Baltimore Sun

Who was the Orioles' best acquisition of the offseason?

The offseason grades are in for the Orioles and Andy MacPhail, and they look a lot like my high school and college transcripts.

Lots of Bs and Cs with the occasional A and angry F tossed in.


Seems like most of you were realistic about what the Orioles were going to accomplish this winter. And that was reflected in your grades at the bar Tuesday.

Halfway through correcting Tuesday's exam, the Orioles added infielder Ty Wigginton, which might or might not have altered some of your early grades.


For the record, I like the Wigginton move. He's another gritty professional and the Orioles signed him for $6 million over two years -- a bargain considering he had a good year in 2008 and made $4.35 million.

The problem is the signing of Wigginton is a great addition for a legitimate contender that needs to build its depth. For the Orioles, Wigginton, 31, is going to be viewed as another stopgap move.

He's not an answer for 2011, and he's not a difference-maker right now. He's just a good, solid player on a team that doesn't have enough overall talent to hang with the big boys in the American League East.

So, in that sense, I rank Wigginton tied for fifth in the Orioles acquisitions this offseason.

To me, the best move was trading for outfielder Felix Pie. Garrett Olson was not primed to do anything special in the AL East. And Pie never got a sustained opportunity with the Chicago Cubs.

Pie's young (he turns 24 Sunday), cheap and has a whole lot of upside. He could be good now and special in the future. He may be a bust, but these are exactly the risks the Orioles need to take.

The rest of my Top 5 Orioles acquisitions this winter:

No 2 – RHP Koji Uehara. At the worst he fills out the rotation and gives you a starting point in Japan. At the best, he is a rock in the middle of the rotation and gives you a serious fan base in Japan.


No. 3 – SS Cesar Izturis. He, like Wigginton, is a stopgap who is here for two years and likely won't be around when the Orioles are ready to compete. But his defense – and trust me, you'll be impressed by it – will help the young pitchers so much. It's a lot easier to pitch to contact when you know the ball will be caught behind you.

No. 4 – LHP Rich Hill. Like his former teammate Pie, this is exactly the kind of risks the Orioles have to take: Younger players with good upside and falling stock. But unlike Pie, Hill, 28, got the opportunity in Chicago and lost it due to ineffectiveness (an inability to throw strikes). It was a great pickup with no real cost (a player to be named), but it also has less chance to pan out than the above.

No. 5 – Wigginton/Ryan Freel/Gregg Zaun. Three professionals who will give it their all. They aren't going to win a title for a team like the Orioles, but they won't frustrate you either.

Daily Think Special: Who was the Orioles' best acquisition this winter? And why? Rank a Top Five if you like.

Vote for your favorite O's offseason acquisition in a poll.