Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Koji Uehara, 2009 Topps Allen and Ginter #43

Here's something I wasn't expecting to discuss this week: a new free-agent acquisition! The ongoing failures of the Orioles have finally given me a jaundiced view of the Hot Stove, one where I assume that any individual free agent worth having (i.e. Prince Fielder) will a) be too expensive and too discerning to sign with the O's and b) wouldn't fix the myriad problems with the team anyhow. It took years to mess up the team this badly, and it will take years of moves both big and small to fix it again. During the winter meetings, I found myself just holding my breath and hoping that the Orioles wouldn't repeat past mistakes, like signing another reliever to a multi-year deal or giving millions of dollars to a musty designated hitter type.

Pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada, recently of Japan's Softbank Hawks, figures to become Baltimore's second-ever Far East player in 2012. He reportedly agreed to a two-year, $8.15 million deal today and should be in line for a spot in the ever-questionable starting rotation in 2012. Even after tamping down the expectations created by his eye-popping NPB stats (16-5, 1.51 ERA, 168/40 K/BB in 2011), I think there's a lot to like. He'll be 31 next year, so he should have plenty left in the tank. The O's didn't overpay greatly in years or dollars, and GM Dan Duquette showed that he intends to be a bit more proactive in the international market than Andy MacPhail. In fact, "Duke" also made an offer to Korean reliever Chong Tae-Hyon, who chose to stay in his home country, and the Birds are going after Taiwanese pitcher Chen Wei-Yin and have shown interest in Cuban outfielder Yoennis Cespedes. While Wada doesn't have the raw velocity to challenge big league hitters, he clearly has impeccable control, and he wouldn't be the first soft-tossing lefty to baffle opponents with a more cerebral approach. (Paging Jamie Moyer.) Heck, Koji Uehara is a righty, and he's done pretty well for himself without throwing in the 90s.

At the very least, look at it this way: with all of the young pitchers that the Orioles stockpiled in the MacPhail era, they gave a combined total of 32 starts last season to the following pitchers: Alfredo Simon, Chris Jakubauskas, Jo-Jo Reyes, Mitch Atkins, and Rick VandenHurk. Ugh. For a few million dollars, they've gotten an important piece of insurance against that happening again in 2012.

There I go again, damning the O's with faint praise.

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