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It's not Angelos' fault

The Baltimore Sun

Orioles owner Peter Angelos didn't veto a proposed trade that would have sent ace pitcher Erik Bedard to the Seattle Mariners for a package headed by young outfielder Adam Jones, club president Andy MacPhail said yesterday.

Asked whether Angelos were responsible for nixing a deal, MacPhail responded, "No." He wouldn't elaborate or provide details on why the talks appear to have hit a snag - though the deal could still happen.

It's believed that the two sides agreed to the framework of a trade that would have sent Bedard to the Mariners for Jones, left-handed relief pitcher George Sherrill and 19-year-old starting pitcher Chris Tillman, along with at least one other player. Jones told a reporter in Venezuela on Sunday that the deal was complete and he was headed to Baltimore for a physical.

However, Jones' physical, set for Tuesday, was postponed and not rescheduled. MacPhail confirmed yesterday that Jones wasn't in Baltimore this week. The change in events led to an industry-wide perception - and several Internet and newspaper reports - that Angelos is holding up the deal. But the reports have been based more on the Orioles owner's reputation than any evidence.

"This is vintage Angelos," said one baseball executive who requested anonymity. "It is probably the first time that Andy has had to deal with something like this. I don't want to say it is a bad philosophy, but [Angelos] is one of those guys who doesn't like to make a deal unless he absolutely knows it is the right one. That's a fine way to practice in the real world, but that doesn't work in our world. We don't play in the real world."

In December 2006, Angelos quashed a potential deal that would have sent All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts, a longtime favorite of the owner's, and pitching prospect Hayden Penn to the Atlanta Braves for second baseman Marcus Giles and first baseman Adam LaRoche. Executive vice president Mike Flanagan and former vice president Jim Duquette tried to persuade Angelos to make the deal, but the owner refused to sign off, citing Roberts' impact on and off the field.

"I just thought that Brian should stay an Oriole, not that the front office didn't think so, [but] they were looking at it from a standpoint of improving the ballclub," Angelos said in March of the vetoed trade. " ... There's an area where one might say that I have interfered, but I felt impelled to do that from the standpoint of keeping a player that I thought was critical to be part of the Orioles team."

In July 1996, then-Orioles general manager Pat Gillick, his team buried in the American League East behind the New York Yankees at the time, wanted to trade David Wells and Bobby Bonilla for a group of prospects, highlighted by young catcher Chris Widger.

But Angelos didn't want to give up on the season and denied any of Gillick's attempts to make the team younger. It worked out as the Orioles made a huge second-half run and reached the postseason, but the decision led to a rift between Gillick and Angelos.

MacPhail said he wouldn't have taken the Orioles' job without assurances from Angelos that he had full autonomy. He said earlier this week that he and Angelos are still on the same page.

Meanwhile, MacPhail said he continues to engage in trade talks with various clubs, though no deals are expected to be announced today.

MacPhail also has been speaking with representatives for a number of free agents, knowing that if the trades don't go through, he'll have limited time to plug the holes in the lineup and pitching staff before spring training.

"It's pretty much ongoing," MacPhail said of his discussions with team executives and player agents. "You're basically running on a parallel course and you're in contact with both simultaneously. I think they understand. They read the papers. They have a pretty good sense of what's going on."

After indicating earlier in the winter that he would likely break off trade talks by the last week in January, MacPhail has created a more flexible deadline in securing an everyday center fielder, late-inning relief help and possibly a middle infielder and starting pitcher.

"There's really been no change in our circumstance," he said, "and we'll always keep an open mind regardless of what time of year it is."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.

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