So those Grant Balfour negotiations took a little while, huh?
Wow, that was protracted. But in the end, I see it as a win for the Orioles. They now have a closer locked up for the next two years and Jim Johnson would have been a free agent after 2014.
At the projected salary for Johnson in 2014, the Orioles did save some money that can be used elsewhere and they may have upgraded the closer’s role.
I say may because Balfour will have to prove that he is better than Johnson. A 35-year-old right-hander, Balfour went 1-3 with a 2.59 ERA and 38 saves for Oakland last season. He averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Balfour was 38-of-41 in save chances in 2013 and 24-of-26 the year before. His combined 62-of-67 those two years produces a save percentage of 92.5 percent. Johnson went 101-for-113 the last two seasons for a percentage of 89.3 percent.
I think those who ripped Johnson for his nine blown saves will see Johnson rebound and have a very good year for Oakland in 2014. He is a solid closer, but Balfour gives up fewer hits and strikes out more. He is proven with a playoff contender.
Some fans love to see outward signs of intensity. They are going to see it big-time with Balfour, whose mound antics may tick off opponents, but I see O’s fans loving his enthusiasm. Now he just needs to be a shutdown closer. He certainly has the resume for the gig.
There was one addition and one subtraction Tuesday as Brian Roberts agreed to a contract with the Yankees.
Roberts’ tenure the last few years was rocky for some fans, who criticized him for his injuries and inability to play in games while collecting a big check. But I did admire Roberts’ determination to make it back and many fans were betting against his return last year.
Roberts was the face of this franchise at a time when they were a bad baseball team. But he represented himself, his city and his team well and is a future Orioles Hall of Famer.
With the small financial commitment New York made to him, I’m confused as to why the the O’s didn’t re-sign him, but in the end they did not and now he’s gone.
By the way, in this interview with Roberts on the second-to-last day of last season, he said then he would understand if the Orioles decided not to bring him back.
“Oh, sure. It’s business,” he said. “It is going to come at some point, whether it is now or later. I’m sure they would have good reasons for both, whether they want me back or don’t want me back. They don’t really have to have a good reason for me, to tell you the truth.
“I will be totally fine either way. Disappointed, maybe. But certainly no hard feelings or lack of understanding, you know.”
The ovations Roberts got at Camden Yards last year showed that the majority of fans appreciate what he did here and are B-Rob fans.
Years from now, when I think of Roberts, I’ll remember all the doubles and steals, the energy he brought, the class he carried himself with and those ovations as some fans let him know they liked him. Watching Roberts in pinstripes will sure take some getting used to.
Finally, I reported here yesterday that the O’s are looking to add B.J. Surhoff as a part-time instructor for their minor league staff. This would be a nice addition. Surhoff has done some work in the minors the last year or two and now is going to have an official paid position. He would likely be sent to work with specific players for specific reasons.
Those who have seen Surhoff work with young players in the past say he has a real no-nonsense approach. He tells the players what they need to hear, not what they want to hear, and he’ll get in someone’s face if he needs to. Surhoff will be an excellent addition on the O’s farm.