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As a Mariner last year, Norm Charlton was a key part of a five-man group that couldn't pick up a save in a Salvation Army thrift shop. For the Orioles this year, his main job will be to set the table for Armando Benitez. At this stage in his career, Carlton is too wild to be a closer (49 walks in 69 1/3 innings last year) for a good team like Baltimore. That's fine, except for the fact that Benitez may also be too wild to be a closer. So if Charlton relieves Benitez 10 times, that'll mean the O's closer can't find the plate. And that could cost the Orioles the division title.
What They Needed: With Randy Myers and Geronimo Berroa defecting to Toronto and Cleveland, respectively, a solid arm or two for the pen and a powerful bat.
What They Got:The O's hope Joe Carter has one or two more 30 HR seasons in his bat. Norm Charlton, late of the disastrous Seattle bullpen, brings last year's 7.27 ERA to town. Doug Drabek was signed as a fifth starter. Shortstop Ozzie Guillen was signed as a backup.
What it All Means:This team is a little older, and even better: Carter is still a threat, Guillen adds depth, and Charlton and Drabek have been in pennant races before. The downside: Cal Ripken suddenly seems young.
by Tom Verducci
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