Ken Rosenthal discusses O's, Angelos and '09 season

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal is among the very best baseball writers around. A former Sun columnist, he still lives in the Baltimore area and is still quite familiar with the hometown team. In a recent column, he placed the Orioles in his "No Hope Division," saying: "Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson in the same rotation — shouldn't that be illegal? Catcher Matt Wieters is coming, followed by a slew of promising young arms in 2010." He was on hand for the Orioles' opener against the Yankees yesterday and recently agreed to answer a series of questions from the Toy Department. 

Question: Before we talk Orioles, how do you see the AL East shaping up this season?


Rosenthal: A three-way race, obviously, and I really like Tampa Bay's chances of repeating. The Rays have fewer age/health questions than both the Yankees and Red Sox, and their offense should only get better; players such as B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford stand to improve significantly over last season, and now the team has added Pat Burrell, Gabe Kapler and Matt Joyce. The Rays' pitching is deep - see David Price, Triple A - and their defense is the best in the league. The bullpen could be an issue, but the Rays are my pick not to just win the division, but also the World Series. Which means they will probably finish last.

Question: What has the most potential to be the biggest fiasco of 2009: Manny, A-Rod or the new Yankee Stadium?

Question: Were you surprised at how free agency unfolded and some of the dollar figures that were tossed around? If attendance is really down all across baseball, how much different will next offseason be?


Question: Since you still live in the area, do you and your family ever come to the ballpark, buy a few hot dogs and enjoy a game from the stands? I mean, it's not American Idol, but it's still not a bad way to waste an evening, is it?

Question: Is the man-crush the city of Baltimore has developed on Matt Wieters warranted? And how long until we see that guy at Camden Yards?

Question: I have to ask you about Peter Angelos. We had a post last week pointing out that the Orioles owner once said your writing represents "the caterwaulings of an insolent twit whose journalistic fulminations vilify and randomly splatter written bile upon those with whom, in his distorted state of mind, he disagrees." Thirteen years have passed – have you ever apologized to him for your crimes against journalism?

Question: OK, so you probably don't have a regular dinner date with Angelos in Little Italy. But when you left the Sun and became more of a national reporter, I presume you were exposed to a lot more owners and front-office officials. How did this change your perspective on Angelos and what he'd done to the franchise?

Question: All of that said, you've got to like some of the moves Andy MacPhail has made. You once wrote -- about a different man in a different decade -- that "Angelos and his sons likely will treat their new director of baseball operations as a puppet." So are you surprised MacPhail has been given a long leash? And what do you see happening with this team over the next 3-4 years?

Question: You wrote extensively a couple of years ago about the Nationals and their development as an organization. MacPhail has also taken a ground-up approach in Baltimore (though this franchise has existed here for more than a half-century). Do you see any similarities or dissimilarities between how the Nats and Orioles are growing their respective franchises?

Question: Any sense for whether or not Dave Trembley has the chops to be a big-league manager for a long time? And does Angelos have the patience to allow Trembley to grow and develop? (As a reminder, here's what you wrote after Davey Johnson parted ways with the club: "Angelos has finally done it, embarrassing himself and his once-proud organization, antagonizing the fans he claims to care so deeply about, losing the American League Manager of Year. If Angelos owned Disney World, he'd fire Mickey Mouse. If Angelos owned the Rolling Stones, he'd fire Mick Jagger. If Angelos had owned the Sistine Chapel way back when, he would have fired Michelangelo.")

Rosenthal: Well, that was true at the time -- Johnson had his faults, but the Orioles are the only team in major league history to have a manager resign on the day he was named Manager of the Year. Yes, it was that bad, that embarrassing. The atmosphere around the club is different now, in large part because of MacPhail, who is extremely patient and loyal.

Question: You're on TV, radio and all over the Internet. Do you miss anything about your days as a Sun writer when you'd come to the yard every day and have just one team to worry about? What was that period like?


Question: OK, enough with the Orioles. Do you think today's NFL writers will be flogged the same way baseball beat writers of the 1990s have been? If you presume that at least some football players are using performance-enhancing substances, the lack of 'gotcha' reporting seems to shed light on how difficult and complex the issue is today ... and how thorny it was a decade ago.

Question: I recall you saying you wouldn't vote for Mark McGwire as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. You didn't vote for him last year either. Do you see yourself changing your mind down the road? And what's your current game plan for Bonds, Clemens and Rodriguez?