Read it and weep....
Orioles plan to be busy at winter meetings
By DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer
December 9, 2003
BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Baltimore Orioles are preparing for a shopping spree, one that could land them Vladimir Guerrero and Javy Lopez.
There's no guarantee that either player will end up in Baltimore, but the Orioles will try their best to sign high-profile free agents.
``I think our idea is to make the club as strong as we can this year, then build on that,'' vice president Jim Beattie said Tuesday.
No longer burdened by the hefty contracts of Albert Belle and Scott Erickson, the Orioles will arrive at the winter meetings Friday in New Orleans with an open wallet and an open mind.
``We're very serious about improving the ballclub, and we have the resources to do it,'' Beattie said.
At the top of the list is Guerrero, 27, who was not offered salary arbitration by the Montreal Expos.
``You put Vladimir Guerrero in any lineup in baseball, and he improves the club tremendously,'' Beattie said. ``He's a great player; he does things offensively, he does things defensively, he plays with a lot of intensity. He's a tremendous athlete to watch.''
Beattie declined to specify exactly which players the Orioles are pursuing, but he cited catcher, outfielder and 3-4-5 hitters among the team's needs.
Guerrero, an outfielder, and Lopez, a catcher, would fit perfectly in a lineup that ranked 11th among the 14 AL teams in home runs. Lopez hit 43 homers for Atlanta last season and Guerrero had 25 home runs along with a .330 batting average.
Baltimore also is interested in shortstop Miguel Tejada.
``There is a handful of guys that are priorities for us,'' he said. ``We're not going to sign all of them, but we do have a good amount of money to improve the club.''
No one would blame the Orioles for being fearful of offering a long-term contract to Guerrero or anyone else, given that Belle and Erickson didn't reach the end of their pacts before injuries forced them out.
But Beattie wouldn't dismiss the idea of offering a long deal, saying, ``We're not cutting anything out. Six years? I'd rather not, but every player and situation is different.''
The Orioles may not be good enough to overtake New York and Boston in the AL East, but it won't be for lack a lack of resources.
``In the end, there will be a feeling that this is a much improved ballclub,'' Beattie said. ``I just don't know it could be anything but, given the situation and the opportunities we have.''