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Frustrated O’s Fans Want New Front Office

Unhappy Orioles’ fans want Peter Angelos gone

With just a week remaining in the 2006 MLB regular season, the American League East standings all are but clear.  We know that the Yankees will win the division — they’ve already clinched it.  The 2nd/3rd place battle is currently being fought between the Red Sox and the Blue Jays, with the BoSox leading by 1.5 games.  In 4th place, as they almost always are, you’ll find the Baltimore Orioles.  And finally, the Devil Rays are in 5th place. 

That is precisely what Orioles’ fans are upset about; their team’s inability to rise in the AL East standings and get into the playoffs.  The blame was first placed on the managers, and the O’s thought they had finally found a fix when they hired Sam Perlozzo for this season.  Another problem was thought to be the coaching staff, precisely the pitching coach and bullpen coach, so the O’s signed the league’s premier pitching instructor in Leo Mazzone.  It simply hasn’t worked.  Mazzone has clearly had his effect on Erik Bedard and Chris Ray, but there hasn’t been that much improvement in the Orioles’ pitching.  The same can be said of the managerial job that Sam Perlozzo has done; he has made quite a few erroneous decisions, and has been far from an elite manager. 

So, it appears that changing the on-field staff didn’t help Baltimore.  The blame has now moved to the front office, specifically to CEO Peter Angelos.  Almost a thousand disgruntled Orioles’ fans left their team’s game against the Detroit Tigers at Camden Yards during the 4th inning.  They left at exactly 5:08PM, in honor of Brooks Robinson (#5) and Cal Ripken Jr. (#8).   picketting outside the stadium with signs like “For Pete’s Sake” and “Free the Birds”.  Angelos quickly jumped on the defensive saying “do you have any comprehension  what it costs to [run a baseball team]?” 

In particular, here’s what Angelos meant.  He believes that competing in the AL East means having a payroll of 100-110 million.   The Orioles’ current payroll is around 75 million.  Tickets to see the O’s play at Camden Yards have an average cost of $22.  Compare those two figures to the payroll and ticket prices of the Red Sox and Yankees, and you’ll find that ticket prices to see the Sox or Yankees play average $45+ and their payrolls are 120 million (Boston) and 194 million (New York).  In other words, the Orioles are well behind both of those teams in that regard.  The question is, how do you kill those two birds with one stone? 

What I mean by that is, in order for the Orioles to have more money to spend on the team, they need to raise ticket prices quite a bit.  Meanwhile, if you raise ticket prices and the team still stinks, fans will stop attending the games, and your high-priced tickets will go unsold.  That leaves Peter Angelos with an interesting decision, and one that fans believe he is incapable of making.  He either has to put the team into debt — the Yankees are operating in the red so it can be done — to raise payroll without having the money to do it, or he needs to put together the team a different way … through the minor leagues. 

The Orioles currently have two decent rookies: Nick Markakis and Chris Ray.  Their minor league system is among the league’s worst, with very few top prospects anywhere near MLB-readiness.  What can be done about that?  Well, trading Miguel Tejada your current players for solid prospects is the first step.  Look at the Florida Marlins, for example.  They don’t have many veteran players, and yet their just a step away from being in the playoffs.  Granted, the NL is much less competitive than the AL East, but I think that a team with a lot of high-flying rookies can contend in that division as well. 

Here’s my advice to Peter Angelos.  Tell GM Jim Duquette to trade Miguel Tejada and Melvin Mora for several near-MLB-ready prospects.  There will be plenty of takers for those two, and I’m pretty certain that Duquette, if he does his job correctly, can acquire a couple of decent pitching prospects and a power bat to replace Tejada in a year or two.  This plan won’t be extremely popular with fans, but you can’t have it both ways.  The ticket prices won’t have to be raised, but on the other hand, the fans will have to wait another year or two for their team to get competitive.  The fans at Camden Yards won’t want to pay 50 bucks a ticket to see their team lose and lose and lose, so they’ve got to be patient with management. 

And I’m not so certain the frustrated fans are placing the blame on the right guy.  Certainly, Peter Angelos could agree to raise the payroll, but other teams, such as the A’s, Twins, and Padres are competing with lower payrolls.  That means GM Jim Duquette could do a better job of putting the team together.  It starts with making some moves in the offseason to acquire future stars, and it continues with drafting properly in the 2007 MLB Draft.  If Jim Duquette does his job correctly over the next season or two, the O’s might contend by 2008-09, and the ticket prices can stay low.  If he doesn’t, the O’s may need to torch the front office to force all the executives out, and then rebuild from top-to-bottom. 

What course of action, if any, the O’s choose to take depends on what Peter Angelos wants to do.  And judging by what he’s done in the past, it’s not much.  I wouldn’t go so far as to picket by the stadium calling for Peter Angelos’ ouster, but the fans definitely have good reasons for their frustration.  Now, it’s up to  Peter Angelos to fix the team, to avoid pictures like this being published in the future…

Is Peter Angelos really the devil?

_______________________________________________________________

Trivia!

Yesterday’s Q and it’s A…

Q: Who was the last closer to win the AL Cy Young award?

A: Dennis Eckersley in 1992

And here’s today’s question…

The Orioles last won the World Series in 1983.  Who was the winning pitcher in Game 5 (the final game) of that Series?

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One Response to “Frustrated O’s Fans Want New Front Office”

  1. I understand the O’s fans frustration, but I think they took it a step too far…

    On the trivia question, I believe the Game 5 winner was Storm Davis.

    Great post!


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