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Commentary: O's fans not feeling much love for offseason moves

When the Baltimore Orioles take the field in Sarasota, Fla., on Friday, Valentine's Day, Dan Duquette probably shouldn't expect roses and chocolates from fans.

Or a love song. Maybe Cee Lo's "Forget You," or, more likely, its less radio-friendly alternative.

Those candy hearts with the cute messages? Let's just say the ones sent to him won't exactly be "Be Mine."

The Orioles' general manager - yeah, his title is like 10 words long, but he's the GM, OK? - has been asking potential free agents to "Be Mine" all offseason. And all of his advances have been rejected, as he's having the kind of success former Orioles GM Syd Thrift was having when he famously wondered if he was using Confederate money.

Of course, the ones feeling the pain of unrequited love are the fans, who returned to Camden Yards the past two years, started watching again on TV, and regained the passion that was lost thanks to more than a decade of ineptitude.

That magical 2012 season won back their hearts and they stayed true even when the Orioles did zippo to improve before 2013. They were certain this offseason would be different.

Yet they'll see nothing funny on Valentine's Day, when pitchers and catchers take the field, knowing the team's most interesting offseason acquistions are a 28-year-old with 374 career at-bats (David Lough) and an Australian pitching prospect with a career record of 2-13 (Liam Hendriks).

They've added a few other spare parts, but here's who they've lost since the 2013 season: Jim Johnson, Scott Feldman, Nate McLouth and Brian Roberts. In MLB's toughest division, where everyone else gets better in the offseason, they got worse. This is how hearts get broken.

Sad part is, this was their window. Starting in 2012, with key players emerging, this was their time to make the playoffs several years in a row, to compete for a World Series title.

Instead, they've added no one to that great nucleus of Adam Jones, Chris Davis Matt Wieters, Manny Machado and Chris Tillman. They could lose J.J. Hardy to free agency after this year. Nick Markakis' option won't be picked up. Davis and Wieters will be free agents after 2015.

Their window is closing faster than Peter Angelos' wallet.

In 1998, the Orioles had MLB's highest team payroll. Since then, the Yankees' payroll has quadrupled. The Red Sox and Dodgers have tripled theirs.

The Orioles, meanwhile, have increased by a modest 20 percent. Know what's gone up a lot more than 20 percent in 15 years? Ticket prices. Cable bills. Gas needed to get to games.

Yet the Orioles, who have a sweetheart deal with MASN and saved big money by dealing Johnson, will walk onto the field on Valentine's Day with fewer weapons than they left with in 2013, having lost ground to their divisional rivals.

No candy or edible arrangements for Orioles fans that day, please. They're sick to their stomachs.

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