Over at FanGraphs, they’ve been ranking the organizations one by one based on Ownership, Front Office, and Major and Minor League Talent. After so many losing seasons, every time the next team is revealed (they started at #30 – Washington) I expect it to be Baltimore. Well that day has finally arrived, with the O’s placing at #16.
Ownership: C. Basically, Peter Angelos has been meddlesome in the past but not since Andy MacPhail took over. If he keeps it up then the O’s are in a good position, having an owner that “wants to win and is willing to spend money to do so” but will let the baseball people make the baseball decisions. Can’t argue with that.
Front Office: B. It’s been bad in the past, but not since Andy MacPhail took over. He’s doing good things and taking the team in the right direction. The O’s are the first team to receive such a high grade in this category. Depending on what the scale looks like (who gets a B+, A-, etc.) and how MacPhail handles the move from 70-75 win team to 85-90 win team, this may need to be adjusted some (probably up).
Major League Talent: B-. “I don’t know if people realize it or not, but this team actually isn’t bad. Not just for the future, but right now… Honestly the Orioles could probably contend in the AL West this year – their division will hold them back, but the talent base is in place for a good run.” Ding, ding, ding. Markakis, Roberts, Jones are all-star players. Huff, Scott, Pie, and Mora are OK. Guthrie can pitch, and there is some potential behind him in Hill, Uehara, etc. There are many holes on the roster, but not nearly as many as their were even a few of years ago.
Minor League Talent: A-. “Matt Wieters Swings Both Ways? No. Both Ways Swing Matt Wieters.” “Matt Wieters Has Hit A 5-Run Homerun. Twice.” So this Wieters kid is pretty good. The O’s also have multiple tiers of pitchers, with Erbe, Hernandez, etc. coming in behind Tillman, Matusz, and Arrieta. A large part of the core of the next good O’s team is in the minors right now, and quickly approaching.
Overall: B-. Many years of sucking is hard to get over, but Wieters-Jones-Markakis is a great core and the pitching is on the way. The AL East is a tough division, but soon (maybe even 2010) the O’s will be good again.
I’m surprised that the Mariners (who haven’t been mentioned yet) are ranked ahead of the Birds., but I can’t really complain about the #16 spot. Of the 15 teams ranked above the Orioles (NYY, BOS, TBR, CLE, LAA, OAK, SEA, TEX, NYM, PHI, ATL, CHC, MIL, LAD, ARI), only the Rangers and the A’s haven’t been over .500 in at least one of the past two season (Texas was 89-73 in 2004, and Oakland was 93-69 in 2006). That means that of all the crappy organizations recently, the O’s are the best (and trending upward). Yaye!
[Edit: The M's got a B,B,C+,C+,B- vs. C,B,B-,A-,B- for the O's. The Mariners have a better owner, but the O's edge them out everywhere else. I'm not saying that the guy doing the rankings (Dave Cameron, also of USSMariner) is biased, but I think flipping the two is probably more correct. Especially since the difference in divisions is a large part the reason that Seattle as more likely to be competitive sooner.]