Unlike the past few off-seasons where the Orioles got the Ryan Freels of the world, December 2009 has been a lot different.
Did we get the big names on the market, um no; however, it looks Baltimore is taking steps to improve their product for the better in order to compete in the AL East.
Now, the Orioles may have found a solution at third base — Garrett Atkins. Although he struggled last year and his numbers may have been inflated somewhat because of playing in Colorado, Baltimore believes that he’s the answer at the plate in 2010..
Filling two of their biggest offseason needs, the Orioles on Wednesday agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez and a one-year pact with third baseman Garrett Atkins, according to industry sources.
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Atkins, 30, was nontendered by the Colorado Rockies on Saturday and immediately became a fairly hot target, drawing interest from 10 or more teams, according to his agent, Jeff Blanks.
He intrigues the Orioles because he can play both first and third base, and the club has openings at each spot – at least until minor league prospects Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell are deemed ready.
But what most interests the Orioles about Atkins is his right-handed power bat, something the club sorely lacked in 2009. Atkins had a down year last season, hitting nine home runs with 48 RBIs and a .226 average while playing half his games at hitter-friendly Coors Field. He temporarily lost his starting job and registered just 354 at-bats, the first time since 2004 he didn’t have at least 500 at-bats.
From 2006 to 2008, however, Atkins was one of the National League‘s better young sluggers, totaling more than 20 homers and 99 or more RBIs each season. His best year was 2006, when he batted .329 with 29 homers and 120 RBIs.
I have really liked what the Orioles have done to improve the squad, getting some bonafied major leaguers to mix in with the young up-and-comers with the Orioles. It looks like the future is now promising in Baltimore, but more can be done. Anyhow, I don’t see the team being done quite yet wheeling and dealing.
Some want the Orioles to go for the jugular and get Adrian Gonzalez (that would be amazing), However, right now let’s give Andy MacPhail and the brain trust all the praise in the world for going out and being aggressive. Who knows if the Orioles will shape up to be contenders this season it not, but certainly, they look a lot better now than they did in 2009.
Also, it looks like the city will have a statue erected of Brooks Robinson at a site near Camden Yards. Great news and a deserved honor for a legend…