Great job on Atkins, not so much on Gonzalez
Andy MacPhail certainly has been busy, with the Baltimore Sun reporting the O’s adding Garrett Atkins and Mike Gonzalez, both players in their prime age and some of the better players of the free agent market. One move I am very happy about, the signing of Atkins, the other not so much, that being Gonzalez.
Garrett Atkins is a third baseman that was in the Rockies system for years. Last year he had a very poor season, hitting just .226 with nine home runs in 126 games. The previous three years he had at least 20 dingers and at least a .286 average. But this is a good move. The deal is for one-year, which means he is a stopgap at third, giving Josh Bell another year of seasoning before coming to the majors. Plus Atkins is only 30, and of his five full years of major league play only one, last year, was a bad one. Sure he played in hitter-friendly Coors Field, but Camden is just as good, and the Orioles might have found a sleeper in free agency. If nothing else, he is relatively injury-free the last five years and he can also play first base, another Orioles need.
Mike Gonzalez, 31, is a lefty reliever that was the Braves setup man last year that had experience as a closer in Pittsburgh. Last season he appeared in 80 games in 74.1 innings with a 2.42 ERA and a 90-33 K-BB ratio. He is a very good lefty relievers that will compete for the Orioles closer position and will at least solidify a bullpen spot. But I have a few problems with the deal. By signing him, the Orioles lose their second-round pick in the upcoming draft because Gonzalez was a type-A free agent. The MLB Draft is a crap shoot but it is a high price to pay for a short reliever in the bullpen, especially with a farm system that needs work at the lower levels. Plus, he will make at least six million a year for the next two years; again a high price for the Orioles. If Gonzalez does not become the Orioles closer, then this deal would not be worth it, and right now that role looks like it is a three-way race between Gonzalez, Jim Johnson, and Koji Uehara.
If nothing else, it seems as if Andy MacPhail is spending money the smart way, and getting the right personnel and not rushing up Norfolk prospects. The 2010 season will still be rough, especially with the NY-Boston arms race heating up, but the team is getting better the right way.
Blog from Dave Vatz 09 Terrapin Grad