• May

    Lack of Passion is Just Part of Problem

    After reading Kevin Millar's comments to MLB.com on the heals of Leo Mazzone's assessment that his starters "lack passion" it's becoming obvious that this team is in major, major trouble. We knew on paper before the season started that the team did not have enough talent, but we were promised by VP of Baseball operation Mike Flanagan that he was putting a team together. He told us it was about the chemistry as much as the stats and he was bringing "team" guys in. Maybe he did, but maybe one of the problems was the guys already on the club?

    Now it's impossible to know for sure which players are the problems in the clubhouse unless you are in the clubhouse on a daily basis, and not just when the press is in there. However, Millar is coming from a winning program in Boston and one thing is for sure, there's difference within the clubhouses of the two organization and appears to go deeper than talent.

    Certainly winnings cures a lot of problems, and the lack of talent can certainly take most of the blame, but there's certainly a problem with Chemistry if Millar's comments mean anything. 

    "You need to talk the game, you need to pick each other up, you need to pat each other on the back. You need to talk about what the [opposing] pitcher has, have guys come up to each other and say, 'This is what he's throwing,'" he told MLB.com in an interview. "That can go on on the plane -- whether you're playing cards -- and getting camaraderie together. That's the thing we lack."

    Some people on the Hangout message board have started to wonder if some of the blame falls on Miguel Tejada. After asking to be traded this off season after the Orioles failed to significantly improve the club either by free agency or trade, some people have wondered if Tejada was a team player.

    In my opinion though, Tejada is just plain tired of losing. He never lost year after year until coming here. He's a high motor guy, but I tell you what, when you care about winning, losing really, really starts to annoy you and it can affect your own passion. I personally think that's what happened to him the second half of last year. Once the team went into a tailspin it was, "Here we go again."

    It's hard to blame him. I know he's being paid a lot of money and I certainly expect 100 percent all the time, but he's a human being and I can't expect him to be cheerleading every game when the O's are heading to their 9th straight losing season. The Orioles are now 23-28 (.451) which translates to 73-89 over 162 games dooming them to their 9th straight losing season and even worse, their third straight year in which they've had worse records. That's a bad trend folks, and no matter how much you love the game, that will get you down.

    I've been saying for a long time that this team needed a new personality; a complete makeover. Unfortunately, the Orioles management keeps putting band aids on problems while keeping the core together, including the coaching staff. The Orioles have never had just blown things up and tried a different way. Look at the Tigers, they were the laughing stocks of the American league a few years ago after blowing things up but now they have the best record in the AL. It takes guts and risk taking to do that, and it appears the Orioles' overall lack of both continues to haunt them year after year.

    When I w as growing up, I could never understand how people could be a Cleveland Indians fan because they always seemed to have losing records. Well folks, we're the new version of the 1970's Cleveland Indians.

    Is there hope, I certainly hope so, but like I've been saying even before this season started, this team is not very good and hoping the farm is going to sprouting superstars when it hasn't produced one since Cal Ripken is certainly not going to give the common fan hope. Yes, Hayden Penn, Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold, Radhames Liz, Adam Loewen and Garrett Olson give us hope that we may have some talent on the way in the next few years, but the organization needs to change the philosophy that it can change the market to fit it's needs each year because clearly, it doesn't.

    Working to improve through the farm is all well and good, but the organization needs to learn how to use those assets while their value is at their highest. That means finding organizations with players blocked at positions we need (1B, OF, DH) while moving some excess pitching prospects. You have to give quality to get quality. Even more importantly, you have to take risk.

    After nine years of losing, you would think that taking risk would be easy. What's the worse thing that can happen? Another losing season? Well, we're use to that by now unfortunately.

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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.