The Sun asked readers for their opinions on the Orioles' dramatic roster changes, and they responded in a big way. Here are some of the best responses:
O's hit an all-time low
The Orioles' organization has hit an all-time low with the signing of Albert Belle. While Belle is a very talented and gifted player, he does not deserve the right to play major-league baseball, let alone wear the Orioles uniform.
The desire to win has clouded owner Peter Angelos' eyes and he is willing to sign a player who is the exact opposite of what the Orioles stand for. While everyone is human and capable of making mistakes, Belle has been a repeat offender and has a pretty extensive list of offenses.
I will always be an Orioles fan, but I will not attend another Orioles game as long as Belle is here.
In this case, winning is not everything.
Nice guys finish last
Suppose Ty Cobb were alive today and a free agent. Would he be rejected by the club owners because he was a mean guy?
The Orioles need more guys like Albert Belle. OK, he's overpaid like the rest of the sports world, but at least he comes to the ballpark each game to give it all he's got, and if he fails that day, he gets mad and breaks a few light bulbs and scowls at the media in the process.
Those nice guys on the Orioles always finish last.
Take a walk -- literally
Somebody had better tell Albert Belle to be patient. All he can look forward to this season is an automatic trot to first base. I wouldn't be surprised if he leads the league in walks. A manager wouldn't be out of line by ordering Belle walked with the bases loaded to prevent a big inning.
The Orioles' milquetoast, nonsupporting lineup wouldn't scare a mouse. Help is on the way -- but not until the following year, when fledgling performers in the minors start paying dividends.
Addition by subtraction
I applaud the signing of Albert Belle. Getting rid of Roberto Alomar, Armando Benitez and Rafael Palmeiro is addition by subtraction. All three were more interested in "me" rather than "we."
Granted, Palmeiro's bat will be missed, but I'd rather see a team on the field that overachieves rather than what we had in 1998.
Angel Mata Jr.
Lineup 'absolutely stupid'
I was appalled at the acquisition of Albert Belle and the loss of Rafael Palmeiro. Nothing positive has been accomplished. As a matter of fact, this team as presently constituted is absolutely stupid.
We now have a third base legend who is over the hill, a journeyman shortstop and no one at first base. True, defensive catching has been greatly improved, but the pitching is atrocious.
The addition of a troublemaker whose numbers are only slightly higher than a real class act, Palmeiro, could really be a disaster on the field and in the stands.
Orioles are selling out
The Orioles have gone down the path that most of America has during the last six years, selling one's soul to the devil for momentary gain. We know President Clinton is bad, but he's been good for our pocketbooks, so we overlook his transgressions. We sign Albert Belle and forget about the baggage he carries with him.
Oh, for the good old days!
My overall assessment of the roster changes is a big F for failure. The addition of Charles Johnson at catcher is a plus, and perhaps the new closer, Mike Timlin, could be considered a move in the right direction, but every other change is a negative.
Peter Angelos is a smart guy and has been good for Baltimore, but his decision to retain pending free agents last season in an unsuccessful try for a playoff spot has really cost the Orioles.
Home run chase here?
It's time for a new Oriole Way: score runs, play hard and play mean. The old way hasn't been working. With Albert Belle, Charles Johnson and Mike Timlin, the Orioles probably have added a three-run differential per game compared to last season.
There's an added dimension to Belle's signing. Imagine a home run chase like the one in St. Louis and Chicago last year right here at Oriole Park. That would invigorate everyone on the team and raise everyone's performance.
Craig Alan Leigh
Front office has no plan
The inability of Peter Angelos and Co. to run a professional organization has again resulted in a chaotic winter that will again result in a disappointing summer.
Just as with Brady Anderson last year, by not negotiating earlier with Rafael Palmeiro, B. J. Surhoff and Alan Mills, they are lost or will get more than they're worth.
To keep the core of your team intact, you have to have a plan and a sense of baseball economics. The Orioles' front office has neither.
The pitching situation has three core starters with less offensive support than last year and a bullpen that will be less effective. Mike Timlin will fall far short in his role as closer. Defensively, catching will be better, but Charles Johnson will not help an already weak offense.
That leaves the manager. The Orioles have Ray Miller -- that about says it all.
All in all, changes positive
When viewed from the broad perspective, the Orioles' recent changes can only be characterized as a resounding positive.
The changes will affect the Orioles this season and well beyond. Albert Belle is not only the best right-handed hitter in the game, but he also brings a burning desire to win that has been absent from the Orioles for some time.
The situation involving Rafael Palmeiro, Charles Johnson, and Armando Benitez is more complex but the loss of several players from a sub-.500 team cannot be viewed as particularly bad.
O's needed an intimidator
People may think that Albert Belle, a player who has been suspended six times, is the last thing the Orioles need. But I think that is exactly what this disappointing club needs. Until now, this team had no one who is intimidating. Everybody is all happy and cheerful, and they really aren't that scary to the opposition.
Belle is the exact opposite. He is a very intimidating player, and a good majority of the pitchers are afraid to face him. Orioles reliever Jesse Orosco made the comment that he's glad he doesn't have to face him anymore.
Sure, Belle has had his troubles, but from what I've heard, that's all in the past. And he is a darn good hitter, which is something this club needs.
Steve Shreck Jr.
Angelos' delays prove costly
Once again Peter Angelos has wasted his money and lost consistent players. He signs over-the-hill Harold Baines, who is a one-dimensional player, and gives up Eric Davis, who will give you 100-plus games defensively.
Angelos could have signed Rafael Palmeiro and B. J. Surhoff a long time ago for a lot less money and probably made a decent offer to Roberto Alomar as well, but again he delayed his decisions and the ante continued to escalate.
The only positive is that Charles Johnson will replace washed-up Chris Hoiles at catcher.
Minor-leaguers are ignored
It seems that the Orioles are shuffling around trying to get all kinds of free agents without looking at the talent they have in the minor leagues.
Over the past decade, they have not really brought up a solid position player from their system. Orioles fans will understand it if the club brings up its talent rather than signs a bunch of free agents.
Spend the free-agents dollars on pitching if you have to, but let's see what Ryan Minor, Calvin Pickering and Willie Greene, among others, can do.
Belle a chance worth taking
The Orioles' off-season has probably been more exciting than the final half of the regular season, to say the least. I will start with the signing of Albert Belle. His background may not be the best in the world, but you cannot doubt his numbers.
To be a champion you have to take some chances, and I think Belle is a great chance.
The acquisition of catcher Charles Johnson is a move that had to be done from a defensive standpoint. Chris Hoiles and Lenny Webster are great guys, but we need to throw out more than 20 percent of base stealers.
Belle brings needed attitude
I agree with Sun columnist John Eisenberg. Albert Belle brings an attitude to the Orioles, which is something they didn't have for most of last season.
Orioles fans saw all the bad last season and not one player, not even the great Cal Ripken, would speak up or say anything to spark the team and make it play as it should. I think Belle will do that.
Yes, Belle brings some baggage, but baggage like that is something the Orioles desperately need.
Lineup overhaul justified
I think a major overhaul of the Orioles' lineup was justified after this year's debacle. The 1998 team had no chemistry and often played without enthusiasm. I had mixed emotions about Albert Belle becoming an Oriole when I first learned of it, but I will withhold final judgment, pending his actions.
Undoubtedly, he will add emotion, passion and fire to a team in desperate need of it. The only free agent, thus far, that I hated to see leave was Eric Davis. Not because of the courage he showed in battling back from cancer, but because of his passion for the game and offensive prowess.
Shake-up was overdue
It's about time. The Orioles finally have a general manager in Frank Wren who knows whom to get and whom to let go -- and he seems to have us on the right track.
Albert Belle (with the right attitude) will carry the Orioles the way Rafael Palmeiro did. We need someone like Belle to shake up the bench. The Orioles of 1998 were too laid-back.
Now we need some middle relief and one top-notch starter. And if Kevin Brown wants to come back to Baltimore, sign him at any price.
O's future is fine
I think the Orioles are on the right track. Maybe not for 1999, but with the promising minor-leaguers on the cusp of making "The Show," we have a good future.
As for their recent moves, he's not Mr. Nicey Nice, but Albert Belle is going to be so incredible over a five-year span that Rafael Palmeiro will be long forgotten. Yeah, Palmeiro put up great numbers, but he's not worth a five-year contract.
We still lack team speed and our bullpen looks pretty sparse, but Belle, Charles Johnson and Mike Timlin are sound investments in comparison with the other free-agent signings around the league.
At least Angelos adjusted
I find it fascinating that the Orioles could have signed Rafael Palmeiro six months ago for about the same money he would eventually be offered, but turned down.
Palmeiro and Albert Belle would have given the Orioles a devastating left/right combination producing 80 to 100 home runs and 250-plus RBIs.
Peter Angelos and his Camden Yards crew certainly misread the marketplace. However, to their credit, they abandoned a doomed plan to stay competitive.
George N. Samryk
Prediction: last place
It's a sad day in my world after learning of the acquisition of Albert Belle and the loss of Rafael Palmeiro. What we've gotten is the worst attitude in baseball, and what we've lost is one of the best first basemen we will ever see.
My prediction for the 1999 Orioles is wire-to-wire in last place. I will always be an Orioles fan but never a Peter Angelos fan.
If Angelos keeps paying the big bucks, how is the average worker going to be able to see a game at Camden Yards? I could never afford to go to a game, but my father gives me tickets every once in a while. This year I may just pass those up. I just don't feel like supporting Angelos anymore.
Glen Rock, Pa.
Belle isn't so wonderful
Listening to the lame defenses of Albert Belle with his "power numbers" and "work ethic" and "new attitude," I feel like George Bailey in the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life," considering Mr. Potter's offer to leave the Building and Loan and come to work for Potter at triple the salary.
And, like George Bailey, I don't need any time to think it over.
Albert Belle is a Class A jerk. Anyone who would sign him doesn't understand baseball and certainly doesn't understand what it means to be an Orioles fan.
Mr. Potter er, Angelos, you can have your $65 million slugger. I don't want any part of it.
Best, brightest? Not here
Pat Gillick, Kevin Malone, Davey Johnson, Rafael Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar, Alan Mills, Eric Davis, Brian Jordan, Todd Stottlemyre, Robin Ventura. Bernie Williams, Randy Johnson. All quality people who have left or turned down offers from the Orioles, and you can surely add Kevin Brown's name to that list soon.
This used to be a club that attracted the best and brightest in baseball. Not anymore. The best it can do is Albert Belle? What a sad commentary on the impact Peter Angelos has had on a once-proud and classy organization.
S. R. Bassett
O's were ones who stalled
I am amazed that the Orioles felt they were blindsided by Rafael Palmeiro's "stalling" in his contract negotiations and then signing with the Rangers.
Let's blame the parties really responsible: owner Peter Angelos and vice president Joe Foss. They knew that Palmeiro's contract would expire at the end of the season and they knew what it would take to re-sign him. They then complicated the situation by signing Albert Belle to a five-year, $65 million contract.
The new Oriole Way: Let's not reward players who have consistently produced for us (and are good guys), but instead bring in a player who has had a tumultuous past and pay him a king's ransom.
Good call, guys!
Oriole Way gives way
What a disaster! Peter Angelos runs out his general manager and assistant GM because they wouldn't put up with his meddling, all the while holding off on signing replacements until too late to get in on the ground floor of free-agent signings.
All the really good free agents are either picked up by better-prepared teams or are adverse to signing with the Orioles because they really know the situation here.
And, to top it off, the Orioles are left with filling offensive holes with the most offensive -- in both senses of the word -- player in the game today.
The Oriole Way? Not anymore. Now, it's rent-a-star, and amazement when no one plays as a team.
It makes me sick.
Dennis D. Ford
AHL: The Moses Malone example
Years ago, fans in Philadelphia were mad at NBA player Moses Malone because he didn't want to do local TV commercials or community service. Sort of like what Albert Belle is going through.
Malone's reply was that the owner paid him $2 million a year to do one thing -- put the ball in the basket. He later led the 76ers to the NBA title, and then everybody loved Malone.
Albert Belle is mean and tough, but he's here for one thing and that is to put up numbers that will lead to a possible World Series.
F. Chip Mitchell and Damian Zellous
A welcome addition
I cannot speak for others, but I'm one happy fan because the Orioles signed Albert Belle and traded for Charles Johnson.
Belle is a dangerous hitter whose line drives scream into doubles and whose home run production is among the best in either league.
Point to ponder: We Americans have learned from recent history that it is not for us to judge others for their mistakes, but to recognize them for a job well done. So I say, "Welcome to Baltimore, Albert!"
O's ownership is lame
Rafael Palmeiro wanted to know some time ago just where he belonged in the Orioles' future. It seems that Peter Angelos' response was, "We'll discuss it when the time is appropriate."
Well, it seems that appropriateness is gone now, leaving Angelos and his merry jesters to place all the blame on Palmeiro.
Face it: The Orioles' lame ownership is to blame.
W. Wayne Jones
Next stop, 'The Block'
What a sad day in Orioles history. We had two outstanding players and fine gentlemen in Eric Davis and Rafael Palmeiro, but we let them go for the sake of a very large buffoon, Albert Belle.
I would not blame Cal Ripken for retiring now and leaving this circus-in-waiting.
Maybe the Orioles will next go to "The Block" looking for additional players.
O's now a better team
To look at the 1999 Orioles and realize that they are not a legitimate playoff team is difficult. However, the past week's changes make the Orioles a better team.
Rafael Palmeiro did the Orioles a big favor by signing with Texas. No one can argue with the consistency and numbers that Palmeiro contributed, but signing him for five years would have denied the Orioles the flexibility and ability to improve with promising prospects such as Calvin Pickering.
As for clubhouse chemistry, I think the Orioles need more players who won't be satisfied with big checks and 79 wins in a season.
Don't get attached to Belle
As an Indians fan, I know that Albert Belle will put up tremendous offensive numbers and won't hurt the Orioles defensively. However, don't get too attached to him.
Belle will not get involved in the community and he won't be signing autographs. The Orioles' front office will have a full-time job trying to keep Belle out of trouble. Just ask Cleveland and Chicago.
Belle signing a slap in face
I was angry when Peter Angelos allowed Jon Miller, the best broadcaster in baseball, to slip away. I was even more upset when Angelos failed to punish Roberto Alomar after he proved to be an embarrassment to the Orioles' uniform. I didn't think it could get any worse. It just did.
When I saw Albert Belle, who has a track record of representing the worse side of professional sports, holding up an Orioles uniform, I got sick.
It is a slap in the face to all who have dignified the orange and black over the past 45 years.
Do I want the Orioles to win? Of course! At any cost? Of course not!
First Malone, now Palmeiro
It looks like the Orioles have lost an assistant GM and a first baseman in about the same fashion, by showing little or no interest. One, Kevin Malone, is now working with the Dodgers. The other, Rafael Palmeiro, signed with the Rangers.
I can attribute the first to Peter Angelos and the second to Angelos and rookie GM Frank Wren. Losing Palmeiro is an embarrassment to all and probably would not have happened had we not let Malone go to Los Angeles.
What do you think, Mr. Angelos? Is it a case of what goes around, comes around? Good luck with Mr. Belle, and drop me from your fan list.
Bully for the bully
Bully to the Orioles for signing Albert Belle, bully being the operative word.
Michael A. Davis
St. Davids, Pa.
Pub Date: 12/06/98