improvements during the offseason.

Let me guess: We won't be able to determine our free-agent budget until we know whether we"re going to have to pay Sidney Ponson for next year. Yeah, that's the ticket.

The Ravens committed $660,000 to the Red Cross over the past week and were poised to match all contributions from fans entering M&T Bank Stadium last night.

The total contribution from the Ravens and their affiliated charitable foundations should surpass $1 million, while the Orioles have deferred any decision until after Angelos returns from Europe.

I'm fairly certain Angelos will step up in a big way, but the team's indecisiveness led to this sarcastic comment from a well-known local broadcaster last night in the Ravens" press box: 'The Orioles are the only major sports franchise that reacted to the disaster slower than FEMA."

Apparently, Patrick Ramsey's luck is holding, and that isn't a good thing. The clothesline tackle by linebacker Lance Briggs ended his afternoon early, and Mark Brunell did just enough against the stubborn Chicago Bears defense to make this a very interesting week at Redskins Park.

It's going to be a big week at The Hayfields, where the Constellation Energy Classic kicks off today with the celebrity pro-am. I caddied for Bruce Fleischer during one of last year's pro-am events and learned a lot about golf (most importantly, that there's a reason God created motorized carts).

Thought I did such a great job that they"d invite me back, but I heard through the grapevine that someone took issue with my attempt to rake one of the bunkers while Bruce was still in it.

If you didn't read Rick Maese's column in yesterday's paper about the Ocean Springs (Miss.) High School football team coping with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, go back and find yesterday's sports section or go to Sports on our Web site (baltimoresun.com) and click on Rick.

Heart-wrenching. Heart-warming. Truly outstanding. If the kid can write like this now, it's scary to think how good he's going to be when he grows up.

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