It's no time to panic

Faceoff

December 05, 2008|By Dan Connolly

There are several teams that like to make big splashes at the winter meetings. The Orioles aren't one of them. Traditionally, they haven't been. And with deliberate club president Andy MacPhail leading the charge, they likely won't be again next week.

And that's OK.

The Orioles have more holes than Augusta National. They need at least three starting pitchers, a conservative estimate. They also have no shortstop on the 40-man roster, meaning the David Ortiz-shift could be a permanent defensive alignment at Camden Yards in 2009.

They definitely need to make some moves to - at the least - field a team for next season. But it all doesn't have to happen at the winter meetings. They'll still have two months before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

If Orioles fans were given a dollar every time they heard club management utter the phrase "laying the groundwork" at the winter meetings, they could buy two and a half A.J. Burnetts plus one and a quarter Mark Teixeiras.

MacPhail said it countless times last year in Nashville, Tenn. - and sure enough, before the offseason ended he had dealt Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard.

The Orioles have to be busy next week, no doubt. They need to be aggressive with some free-agent pitchers. They need to explore all possibilities and consider all trade proposals, including the annual Brian Roberts winter-meeting Offerfest.

But making an official move in early December to prove to the fans you are working is silly. Some important dominoes will fall next week, but the majority of top free agents - especially Scott Boras' clients - don't usually sign for weeks or a month after the winter meetings.

So a headline-making transaction next week might be exciting, but making the right moves for the struggling organization throughout the winter is what's essential.

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