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Here come the Orioles!

Boom, boom and (maybe) BOOM! In the past 16 hours or so, the Baltimore Orioles have reached preliminary agreement with closer Mike Gonzalez and corner infielder Garrett Atkins (both pending physicals), and have reportedly "jumped into" the bidding for left fielder Matt Holliday.

Do the Orioles have a legitimate shot at Holliday? Probably not. Holliday is known to prefer the NL (after an awful experience with Oakland this season), and there are NL teams, namely the Cardinals and Mets, with plenty of motivation to land him. It's also not exactly correct to assume the Orioles have tons of money lying around simply because Mark Teixeira turned down their offer of $140 million over seven years last winter. Once Teixeira signed with the Yankees, the Orioles immediately spent almost all that money on extensions for Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, plus the signing of Koji Uehara.

The best hope Orioles fans have of landing Holliday is the unpredictability of their owner. Agent Scott Boras will almost certainly direct Holliday to the team that offers the most money, and with Peter Angelos, you just never know.

Regardless of where Holliday winds up, Orioles GM Andy MacPhail has executed a smart, sensible off-season plan thus far. The team had four primary needs entering the winter -- first base, third base, closer and No. 1 starter -- and MacPhail has filled three of them with moderately priced veterans. Right-hander Kevin Millwood will cost them $9 million next season, when you factor in the money the Texas Rangers sent over in that trade. Gonzalez will cost $6 million in each of the next two seasons. And Atkins (who will play either first or third, depending on what the Orioles do next) probably cost only $5 million or so. So for roughly $20 million in 2010 payroll commitments, or about what one year of Holliday might cost, the Orioles got three solid pieces that they absolutely needed.

They're not going to challenge the Red Sox or Rays, let alone the Yankees, in the AL East next season, but the Orioles -- with their solid young core now surrounded by a good mix of veterans -- seem to be positioning themselves for a major improvement in 2010, and if things break just right, perhaps a run at contention in 2011. At least to the extent a run is still possible in this division.

By Dave Sheinin  |  December 17, 2009; 9:51 AM ET
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Next: Why the Yankees are sitting this dance out


Great work by Andy again. GM's make all the difference in the world.

Posted by: lavar609 | December 17, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"They're not going to challenge the Red Sox or Rays, let alone the Yankees, in the AL East next season...."

I dunno Dave, crazier things have happend and the O's always seem to play well against those clubs.

Some injuries here or there, a few breaks.

Anything is possible. The O's have hitting, they just need pitching and they are GTG.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | December 17, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

First Angelos wakes up and hires a legitimate GM, now Snyder. Thank God for small miracles.

Posted by: burbworks | December 17, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The O's look pretty good and I am not so sure that they are dmaned to 4th in the division. Sure the Yanks and Sox are loaded, but niether is without its own weaknesses (Yanks are old, slow and of questionable fielding capabilities and playing in a badn box and the Sox without bay and with a Staggering Papi may not exactly be scoring runs in bunches) and they have each other to beat up on. The O's have a bunch of 20+ HR guys, good gloves and very good speed and the pitching is much improved and could surprise. MacPhail is getting it done up there. Now if only the Nats would add some pieces, I'd be simling.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 17, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Hee hee. Boom-Boom saying "Boom, Boom, BOOM."

Posted by: NatsNut | December 18, 2009 6:59 AM | Report abuse

if you put the Birds in the NL East they would be a sleeper pick to win the division, and would finish no lower than 3rd...

Posted by: jesstyr | December 21, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

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