I can remember back at the end of last year’s baseball Winter Meetings. The Los Angeles Angels were hailed as smart and aggressive, and given the mantel as 2012 American League favorites.
They spent nearly $320 million on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. New general manager Jerry Dipoto and owner Arte Moreno really wanted to win. Their fans loved that duo. Why didn’t Dipoto come here, some O’s fans wondered. The Angels had a press conference that was basically a pep rally to introduce Pujols.
Now they will be sitting home while the Orioles are moving on to the playoffs.
The Angels got off a 6-14 start and, in the end, that was a damning 20-game stretch. Instead of basking in the glow of success, Moreno has spent time recently answering questions about whether Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia will return next year.
It seems the 2012 Angels are another lesson - the latest - that money can’t buy pennants. How many phone calls on radio shows did I take over the years where fans said O’s owner Peter Angelos would truly prove he wants to win when and only when he spends big on a player?
I would point out he did spend on Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts, plus big on draft picks like Matt Wieters, Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy. No, the O’s didn’t have any $100 million or more players.
The 2012 Orioles are a true team. They play well together, they like each other and they have great chemistry. By the way, they have talent too and are not some band of misfits. While that would make for a good story, it is not at all accurate.
Pujols has 30 homers, and that is two fewer than Jones and Chris Davis. No one has more than Jim Johnson’s 50 saves. But the best stat for the Orioles is their team win total.
Wei-Yin Chen leads the O’s with 12 wins. There are 16 AL pitchers with more. Chris Davis leads the club with 84 RBIs. There are 18 players with more.
Buck Showalter has called the Orioles a “sum-of-the-parts team,” which is meant as a compliment and not a take on any lack of talent. You can’t win 92 games due to luck or great chemistry alone. Sorry, Bobby V.
Let’s not be naive. Spending big money can help. Pretty sure the Yankees enjoyed having their $23 million dollar man on the mound last night. But the Rays and now the Orioles have proven you can contend in the AL East without matching the big spenders dollar-for-dollar.
As an O’s fan, I would take some satisfaction in that.