Last offseason, the Baltimore Orioles traded away SP Erik Bedard and SS Miguel Tejada in a attempt to rebuild the once proud franchise back into respectability. After years of aging players and foolish contracts, it appeared as though the Orioles turned a corner last offseason towards youth and rebuilding.
In order to compete in the AL East, this is exactly what the Orioles needed to do. Even though the Orioles did not play very well in 2008, I thought that the rebuilding process was actually right on track. Aside from the continued growth of OF Nick Markakis and OF Adam Jones, the Orioles lucked out by getting great seasons out of veterans Melvin Mora, Aubrey Huff, and Ramon Hernandez. Three players who have no future with the Orioles because of their age and expiring contracts (after 2009)....prime trade pieces!!!!
Or so I thought. As of today, I have heard next to nothing on the trade front from the Orioles, which concerns me. The value for all three of these guys will never be higher and this is the Orioles last chance to get some return on their investment. The odds are high that these aging veterans will not be able to repeat their 2008 performance, which makes holding onto them even more foolish. Even if Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora hit 30+ HRs each next season, the Orioles will probably still remain in the AL East cellar.
Maybe the Orioles are holding off on the rebuilding process until later on in the season because they want to sign local favorite 1b Mark Teixeira. Tex is exactly the kind of player the Orioles need-a young, marketable, power hitter. But, with or without Tex, the Orioles are still years away from competing in the AL East and they need to cut ties with these three veterans now. Getting younger should be the Orioles top priority right now, even if they struggle in 2009 and 2010.
Last offseason was a great start for the Orioles rebuilding project. But that was just the start. They need to finish the job by moving (or trying to move) Huff, Mora, and Hernandez. Activity is the only way for the Orioles to dramatically improve, while doing nothing would leave the Orioles in the gutter.