Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Byrds

Cuing off Rob's post centered around Mike Lowell, I just can't resist. We are good enough about issuing mea culpas when we blow it around here to throw in a "we told you so" now and again.

This is the type of thing that makes the Peter Angelos Era Orioles the laughingstock of baseball for the last decade...

Remember two years ago when the Orioles were set to acquire AJ Burnett from the Marlins? The Fish were prepared to take:

Hayden Penn (2007 Update: Still stuck on the DL of the beloved Norfolk Tides)

Larry Bigbie (2007 Update: just Friday this news came up -- "Outfielder Larry Bigbie exercised his escape clause and was granted his release from Triple-A Las Vegas. Among the possible destinations for him are Oakland and Japan.")

and

Jorge Julio (if you need an update, you haven't been with us long here)

Florida was willing to part with Burnett for this dreck; all the O's had to do was also take Mike Lowell. At the time, Mike Lowell was hitting about .230 with no power, a complete reversal from a number of highly productive years prior. And his steep contract ($9M/yr) runs through this year. The Orioles, who'd foolishly overpaid for the likes of Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Sammy Sosa, and a slew of others, decided not to pull the trigger. And when I say "the Orioles," I mean Peter Angelos. According to the Washington Post, Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan wanted the deal, but he nixed it. Add "short-sighted simpleton" to the long list of epithets hurled his way in this space.

Now, Rob and I were more familiar with Lowell's upside than most because he was on our rotisserie squad (I believe he has a ring), but it didn't take that much of a crystal ball to see there was just as much chance that Lowell might revert to form as not. We both agreed that Baltimore was crazy to balk at the Lowell inclusion; rather, Lowell could well rebound and it'd get Melvin Mora back to the OF. (Mora was booting balls galore that year at 3B). It was so worth the risk to get Burnett.

The strange outcome: The Marlins dealt Lowell to the Sox that offseason with Josh Beckett for decidedly more stellar returns. And Lowell arguably has outperformed Burnett over the past couple of years, though his Gold Glove third-base work (oddly lost in the discussions of his fading bat skills in 2005) has somehow evaporated this year.

The predictable outcome: At the time of the deal discussion, the O's were 50-42, half a game out of first place, and hungry for actual contention for the first time in eight years. After Angelos ever-so shrewdly declined, the team went 1-14, Lee Mazzilli was canned, and the Orioles spiraled down to a 74-88 finish, 21 games behind the Yankees. Then 70-92 last year. Under .500 this year so far. And the Angeleno Curse continues to thrive.

Would the trade have saved the Baltimore franchise, or even their 2005 season? Would it at least have sent a positive message to players, fans, and the league? Is hindsight 20/20? Is Peter Angelos still seeing things at a steady 20/800 clip? If firing Davey Johnson was his Russian Invasion, how far off is his St. Helena? Do we talk too much about karma at Misery Loves Company? Do we even understand true karmic principle? Do the teachings of Dharmic religion actually apply to major league baseball? And more importantly, has there ever been a cover medley called "Instant Karma Chameleon Police"?¿?¿?

1 comment:

rob said...

i think that, by definition, using motherfucker as a modifier of karma implies that we've appropriated the term for our own use.