Sports Outside the Beltway

Jay Payton and the State of the Orioles

Yes Orioles fans, your team is ahead of the Yankees, the Blue Jays and the Devil Rays, one game behind the front running Red Sox. Yet it is April and the season is a long hard slog. But when your squad has not found the postseason in a decade, you celebrate the little victories.

Soccer Dad knows of what I speak.

This comment reported in today’s Washington Post, though must terrify serious as well as casual O’s fans.

Payton’s presence gives the team more versatility. As the Orioles shopped around for another outfielder this offseason, Payton was, “exactly what we were looking for,” vice president Jim Duquette said. He can play anywhere in the outfield or bat anywhere in the lineup. As he showed Sunday, he can lead off, and last season in Oakland he batted behind Frank Thomas for protection.

The mere idea that Payton, with a career rate stat line of .285/.330/.439. OPS+ is a state that compares a players OPS to the league average. Payton on his career has an OPS+ of 99 – a tick below average. Which Jim Duquette says is “exactly what [they] were looking for.”

If Baltimore needed an outfielder to go alongside Corey Patterson and Nick Markakis, wouldn’t Carlos Lee, a big bopper to hit behind Miguel Tejada be a good fit, and exactly what the Orioles might need. At least Lee, with a 113 career OPS+ and only one season below 100, can be considered an above average hitter. An inexpensive alternative with less stick would be David Delucci. A speed guy like Dave Roberts was also on the market and could hit atop the lineup with Roberts, Markakis and Tejada behind him to drive him in.

The Orioles with their incessant band-aid responses to bigger problems have poised themselves for another year of mediocrity as an also ran in the American League. With the Yankees pitching scuffling an opportunity existed for a different team to claim the title in the East. Most experts would award that crown to Boston, the runner up for the last billion or so years. But why not the Orioles, who had held first place in the East with a vise like grip for the first half of 2005 before the wheels came off. The injury to Kris Benson gave Baltimore the opportunity to find a creative solution tot he roster hole, instead plugged with Steve Trachsel, last seen being run out of Queens.

Oh well, another pedestrian solution. Should the Orioles can continue to suffer along and not make any effort to put a real winning franchise on the field, the fans protests will continue to grow louder and teams like the Red Sox and Yankees with their large traveling contingents will enjoy a quasi home field cheering section when visiting Charm City.

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I think that’s it in a nutshell. For the past decade we’ve seen one mediocrity after another paraded into town as a solution. Nothing wrong with mediocre; but if that’s all you strive for, .500 is as good as it will get.
One GM after another seems to have no idea how to judge talent.
(And thanks for the link!)

Posted by soccer dad | April 24, 2007 | 09:23 am | Permalink

My wife has worked in hotel sales for about a decade or so in the Baltimore area. Some of the reason for the Red Sox fan cheering section size is because in some cases it’s cheaper for Bosox fans to fly to BWI, get a room and buy tickets for the game here than it is for them to go to Fenway.

Posted by Jeff Quinton | April 26, 2007 | 04:47 pm | Permalink

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