More on Feldman and McLouth, and a note on season ticket invoices

It's been interesting to track the reaction of fans after news broke today that Scott Feldman signed with the Astros and Nate McLouth agreed to terms with the Nationals.

Two players that the Orioles wanted to bring back, but only under their conditions. They didn't want to give Feldman three guaranteed years. They wanted to avoid giving McLouth two years at $10-$11 million.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette spoke to both agents and knew those players no longer were a fit based on what they were seeking in free agency.

I've read and heard the outrage over their departures, but I also recall how some fans were ready to blister the team if it brought back Feldman and McLouth instead of spending on significant upgrades.

So which is it? Bad they're gone or good that the Orioles didn't overpay for the same old players?

Feldman is getting $30 million from the Astros. That's the market today. Doesn't make it right, but that's the market. McLouth went from $2 million to almost $11 million (plus an option) after posting a .233/.304/.400 line in the second half, with only six of his 30 stolen bases.

McLouth hit .209 against left-handers. In an ideal arrangement, he'd be part of a platoon in left field or - as the Nats project him - a fourth outfielder.

McLouth will go down as one of my favorite players since I've been on the beat. Terrific guy. Polite, friendly, accessible, terrific sense of humor, unique taste in walk-up songs. He's going to be missed in the clubhouse, and he brought something to the table as a leadoff hitter. He played the game the right way, as they say.

That said, $11 million for McLouth is extreme and, yes, a signing of the times. Everyone is getting paid. Why not him?

The Orioles re-signed Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce to avoid arbitration. Henry Urrutia made a strong impression on team officials in the Arizona Fall League. Francisco Peguero took his physical today. But the Orioles are still in the market for an outfielder. They're not crossing it off their shopping list before the Winter Meetings.

Nelson Cruz remains on the radar and I still don't consider him a good match. Carlos Beltran worked for me despite his age, and he certainly got their interest, but he reportedly has agreed to a three-year, $45 million deal with the Yankees.

You knew they were going to fire back after losing Robinson Cano, right?

Despite his poor splits this season, Shin-Soo Choo would give the Orioles a left fielder, leadoff hitter and excellent OBP guy. He makes the most sense. They just have to outbid the deep-pocketed teams.

Sigh.

I asked Duquette earlier this week if he had closed the door on bringing back any of the former Orioles on the free agent market, including Feldman, McLouth, Brian Roberts and Jason Hammel, or whether they were all in play.

"I'm not talking about free agents, either our guys or other guys," he said, keeping the same stance. "The players who played on our team last year are free agents, just like everybody else. We're going to continue to sign players to staff the team."

I floated Cruz's name and the media outlets connecting him to the Orioles.

"Interesting," Duquette replied. "We've talked to a number of agents, we've talked to a number of teams about potential trades. We're doing that all the time."

Meanwhile, the Orioles mailed out invoices today to their season-ticket plan holders.

Next year, they will have five different tiers of tickets for their 81 home games - six "value" games, 49 "classic", seven "select", 14 "prime" and five "elite," which will bring the highest cost. More than half the teams in the majors half have implemented this system. It's trendy.

The six value dates are April 14-16 versus the Rays and Sept. 15-17 versus the Blue Jays. The elite dates are the March 31 season opener against the Red Sox, July 12 versus the Yankees, Aug. 9 versus the Cardinals, Sept. 13 versus the Yankees and Sept. 20 versus the Red Sox.

Overall, the price of tickets for season plan holders will go up about 5 percent, the first increase since 2008 (some categories haven't increased in more than 10 years.) As it's been explained to me, more than two-thirds of the games went down in price for season plan holders, but the increase in other games accounts for the 5 percent.

Something like that. I'm not good at math.

Season plan holders will still pay an average of about 20 percent less than individual game buyers for a similar seat.

Season tickets start at $168 for 13-game plan and increase from there.

The Orioles have implemented "dynamic pricing" for individual games, with the cost varying depending on the market demand. Think airline tickets. Same idea.

This is another system that's been implemented by other teams.



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