Monday, February 10, 2014
Greg Walker, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #471
Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter have developed an M.O. in Baltimore of quantity over quality, scooping up minor league free agents and fringe major leaguers by the sackful in the hopes that a few will pan out and make a positive impact on the big league club. That's how Nate McLouth and Miguel Gonzalez came about, but it's frustrating to see a team that's got a promising young core steadfastly refuse to loosen the purse strings. I want to be proven wrong, but I just don't think that a Grapefruit League roster that reads like a "Who's Who" of "Who's That?" is going to pass muster in the cutthroat American League East.
Yes, yes, there is that foundation of Jones, Davis, Wieters, Hardy, Machado, Tillman, Chen, and Gonzalez. Not a bad start. But take a look at the reams of extras the O's have gone bargain hunting for this winter and tell me what you think.
On the 40-man roster, they've added Brad Brach, Kelvin de la Cruz, Edgmer Escalona, Liam Hendriks, Ryan Webb, Johnny Monell, Michael Almanzar, Jemile Weeks, David Lough, Francisco Peguero. Beyond the 40-man, you'll find Cord Phelps, David Freitas, Chris Marrero, Ivan DeJesus Jr., Xavier Paul, Quintin Berry, Luis Vizcaino, Delmon Freaking Young, Alfredo Aceves, Aaron Laffey, Alex Gonzalez, Jack Cust(!), Evan Meek, and Matt LaPorta. Breathtaking.
Sure, I'm being a bit cynical. Several of those guys will probably be stashed at Norfolk or even Bowie to fill roster spots, only to be called upon in a roster emergency. But those are all of the players with MLB experience who have been added to the Baltimore organization since the end of the 2013 season. Webb and Lough are the big gets. A setup reliever and a 28 year-old defense-first outfielder. The sheer volume of the names is staggering to me, and I just wonder if other teams operate in those kind of numbers.
On that note, remember Greg Walker? He was the White Sox' pre-Frank Thomas first baseman, and had three 20-homer seasons for the Pale Hose in the mid-80s. He went downhill in a hurry, and the O's picked him off the heap in May 1990 after Chicago cut him loose. But at age 30, he was done. He played his last 14 games in Baltimore, batting .147 with no extra-base hits, and receiving his walking papers in July. Greg Walker himself probably doesn't remember being an Oriole.