Will Angelos kill Roberts deal? More news and notes
Posted: Monday February 11, 2008 4:58PM; Updated: Monday February 11, 2008 7:12PM
Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who is famous for meddling in baseball matters and killing deals, showed some definite progress in allowing Baltimore VP Andy MacPhail to trade two of Angelos' favorites -- shortstop Miguel Tejada and starting pitcher Erik Bedard -- and many figured that once Angelos signed off on Bedard, he'd also give the go-ahead to trade second baseman Brian Roberts to the Cubs.
It only makes sense. Bedard's trade signaled that the Orioles' rebuilding process is in full flight, so there's less reason to keep Roberts. But sense and the Orioles don't always go hand-in-hand.
There is now a feeling in Orioles land that Angelos may be balking at the negotiated haul for Roberts, which according to sources, is a very fair three-player package of young pitcher Sean Gallagher, outfielder Matt Murton and infielder Ronny Cedeno. There is also a sense that Angelos has an unreasonable attachment to Roberts, who may well remind the owner of himself: a little guy who's scrapped his way to the top of his profession (no, not baseball; Angelos is at the top of the legal profession, at least in terms of dollars earned).
Angelos has killed trades involving Roberts before. And apparently even Roberts' inclusion in the Mitchell Report and admission as a steroid user hasn't dulled Angelos' affection for him.
Angelos has run through a string of estimable baseball executives over the years. His M.O. is to get in the way of them doing their jobs, then blame them for his failings by firing them. More than anything, his meddlesome practices account for the Orioles' pathetic performance over the last decade. However, things were going to be different with MacPhail, who has a big rep from his Twins days and MLB connections. With MacPhail starting only last summer, it is believed he may have more pull with Angelos than some of his predecessors. At least for now.
MacPhail understood that Bedard wasn't going to sign with the Orioles long-term and wouldn't be around for the turnaround since he's eligible for free agency after the 2009 season. And so MacPhail negotiated the best trade possible. And after some stalling, Angelos did allow MacPhail to make the Bedard deal, a key step in a potential turnaround.
Originally, Angelos acted antsy about the Bedard trade, telling insiders he was worried the Mariners were trying to trap him when outfielder Adam Jones revealed he was on his way to Baltimore for the physical. Angelos seemed to be worried that if Jones came for his physical and anything was amiss, he'd become the first baseball owner disallowed from canceling a deal. He apparently read the fine print of some arcane baseball rule. But more than likely, he was afflicted with cold feet.
Angelos eventually did relent on that deal, which makes great sense from both sides. It gives the Mariners a better chance to compete in the tough American League West, and it gives the Orioles a top outfield prospect (Jones), an excellent reliever (George Sherrill) and a fine pitching prospect (Chris Tillman).
"That's a great trade for the Orioles,'' one competing GM said. Jones is seen as a potential star, as is Tillman, though he's further from the big leagues. Scouts love the fact Tillman competed well at high Class A last year at age 19, where he struck out 139 batters in 135 2/3 innings.
Jones, Sherill and Tillman are a great first step. But Angelos needs to let MacPhail continue to do his job so that the franchise can discard its tag as a laughingstock.