Orioles fail to land prime free agents

Originally Published: January 26, 2005
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider

"The plan is still in effect. The next phase is this fall. Going into next season, we want to be right on the heels of the Yankees and the Red Sox … or right in their faces.
Orioles owner Peter Angelos to the Baltimore Sun on Sept. 28, 2004

No offense to Steve Kline, Steve Reed, Jay Witasick, Enrique Wilson, Chris Gomez or Chris Stynes, but they're not the type of acquisitions that Baltimore baseball fans had in mind when the owner was talking all brash and tough at the end of last season.

Peter Angelos no doubt believed he had reason to be bold in September, when the Orioles were on the verge of finishing above fourth place in the American League East for the first time in seven years and closing in on 78 victories. That total, while modest, was the franchise's best single-season output since 1999. More important, Angelos also thought the Orioles were near a settlement with Major League Baseball that would compensate him for financial losses his team would incur with the pending move of the Montreal Expos to Washington D.C.

Welcome to a rough winter, Baltimore style. Four months later there's no settlement in place, and Angelos is getting crankier by the minute with commissioner Bud Selig's office. The Orioles are citing a study by the Deloitte consulting firm that estimates the Washington Nationals will put a $20-30 million annual crimp in their revenue. The hit encompasses everything from cable TV money to hot dog sales to the potential value of the Orioles in the event of a sale, and it's prompted Angelos to sing a different tune. He's now portraying himself as the voice of fiscal reason and the defender of the common man.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer