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Santandah

Maybe free agency is this team’s problem (Lesson from 1998)

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Entering 1998, the Orioles were coming off of a 98 win wire-to-wire campaign, and there was a sense of optimism heading into the season. The band was back together for one more run, and seemed poised to make another run at the ALCS, especially with the signings of Joe Carter and Doug Drabek. And much of the optimism hinged on the thought that the team had a number of key players entering free agency -- the prevailing thought at the time being that these players would be inspired to put up numbers, and also give it one more run together. 

Those free agents:

  • Rafael Palmeiro
  • Robbie Alomar
  • Eric davis
  • BJ Surhoff
  • Alan Mills

Those are three all stars, one a generational talent, and two near all stars, all motivated to make money. 

Instead, the team faltered out of the gate, and it became pretty clear that the camaraderie just wasn’t there as they all saw the road in Baltimore coming to an end, and what we actually had was a selfish team that just never came together. They stumbled to 79-83, fell to 4th place, and we all know what happened over the next 14 years.

Heading into this season, it’s not hard to see some parallels.

Look at our group of free agents to be:

  • Manny (Generational talent)
  • Adam Jones (Recent former All Star)
  • Brad Brach (Recent former All Star)
  • Zach Britton (Recent former All Star)
  • Buck Showalter

Yes. I know that Zach is hurt and hasn’t played, and I know that Buck isn’t a player.  And yes, I know that the wheels started to come off last year, and that the high water mark for this team was nowhere near that of the 1997 group.

But the sense that this team just isn’t really in it together -- that feels the same. Those are five core team members who know that the road in Baltimore simply could be over, and the whole team knows that this run is finished. There’s no getting the band back together. The success of the past is truly in the past, and they all have uncertain futures. And the entire team came out flat.

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Just now, Can_of_corn said:

I've never seen compelling evidence to indicate players perform appreciably different in walk years.

Or better when older without enhancement. 

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I thought the premise was going to be that the Orioles play worse when they sign Free Agents. And I was going to agree. Especially their own. 

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1 minute ago, mdbdotcom said:

That team was so old the lineup should have been sponsored by Geritol.

And I'm so old I got that joke!

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2 minutes ago, nsw said:

And I'm so old I got that joke!

I actually said that the O's PR director during that off-season. His reply was, "That Geritol lineup is going to take us to the World Series." 

 

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1 hour ago, Santandah said:

Entering 1998, the Orioles were coming off of a 98 win wire-to-wire campaign, and there was a sense of optimism heading into the season. The band was back together for one more run, and seemed poised to make another run at the ALCS, especially with the signings of Joe Carter and Doug Drabek. And much of the optimism hinged on the thought that the team had a number of key players entering free agency -- the prevailing thought at the time being that these players would be inspired to put up numbers, and also give it one more run together. 

Those free agents:

  • Rafael Palmeiro
  • Robbie Alomar
  • Eric davis
  • BJ Surhoff
  • Alan Mills

Those are three all stars, one a generational talent, and two near all stars, all motivated to make money. 

Instead, the team faltered out of the gate, and it became pretty clear that the camaraderie just wasn’t there as they all saw the road in Baltimore coming to an end, and what we actually had was a selfish team that just never came together. They stumbled to 79-83, fell to 4th place, and we all know what happened over the next 14 years.

Heading into this season, it’s not hard to see some parallels.

Look at our group of free agents to be:

  • Manny (Generational talent)
  • Adam Jones (Recent former All Star)
  • Brad Brach (Recent former All Star)
  • Zach Britton (Recent former All Star)
  • Buck Showalter

Yes. I know that Zach is hurt and hasn’t played, and I know that Buck isn’t a player.  And yes, I know that the wheels started to come off last year, and that the high water mark for this team was nowhere near that of the 1997 group.

But the sense that this team just isn’t really in it together -- that feels the same. Those are five core team members who know that the road in Baltimore simply could be over, and the whole team knows that this run is finished. There’s no getting the band back together. The success of the past is truly in the past, and they all have uncertain futures. And the entire team came out flat.

That '98 team was very streaky. Had a 16-4 stretch leading up to the trade deadline. Probably wouldn't have sold anyway, but that hot streak ensured that Raffy, Alomar, and whoever else stayed put. 

https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BAL/1998-schedule-scores.shtml

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3 hours ago, Chito said:

That '98 team was very streaky. Had a 16-4 stretch leading up to the trade deadline. Probably wouldn't have sold anyway, but that hot streak ensured that Raffy, Alomar, and whoever else stayed put. 

https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BAL/1998-schedule-scores.shtml

68-58 entering August 20. Tied for fourth best record in AL, seven games back of the single Wild Card.

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The Orioles aren’t in a market position to thrive in the Free Agent market, especially now that the trend has gone towards locking up young stars. The team needs to be more aggressive extending young assets or trading those assets before they get expensive. Then they could use free agency for one big acquisition or depth pieces.

Their current strategy of using FA to fill holes with (hopefully) league average players and letting their own guys get to free agency before trying to sign them was never feasible long term.

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