There's no question the Birds had one of the best nucleuses (or nuclei, if you're reading this on the Hopkins campus) in the bigs, but they lacked some essential ganglia (it's a word. Look it up. And if you do, let me know if I used it right) to make these Birds a team that could compete in the stacked AL East, and no one, least of all me, thought they'd spend the cash required to make this a complete club. I mean, as Jack Frost spent the winter giving the mid-Atlantic a less than jolly rogering, the O's offseason was shaping up like a wretched repeat of the previous 13, dating back to the loss of Mike Mussina and the unofficial start of the Orioles' Dark Ages. Winter kicked off with the loss of 50-save closer Jim Johnson and crescendoed with a hinky medical report, like so many before, putting the kibosh on the signing of Balfour, Johnson's presumed replacement. Rumors swirled, of course, as they always do-the Birds were going after Bronson Arroyo and Shin-Soo Choo, and those rumors flopped, as they always do. But through it all, O's de facto GM Duquette swore the Orioles were still looking, and they were going to spend big-boy money. Here's the crazy part: It happened!