Well, if you were hoping for a huge overhaul in the Orioles system, it doesn't appear to be coming. The Orioles have gotten rid of Jim Beattie, promoting Mike Flanagan to the sole general manager position, and they have removed the interim tag from Sam Perlozzo's title.
There is an article with a lot of (mostly very angry) feedback on The Baltimore Sun's Web site. That's eight years of frustration coming out at once, I guess. (Scroll down and look on the left for the user comments.)
I'm not psyched about this news, but I don't think it's a guarantee that Orioles baseball is dead for years to come, either. Peter Angelos keeps claiming that he's ready to open the purse strings, and we'll see if that comes true and they go after some free agents. I urge O's fans to realize, though, that immediate help is NOT on the way. The free agent pitching market just isn't that strong. PLEASE, Flanny, DON'T OVERPAY FOR A.J. BURNETT, or worse, Kevin Millwood, Jeff Weaver or Jason Schmidt. The pitching is NOT available. Get some bats and worry about pitching next year (or trade for it, if you can).
Perlozzo is great friends with Leo Mazzone (of the Braves ... hardly arguable as the best pitching coach in all of baseball), who claimed a while back that his career won't be complete until he was Sammy P's pitching coach. Well, time to make that happen, Leo!
As for Beattie, it was pointed out by one disgruntled fan on The Sun's site that Beattie's one job was to sign Vladimir Guerrero. I had never thought of it that way, but I think that may be a difficult assessment to dismiss. He had signed him in Montreal, and everyone, EVERYONE, knew that it was Tejada and Guerrero that the O's wanted in that 2003 offseason. They got half of it done hoping it would lead to the other half, but there was no such luck. I contend that we may (not WOULD, but MAY) have made the playoffs this year with Guerrero. (Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, replace Sammy Sosa's numbers with Vlad's.)
The outlook for this offseason is intriguing. No more Sosa, Ponson, Palmeiro or Surhoff, and Byrnes is probably gone, too. There is also some talk that super-talented but under-motivated Luis Matos may be non-tendered (if it's any consolation to you Luis, my mom still thinks your cute). That's a LOT of loose change the O's are collecting that can then be spent on other players. Plus, trades aren't out of the question.
Down on the farm, the O's have several hot prospects, especially in the outfield. Nick Markakis should not be ignored as a possible Major Leaguer next year, especially if the O's can add a powerful outfielder to take some of the pressure off of him.
Right now, this is what the Orioles are looking at:
C: Javy Lopez
2B: Brian Roberts
3B: Melvin Mora
SS: Miguel Tejada
RF: Jay Gibbons
SP2: Erik Bedard
SP3: Bruce Chen
SP4: Rodrigo Lopez
SP5: Daniel Cabrera
I'll leave off the bullpen, but O's fans are spending WAY too much time harping on the possible loss of B.J. Ryan. Would he be great to have back? Yes. Is it the end of our future hopes if the O's don't have him back? No. Is there any chance he'll actually sign with Baltimore? Realistically? Probably not. Chris Ray, Tim Byrdak, Todd Williams, Aaron Rakers ... the nature of relief pitching is that your unheralded guys end up doing just as well, if not better, than your high-paid signings (Steve Kline, Steve Reed).
So who's available? Brian Giles in LF/RF, Paul Konerko at 1B, Olmedo Saenz at DH (and cheap!). But I'm not the GM. Hey Flanny, dig deep, find us some gems, sign us some people. Let's play competitive baseball!!!
Let the joy that is offseason speculation begin.