The Baseball Desert

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Baltimore and more

Sidney Ponson - who was traded by the Orioles to the Giants last July - has signed a three-year, $22.5m deal with the Orioles.

The Orioles have made a bunch of signings over the winter - Miguel Tejada, Javy Lopez, Rafael Palmeiro and now Ponson - but given the strength of the AL East, it still might not be enough to win the division. However, the high-profile signings do indicate that the front-office is making a real attempt to improve and be a contender. Paul, over at the SS Mariner, points in the direction of this good Post-Intelligencer article about Angels' owner Arte Moreno, and notably how his off-season moves stack up against the moves (or rather non-moves) being made the Mariners.

"What Moreno [has] is the good will of fans and players who appreciate not only the effort but the successful conclusion of a major free-agent signing. It's an enormous gamble, just as every wallet opening by George Steinbrenner is an offering to the god of odds. Depending on how you look at it, Steinbrenner's legendary profligacy has either paid off (six World Series appearances by the Yankees in the past eight years) or not (two World Series failures in the past two appearances).

Steinbrenner probably holds the latter view. Anyone else in his right mind would be fine with the Yankees' record of winning as it relates to spending.

Not that unbridled extravagance is the only way. Even the world champion Florida Marlins made a risky splash last year, signing Ivan Rodriguez for $10 million while keeping the rest of their $53 million payroll minuscule, at least by baseball standards.

It paid off big time, though no one had any idea it would at the time Rodriguez signed. You just have to jump into the pool and hope for the best.

Besides, it's usually the splash that people appreciate most.

I totally agree - fans like to win, but there are 30 major-league teams and only one winner, so what they like most of all is to see that the owners - who hold the fates of the teams they love in their hands - are doing what they can to field teams that have at least a shot at the title.