Commentary:Offseason of inactivity for Orioles

Nick Markakis

Atlanta Braves newest outfielder Nick Markakis speaks with reporters in the baseball team's clubhouse, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Atlanta. Markakis signed a four-year contract with the team on Wednesday. (AP Photo/David Goldman) ** Usable by LA, DC, CGT and CCT Only ** (David Goldman, AP / December 5, 2014)

Today we take a brief respite from the sound of basketballs echoing through gymnasiums and the sight of footballs – deflated or otherwise – spiraling through the air.

Spring training is only about three weeks away and major league general managers have spent the past three months assembling their rosters.

Or, more accurately in the case of one particular GM, reading Canadian travel brochures and dreaming about the Great White North.

For the Baltimore Orioles, this has been a winter marked by, ahem, inactivity. Perhaps that was the plan all along. Or perhaps the club Dan Duquette has been focused on plays in Toronto.

At the end of last season, I remember reading a piece by a stathead who used analytics to explain why the Baltimore Orioles were the most likely 2014 playoff team to miss the postseason in 2015, based on the personnel losses the team was expected to suffer in the offseason.

I scoffed. Audibly.

"Nonsense," said I, certain there was absolutely no possibility the Orioles would fail to capitalize on all the positive strides made in 2014.

That pesky playoff flameout against the Royals notwithstanding, Baltimore arguably had the best team in the American League a year ago, particularly over the last two months of the season. The prospect of another AL East title in 2015 seemed not only possible but probable.

Sure, they had three high-profile free agents in slugger Nelson Cruz, reliever Andrew Miller and outfielder Nick Markakis, but surely they would sign one or two of those and use their MASN money and the extra revenue generated by their best attendance figures since 2005 to replace anyone they lost, possibly reloading by making their own splash in free agency.

That was in November.

Now it's nearly February. Don't I feel foolish.

Cruz, Miller and Markakis now reside in Seattle, New York and Atlanta, respectively. They've been replaced by ... by ... by ...

Wesley Wright. A left-handed set-up man. Who is 0-7 over the past two seasons.

He's a poor man's Andrew Miller, which is fitting, considering the Orioles are spending like a poor man's MLB team.

Yes, arbitration-eligible players like Matt Wieters and Chris Davis and others are getting raises. Hefty raises, in some cases. That happens everywhere.

But everywhere else teams are spending the offseason trying to, oh, I don't know, improve their rosters.

There is no way even the most diehard, orange-and-black-pom-pom-waving fan can make an argument that the Orioles have improved.

Oh, the argument can be made that the losses of Cruz (MLB-high 40 home runs), Miller (103 strikeouts in 62 1-3 innings) and Markakis (Gold Glove defense) can be offset by the expected returns of Wieters and Manny Machado and the expected return to form of Davis. (Note the use of the word "expected" twice in that sentence.)

But guess what? The presence of Cruz and/or Miller and/or Markakis would've done nothing to inhibit those expected returns.

Last year, the roster was so deep that Steve Pearce got cut in April. And Delmon Young was largely stuck on the bench. And that was even before they added outfielder Alejandro De Aza.

Commentary:Offseason of inactivity for Orioles

Nick Markakis

Atlanta Braves newest outfielder Nick Markakis speaks with reporters in the baseball team's clubhouse, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Atlanta. Markakis signed a four-year contract with the team on Wednesday. (AP Photo/David Goldman) ** Usable by LA, DC, CGT and CCT Only ** (David Goldman, AP / December 5, 2014)

Today we take a brief respite from the sound of basketballs echoing through gymnasiums and the sight of footballs – deflated or otherwise – spiraling through the air.

Spring training is only about three weeks away and major league general managers have spent the past three months assembling their rosters.

Or, more accurately in the case of one particular GM, reading Canadian travel brochures and dreaming about the Great White North.

For the Baltimore Orioles, this has been a winter marked by, ahem, inactivity. Perhaps that was the plan all along. Or perhaps the club Dan Duquette has been focused on plays in Toronto.

At the end of last season, I remember reading a piece by a stathead who used analytics to explain why the Baltimore Orioles were the most likely 2014 playoff team to miss the postseason in 2015, based on the personnel losses the team was expected to suffer in the offseason.

I scoffed. Audibly.

"Nonsense," said I, certain there was absolutely no possibility the Orioles would fail to capitalize on all the positive strides made in 2014.

That pesky playoff flameout against the Royals notwithstanding, Baltimore arguably had the best team in the American League a year ago, particularly over the last two months of the season. The prospect of another AL East title in 2015 seemed not only possible but probable.

Sure, they had three high-profile free agents in slugger Nelson Cruz, reliever Andrew Miller and outfielder Nick Markakis, but surely they would sign one or two of those and use their MASN money and the extra revenue generated by their best attendance figures since 2005 to replace anyone they lost, possibly reloading by making their own splash in free agency.

That was in November.

Now it's nearly February. Don't I feel foolish.

Cruz, Miller and Markakis now reside in Seattle, New York and Atlanta, respectively. They've been replaced by ... by ... by ...

Wesley Wright. A left-handed set-up man. Who is 0-7 over the past two seasons.

He's a poor man's Andrew Miller, which is fitting, considering the Orioles are spending like a poor man's MLB team.

Yes, arbitration-eligible players like Matt Wieters and Chris Davis and others are getting raises. Hefty raises, in some cases. That happens everywhere.

But everywhere else teams are spending the offseason trying to, oh, I don't know, improve their rosters.

There is no way even the most diehard, orange-and-black-pom-pom-waving fan can make an argument that the Orioles have improved.

Oh, the argument can be made that the losses of Cruz (MLB-high 40 home runs), Miller (103 strikeouts in 62 1-3 innings) and Markakis (Gold Glove defense) can be offset by the expected returns of Wieters and Manny Machado and the expected return to form of Davis. (Note the use of the word "expected" twice in that sentence.)

But guess what? The presence of Cruz and/or Miller and/or Markakis would've done nothing to inhibit those expected returns.

Last year, the roster was so deep that Steve Pearce got cut in April. And Delmon Young was largely stuck on the bench. And that was even before they added outfielder Alejandro De Aza.