News Archives: February 2001

February 20
Spring Update

Spring Training Notes

The big news is expected to come on Tuesday. Albert Belle is going to have a physical, which will determine his fate for the year. If he fails, he could be forced off the roster by the team, though that seems unlikely. Even if he passes, though, that doesn't mean his struggles are over. He's admitted that he's going to need extra time off this year. (Of course, he has also said that he wants to play right field rather than DH, and manager Mike Hargrove, at least trying to be diplomatic, won't rule it out.)

Meanwhile, Jose Mercedes had his salary arbitration case on Monday in Phoenix, and a decision is expected tomorrow. The gap between him and the team is large -- fourth largest among all cases this year -- but given that the team has guaranteed the journeyman pitcher a job in the rotation regardless of what happens in spring training, it seems difficult for them to turn around and argue that he's not worth much money. Not that logic has ever touched Syd Thrift before.

We note that slugging corner outfielder Gary Sheffield has strongly requested a trade from the Dodgers, primarily because he wants a contract extension that will pay him more money. A few years ago, an elite player looking for an elite player's contract would have put Baltimore at or near the top of his wish list, but Sheffield has actually placed the Orioles on his list of teams to which he will not accept a trade.

We wanted to point out a brief story about ex-Oriole minor leaguer Bobby Chouinard's response to his legal difficulties.

Finally, as Scott Erickson begins his rehabilitation, we wanted our first Bricks from the Warehouse column of the year to examine the absurd claims put forth about his future role with this team.

February 18
Spring Training Update, Day 4

Spring Training Notes

The spring has barely begun, so there's not much news; the Orioles signed B.J.Ryan, John Parrish, Jay Spurgeon, Juan Guzman, Melvin Mora, Lesli Brea, John Bale, and Fernando Lunar to contracts. All were already locked up by the team, so it was just a matter of picking salaries for each.

It's amazing what you can do if you have no skills but you've hung around baseball a long time: you can join the Orioles. This time it's an off-field thing, as they named Larry Himes, the former White Sox and Cub GM, as special assistant to Syd Thrift. Himes previously joined the Orioles from the Angels for a brief time in 1980 to serve as a scouting supervisor and national crosschecker, but returned to the Angels later that year. His career as an executive was less than distinguished, as the top entry on his resume will always be that he was the GM responsible for running Greg Maddux out of Chicago, letting him get away to the Braves. We just wonder whether it would kill the Orioles to hire someone under the age of 50.

In Ex-O news, the Seattle Mariners inked shortstop Manny Alexander to a minor league deal. With the loss of Alex Rodriguez to the Rangers, an opening has been created on their roster, and the Mariners expect Manny Alexander to serve as their backup shortstop. This just goes back to our previous point, made many times before: general managers are basically cowards, who would rather sign the person they've heard of -- no matter how bad -- than take any chance at all.

Finally, as Scott Erickson begins his rehabilitation, we wanted our first Bricks from the Warehouse column of the year to examine the absurd claims put forth about his future role with this team.

February 16

Spring Training Notes

Sign#1 that your team is likely to be a laughingstock: even Major League Baseball's official website is mocking them. Of course, the Orioles -- both players and management -- are denying that there are serious problems. They're playing the everyone underrates us game, which is what bad teams do.

And in ex-Oriole news, former Oriole broadcaster Ernie Harwell has been named to the Hall of Fame's Veteran's Committee, which is best known for putting unqualified players into the Hall of Fame. And prosecutors decided not to file charges against Armando Benitez regarding his alleged assault against his former fiancee in October. (Also check out our historical overview of some past legal problems involving Orioles.)

And Mike Mussina has been telling everyone who will listen just how happy he is to be out of Baltimore and in New York.

February 15
And So it Begins...

Spring Training Notes

Cal Ripken recently suffered a rib injury; thought to be a bruise, it is now revealed to be a fractured rib, and he is expected to miss at least a month. The Orioles claim he will be ready for the season. Alan Mills, who underwent shoulder surgery last September, is not yet in shape for pitching, and needs to build arm strength.

The Orioles signed Calvin Maduro to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training. The former phenom, never given a shot by the Orioles, has now graduated to minor league journeyman -- though he's only 26 -- and he's more likely to beef up the Rochester rotation than play in Baltimore.

A day after signing Sidney Ponson to a $2.1M one-year deal, avoiding salary arbitration -- but also avoiding the important task of inking him to a long term contract -- the Orioles agreed to terms with pre-arbitration players Mark Nussbeck, Sean Douglass, Josh Towers, and Jay Gibbons.

© 2001 The Orioles Warehouse

Last Updated: February 15, 2001