[LOGO] News Archives: January 2000

January 15

The good news: Orioles tickets go on sale today. The bad news: are we sure we want to see them play?

Now that the smoke has finally cleared from the wreckage of the Aaron Sele non-signing, one thing is clear: the Orioles are, once again, the laughingstock of baseball. Baseball columnists everywhere have jumped on the chance to bash Peter Angelos: the Baltimore Sun's John Eisenberg and Ken Rosenthal, the Washington Post's Tom Boswell, and of course random internet columnists have all weighed in with their ridicule of Peter Angelos. And we don't want to be left out, so check out Paging Dr. Angelos, our latest Bricks from the Warehouse column.

With the Sele debacle, the question becomes what the Orioles will do now. Barring injury, four of their starters -- Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson, Sidney Ponson, and Jason Johnson -- are locks. After they lost Sele, the Orioles were looking at the three free agent pitchers left -- Hideo Nomo, Steve Trachsel, and Darren Oliver, and the Orioles were supposedly highest on Oliver. Unfortunately for the Orioles, players are not waiting on Peter Angelos's timetable. Oliver signed with the Texas Rangers, and Trachsel with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. That leaves Hideo Nomo, or as he was known after his last few seasons, Hideous Nomo. In addition, it appears that the Orioles may have added Steve Avery to their wish list. Of course, they could still go with minor league journeyman and Ex-O Jose Mercedes. Anything to avoid a youngster.

In other news, the Orioles reached agreement with arbitration eligible Al Reyes on a one-year contract for $620,000. This leaves only Charles Johnson, who filed for arbitration Friday, to go through the process, just as he did a year ago. Of course, the two sides have a month to reach an agreement, but given the penny wise, pound foolish nature of the Orioles, we doubt they'll be reasonable enough to do so.

As noted, Baseball America has been profiling the various organizations around baseball, and has finally gotten around to Baltimore's. Their annual list of the top 10 prospects has Matt Riley as the team's top minor leaguer.

In Ex-O news for the week, former alleged OF phenom Alex Ochoa was traded by Milwaukee to Cincinnati for Mark Sweeney; Ochoa replaces ex-O Jeffrey Hammonds as a right handed bat off the bench for the Reds. The Expos signed RHP Anthony Telford to a two year contract, continuing the Expos' new owner's spending spree. And minor league deals include catcher Lenny Webster returning to Montreal, infielder Jeff Huson signing with the Cubs, utility infielder Esteban Beltre signing with the White Sox, and pitcher Mike Morgan joining his twelfth organization as he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. And in Hall of Fame voting released on Tuesday, there were no true Os on the ballot, but a couple of Ex-Os got votes. Pitcher Rick Sutcliffe picked up 9 votes, and OF Lonnie Smith picked up one. Both are being dropped from future ballots because of their low totals.

January 11

OOPS! Or as we used to yell when we played sandlot baseball, "Do over!" After four days of dithering, it turns out that the Orioles' biggest offseason news is still that they signed Buddy Groom. The Aaron Sele signing? Well, he did sign, but it was with the Seattle Mariners. If you're wondering what the heck's going on in Baltimore, you're not alone. To make a long story short, for those of you who don't remember, the Orioles were burned last year when they decided Xavier Hernandez was injured after signing him, but got stuck paying him anyway. So they seem determined to avoid that mistake at all costs. And the cost this time was Aaron Sele. When medical reports were iffy, the Orioles took their $29 million/4 year deal off the table, and were trying to renegotiate, but Sele apparently got tired of waiting for them to figure out what they were doing.

As people who read our column on the Sele signing know, we weren't thrilled with the idea of signing him, so we can't exactly complain about this news. But it's still embarassing to be fans of an organization that is so badly run that it can't even manage to handle a basic free agent signing without the owner messing everything up. And ironically, had the Orioles signed Sele to the two year deal he ultimately received, we would have been a lot less annoyed. So what now? Well, the Orioles could try a youngster like Matt Riley or Calvin Maduro, or they could sign one of the free agents remaining on the market. Gee, which do you think they'll pick? The two biggest remaining names are Darren Oliver and Steve Trachsel. Both are 29; Oliver's a lefty. Trachsel has gotten pounded for three straight years by opposing batters. Oliver, with the exception of 1998, has pitched well -- better than Sele, in fact, though somewhat less durable.

Baseball America has been profiling the various organizations around baseball, and has finally gotten around to Baltimore's. Their annual list of the top 10 prospects has Matt Riley as the team's top minor leaguer.

In Ex-O news, after losing out on Aaron Sele, the Devil Rays signed Juan Guzman; they also gave a minor league contract to stiff Norm Charlton. Reliever Brian Williams signed a one year deal with the Cubs, and the Indians signed catcher Matt Nokes to a minor league deal. Also, outfielder Pete Incaviglia signed with Nashua of the independent Atlantic League. And finally, lefty Doug Johns, who could still end up being resigned by the Os to a minor league deal, was given a slap on the wrist (community service and a small fine) for his first DUI/marijuana case of 1999. The second one, from October, has yet to come to trial.

With the start of the new year, everyone on earth is making "Best of" lists. We thought we'd join in the fun and began by creating a list of the top Orioles by decade in our next Bricks from the Warehouse entry, Players of the.... And then there's our look back at the Frank Wren firing, in our first Bricks from the Warehouse column of the year 2000.

And for those of you eagerly awaiting your trip to Florida to catch the Os prepare for the season, check out our Spring Training Information page.

January 7

The big news of the day, and indeed of the entire offseason: Friday's Washington Post reports that the Orioles are close to signing free agent right-handed starting pitcher Aaron Sele, who was also being courted by Tampa Bay. The reported offer is a four year deal for approximately $30 million. Although the Post reports that Sele's still thinking it over, Friday's Tampa Tribune reports that the Os have already signed him. If you're a long-time reader of the site, you can probably guess our reaction to this news -- we aren't exactly jumping for joy -- but for a detailed analysis, please check out our latest Bricks from the Warehouse column, Aaron Sele: Stud or Dud?.

We also wanted to note that Ex-O Gregg Olson was signed to a two year, $3.5 million deal by the Dodgers. If the Orioles were going to waste money on mediocre relievers, why couldn't they have at least brought back a fan favorite like The Otter instead of Buddy Groom, who cost the Orioles more than Olson received?

A couple of less prominent Ex-Oriole notes: Brad Komminsk was named manager of Kinston, Cleveland's A affiliate, and the Rockies are close to signing Doug Linton.

January 4

With the New Millenium just one year away (So sue us, we're sticklers for accuracy) we thought it was time to restart our Orioles coverage. There hasn't been much news lately, of course, but when there is, rest assured, we'll provide you with our take on the matter.

For instance, the Orioles just signed free agent Jose Mercedes to a minor league contract, and gave him a spring training invitation. Mercedes is actually an Ex-O; he was signed by the Orioles back in 1989, but was plucked away by Milwaukee before the 1994 season in the Rule V draft. He's "only" 29, which puts him a year away from becoming part of the major league roster. Basically, he's minor league roster filler. He bounced all over AAA last year, compiling a 3.69 ERA in 146 innings with three different teams. However, his other numbers were poor; he allowed a lot of unearned runs (1.55 per 9 innings) gave up a lot of hits (176), and didn't strike many out (89). That's after coming off a 1998 ruined by rotator cuff surgery -- the second time in his career (along with 1995) he has missed a season due to injury.

We also wanted to note that Ex-O Bobby Bonilla was released by the Mets today. He's now a free agent who can sign with any team for the major league minimum, with the Mets paying the balance of his salary. He's old and bad -- hey, maybe the Os can sign him to make sure that Cal Pickering never sees a major league start.

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Last Updated: January 15, 2000
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