Andy MacPhail’s foresight was evident again this week. In 2009, the Orioles were lagging on the field and at the gate, and MacPhail chose to keep Matt Wieters, who could obviously help the team, in the minors long enough to ensure that the team could get an extra year of service before he was eligible for free agency.
With that in mind, let’s look at 10 important moves MacPhail made as team president to help make the Orioles contenders.
August 15, 2007-Signed Wieters
The Orioles were reluctant to do business with Scott Boras, but MacPhail changed that. At the signing deadline, he agreed to a $6 million signing bonus for a player who’s turned out to be the best catcher In Orioles history. Wieters was actually drafted two weeks before MacPhail joined the team, but it was he who signed him.
December 12, 2007-Traded Miguel Tejada to the Houston Astros
It wasn’t so much that the haul for Tejada was great. Tejada had two more years on his contract, and his performance was lagging. The Orioles needed financial flexibility, and he was a polarizing presence in the clubhouse.
They got five players for Tejada. Three of them, Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate and Luke Scott were useful when the team was just trying to improve. A fourth, Troy Patton was there when they began to contend.
February 8, 2008-Traded Erik Bedard to the Seattle Mariners
After getting rid of Tejada, MacPhail pulled off one of the best trades in recent baseball history. Bedard had won 28 games in the two seasons before the trade, but what a haul MacPhail got!
Adam Jones, Chris Tillman and George Sherrill were three of the five players, and they’ve all been All-Stars. MacPhail flipped Sherrill, who was at the top of his game to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July 2009 for Steve Johnson and Josh Bell.
January 12, 2009-Koji Uehara signs
The Orioles weren’t a player in the Asian market until MacPhail signed Uehara. It wasn’t until the Orioles made Uehara a reliever that he began showing signs that he could be a dominant player.
But, Uehara’s real value for the Orioles would come 2 ½ years after he signed.
May 29, 2009-Wieters makes Orioles debut
By delaying Wieters debut until late May, he ended up giving the team an extra year before he was eligible for free agency. Had Wieters started 2009 with the team, he’d have only one year left before free agency.
July 23, 2009-Orioles reach agreement with Sarasota for new spring training home.
The most underrated accomplished of MacPhail’s 4 ½ year tenure was the long-term agreement he helped negotiate to move the Orioles’ spring training home from dilapidated Fort Lauderdale Stadium to Sarasota.
The Orioles’ minor leaguers are just a few miles away, making it easy to look at more players and Ed Smith Stadium is one of the best venues in the Grapefruit League.
Even better, the Orioles are close to more teams in Sarasota. In Fort Lauderdale, their nearest opponent was an hour away.
June 7, 2010-Drafted Manny Machado
Holding the third pick in the draft, the Orioles had no shot at Bryce Harper, so they had to “settle” for Machado, whose brilliance was evident in his big league promotion a little over two years later.
Again, MacPhail shelled out major bucks, $5.25 million for Machado, and it’s been worth it.
August 2, 2010-Buck Showalter makes debut
After enduring nearly three years of Dave Trembley, MacPhail conducted a lengthy in-season search for a new manager. He chose Showalter, who was eager to return to the major leagues after 3 ½ seasons on the sidelines.
Showalter was perfect for the Orioles and for Baltimore, and he’s been the most popular manager since Earl Weaver.
December 9, 2010-J.J. Hardy acquired from Minnesota
The Orioles needed a shortstop and Hardy was available from the Twins for two nonentities, Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson.
Hardy has won two Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. He also signed a below-market three-year extension in July 2011.
July 30, 2011-Traded Uehara to Texas for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter
Uehara pitched well in a setup role, but the Rangers thought they needed him in their playoff push. Davis had nowhere to play and Hunter was a fringe starter.
Hunter was thought of as the deal’s big catch. He’d pitched in the World Series the year before. Davis was an unproven player.
In games at third and first, Davis was unexciting in his two Orioles months, but since then has made a special place in Orioles history.
MacPhail needed to convince Peter Angelos to pay some of Uehara’s salary, and once he did the deal was made.
At the end of the season, MacPhail was gone, but his legacy is a wonderful one.