|Bricks from the Warehouse|
We feel like little kids who ran to open their birthday presents and found a sweater and a dictionary. True, our expectations were not all that high to begin with. After all, we had seen last season, where Syd Thrift managed to turn Charles Johnson, Harold Baines, Mike Timlin, Will Clark, Mike Bordick, and B.J. Surhoff into nothing except some disabled list fodder. And we had heard all the pronouncements from Syd Thrift about how he wasn't planning on making any big moves this season.
But still. Still, call us cockeyed optimists, but we thought that, perhaps, Syd Thrift had something planned. We thought that he was just trying to drive up the price for Jeff Conine with his absurd claims that Conine was an important part of the team. We thought that, even if just by accident, he'd get a quality prospect like Jay Gibbons. Hey, it could happen. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Yeah, right. Whatever. Instead, what do we get? We get Mike Trombley sent to Orioles West Coast for "prospects" Kris Foster and Geronimo Gil. Foster's an alleged relief prospect, and if you squint at his career the right way, he might be a legitimate one. He throws really hard -- mid-90s, by normal standards, or low-100s, by Peter Gammons hype standards. Geronimo Gil's at best a major league backup catcher. He has some pop in his bat, a good arm, but not enough of an offensive game to start.
That's it? No Jeff Conine trade? No Buddy Groom? (We accept that Mike Bordick and David Segui, being on the disabled list, are untradeable.) What about Jose Mercedes? Where's the decision to continue the rebuilding process by moving veterans? Where are all the prospects the Orioles could get? Nowhere, of course. Syd Thrift couldn't get them. But what's worse, he didn't even try. He wanted to keep Jeff Conine -- in fact, he thinks the team needs "another Jeff Conine."
If there's anything that symbolizes the ineptitude, the disaster that is the brainrust and the Baltimore Orioles, it's that statement. The team needs another Jeff Conine? The team needs another first baseman/designated hitter that can play outfield about as well as you'd expect a first baseman to play outfield, and that can play third base about as well as you'd expct a first baseman to play third base? It needs another player that is near the bottom of his position offensively, relatively speaking? It needs another old declining player? No, this team needs lots of things -- a first baseman, a second baseman, a shortstop, a third baseman, an outfield, a catcher, a designated hitter, a couple of starting pitchers, and a bullpen. The one thing it doesn't need, the one thing it has too many of already, is Jeff Conine.
What we really can't understand, though, is why, if the Orioles decided that rebuilding is out and spending money on veterans is back in, if the Orioles decided that their primary need was a better bullpen, they made this trade. How does swapping Trombley for Foster improve the bullpen? It saves money, of course -- but if that were the goal, then why not ship off Conine and Mercedes? We don't get it. But perhaps our mistake is in asking the question "What was Syd thinking?", because that carries with it the implicit assumption that Syd was thinking. Who says that there was a plan?