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January 15
Paging Doctor Angelos

We already know that Peter Angelos is an politician, attorney, businessman owner, general manager, manager, Olympic organizer, and all-around genius. But what we bet you did not know was that The Peter is also a medical doctor.

According to the Baltimore Sun,

An Orioles official said last night that Jacobs' examination of Sele
did not discover any tear of the pitcher's rotator cuff. However,
Angelos became alarmed over "moderate wear and tear" of the
pitcher's right shoulder that potentially could worsen by the third or
fourth year of the proposed deal.

(emphasis added.) So apparently it was not the team's own doctors or their coaches or new manager, or even Sid Thrift, who made this decision. No, it was Peter Angelos. The Sun article notes that Texas, Tampa, (both of which offered Sele a four year deal) and Seattle all had no worries about Sele's health. Other than one time when he had the flu, he hasn't missed a start in the last two years. But Angelos, with his vast medical training, had concerns.

Or, at least, that was the story put forward. But the Sun article also notes that

The Orioles were forwarded Sele's medical history by the Rangers but
apparently did not examine it until after he accepted their offer
sheet Thursday night.

And moreover, it was rumored that the change Angelos wanted to make in Sele's offer was to convert the fourth year from a guaranteed year to an option year. A three-year deal for $7 million per year is hardly the sort of offer you make to someone you think might be injured. So it's hard to imagine that medical issues had anything to do with this comedy of errors. What's more likely is that Peter Angelos just changed his mind. What could have caused that? Well, right after Sele was rumored to have signed, the Devil Rays signed Juan Guzman, the Athletics signed Omar Olivares, and the Cardinals signed Andy Benes -- all to smaller deals than Aaron Sele was offered. Angelos has been roundly criticized in the past for locking mediocre players into long-term, high-value contracts. (Of course, he did it again this year with Mike Trombley, so it is unlikely there was a real change of heart.) But it seems like he rethought the Sele deal and decided it just was not what he wanted.

Or perhaps he flipped a coin and it came up tails. With The Peter running the show, you just never know. This is, after all, the same guy who is still trying to get out of paying Frank Wren what he owes him. This is the same guy that ran the best announcer in baseball out of town, as well as about 83 different managers and 17 general managers. The only thing that is clear is that The Peter is definitely the one in charge now. The Sun reports that Thrift "prodded Angelos to make the deal," but made it clear that it was Angelos, not Thrift, who negotiated the original deal and then attempted to renegotiate.

As we've made clear in the past, it doesn't bother us that Angelos isn't a "baseball person." We don't really have all that much respect for most "baseball people" anyway. If he wants to be the GM, fine. But let him be the GM, then. Have him stop hiring puppets like Gillick, Wren, and Thrift and then blaming them for his mistakes. Have him do the job full-time. If there's one constant thread running through profiles of Peter Angelos's tenure as Os' owner, it's that he's always busy doing something else when decisions need to be made. And that's understandable; if you're going to spend your time fleecing the legislature, when are you going to have time to negotiate with a free agent? If Pat Gillick missed out on a free agent because he was running a business on the side, Angelos would have had his head on a platter. But somehow Angelos thinks he can do both?

Aaron Sele was very polite in his comments about the Orioles after he signed with Seattle (while Seattle GM Gillick was gloating), but inside, he had to have been seething. He turned down the Devil Rays' 4-year offer because the Orioles had made him an offer, only to have the Orioles yank it away after it was too late for him to go back to Tampa. How is that going to look to future free agents? What's the point of reaching a deal if Angelos will just change his mind on a whim, four or five days after the agreement is reached? Rafael Palmeiro and Alan Mills and Arthur Rhodes all waited in vain for Angelos to get around to negotiating with them. Will Mike Mussina be next? Cal Ripken will probably be retired after the season; can the Orioles afford to lose Mussina, too? He's a free agent after the season, and with the Orioles giving Sele such a huge offer, at least temporarily, Mussina's not going to settle for a pat on the head. But will Angelos bother to negotiate? Or will he waste the season suing tobacco companies, and only get around to making an offer in October, when Mussina's ready to leave the organization in disgust?

(Again, we don't want you to think we are contradicting ourselves, since we just recently came out against the Sele signing. It is the Orioles' inability to manage even the simplest of chores -- signing a free agent -- without causing controversy that concerns us. Accidentally getting this one right doesn't make us feel better.)

Comments? Is our analysis right on target or off the wall? We want to know what you think. And if you can do better, show us! Good submissions are always welcome.


© 2000 The Orioles Warehouse
Whole wheat.
Last Updated: January 15, 2000
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