Millwood Should Be Appetizer, Not Whole Meal

December 16, 2009|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Let's begin with a simple question: How many of you are wildly excited about what the Orioles have done this offseason?

How many of you look at the current Orioles roster and get all tingly about the team's chances to compete in the American League East next season?

Right. That's what I thought.

So pardon me if I don't start hyperventilating over the Kevin Millwood deal like my buddy and fellow columnist Peter Schmuck.

Schmuck, you'll recall, went off to the winter meetings in Indianapolis last week and made it seem as if all of Orioles Nation - which is now the size of your average 12-step support group - was aglow with anticipation over the club's offseason moves.

But here's the bottom line: It's the middle of December, a time when most teams like to get their rosters settled for next year.

And the Orioles still haven't signed a quality first baseman. They still haven't signed a quality third baseman, either.

And they still don't have the big slugger needed in the middle of their lineup to avoid being roadkill again for the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays.

Andy MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations, has spoken confidently about upgrading the offense this offseason.

But guess what? It still hasn't happened.

And unless the Orioles think they'll get enough home run power from Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Luke Scott next year - in which case, they're nuts - they had better land a big bopper, pronto.

Understand, I have no problem with the Millwood deal.

But Millwood, the 35-year-old right-hander acquired from the Texas Rangers, is a middle-of-the-rotation guy, or even a back-of-the-rotation guy, on a solid pitching staff.

If you're the Orioles, you hope he wins 12 to 15 games. And you do cartwheels around the Warehouse if he wins more.

Sure, he's an upgrade. And, sure, you stick him at the top of your rotation so Jeremy Guthrie doesn't start to lose it by the middle of May, when the pressure of being the No. 1 starter makes him crack.

But Millwood's probably not going to make THAT much difference in where the Orioles finish next season.

So it's time for MacPhail to pull the trigger on a big deal that energizes the dwindling Orioles fan base and gives it some hope for next season.

Look, the rest of the AL East is not exactly standing pat this offseason.

The Yankees acquired Curtis Granderson, the terrific outfielder and leadoff hitter, from Detroit in a three-team trade. (Because, c'mon, who's going to be content to win only 27 World Series?)

And the Red Sox signed free-agent outfielder Mike Cameron and have a tentative deal with John Lackey, who was only the best pitcher on the free-agent market.

Now it's time for the Orioles to make some headlines - way past time, really.

And here's the first thing they should do: Go get Adrian Gonzalez, the San Diego Padres' slugging first baseman.

The Padres are willing to part with him, since he has only two years left on his contract and they're not sure they can afford to re-sign him, especially with so many other holes to fill.

But the guy's a terrific player. He hit 40 homers and drove in 99 runs last year. Over the past four seasons, he has hit 130 homers and driven in 400 runs. And he's a two-time Gold Glove Award winner at first.

Did I mention he's only 27? In short, he's everything the Orioles desperately need.

Now they should go get him. No excuses. They should sign this guy and give their long-suffering fans an early Christmas present.

MacPhail keeps saying he doesn't want to trade top prospects to fill holes in the Orioles' lineup.

Oh, yeah? Why not?

Is there some sort of secret baseball commandment that forbids it?

The Orioles have plenty of prospects to deal, especially pitching prospects. And, remember: That's all they are at the moment: prospects.

How often do you have a chance to land an established superstar like Gonzalez?

Me - because I'm greedy as hell and sick of watching meaningless baseball at Camden Yards in August and September - I'd try to package a deal and land Padres third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff at the same time.

The Padres are deep at that position. And Kouzmanoff, who's only 28, has some pop in his bat (59 homers, 246 RBIs over the past three seasons) and is considered an adequate fielder.

How sweet would a deal like that be for this town?

If the Orioles are serious about winning back their fans, they should make it happen.

Time to pull the trigger, boys. Time to get wild and crazy at the Warehouse.

Unless you want to see even more empty seats at Camden Yards next spring.

Listen to Kevin Cowherd on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.

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