It was president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail who decided this offseason to give Garrett Atkins a $4 million, one-year deal (with a guaranteed $500,000 buyout on a second year).
So it's MacPhail who has to stand up and take the heat as the Orioles designated Atkins for assignment on Sunday to make room for Koji Uehara to be activated from the disabled list.
Needing right-handed power at the corner infield positions, and hoping that Atkins could rekindle his 2006-2008 years in Colorado, where he had at least 21 homers and 99 RBIs each season, the Orioles signed Atkins, who had been non-tendered by the Rockies after hitting just .226 with nine homers in 2009.
"I think we used the term that we had to take some chances and sometimes you have to swing for the fences," MacPhail said. "We knew, obviously, that (Atkins') 2009 performance was not nearly what it had been in 08 and 07. We were gambling we could measure up to that, which we couldn't do. We gambled and we lost."
Atkins, 30, batted .214 (30 for 140) with one homer and nine RBIs. He lost his starting first baseman's spot to Ty Wigginton, who moved over from second base, and had just 14 at-bats in June.
With the addition of infielders Jake Fox and Scott Moore to the roster, Atkins wasn't even being used off the bench much.
"The opportunity for him was going to start to dwindle because we have Jake Fox, we have Scott Moore, and neither one of them started the year on our 25-man roster," MacPhail said. "They make more sense for us as extra guys because they have more flexibility. Jake can catch and play left and first and third and Scott can play second and third and first. So when he didn't produce offensively, he wasn't as valuable to us as the other guys and it was time to admit that it didn't work and move on."
Assuming the Orioles cannot trade Atkins in the next 10 days, they will be forced to release him or put him on waivers. If he is not claimed, the Orioles would have to eat the remainder of his 2010 salary – which, with the buyout – is about $2.5 million.
MacPhail said the club is willing to live with that reality.
"Economically, in our game, it was not a huge gamble," MacPhail said. "I have a saying, there's no such thing as a bad one year deal because then you are out of it. So we had to take a chance. "