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Orioles fans satisfied with course of offseason even with Chris Davis unsigned

Though the Orioles still are at least one experienced starting pitcher short of getting back to even this offseason, the fans who crowded into the Baltimore Convention Center for FanFest on Saturday seemed positively inclined toward the front office's early effort.

The Orioles have traded for a possible replacement for Chris Davis, retained Matt Wieters and are a few details away from re-signing Darren O'Day. And it was hard to find any fans who were dissatisfied with the level of proactivity from baseball operations chief Dan Duquette and his staff.

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"I'm very happy with the offseason so far — the attempt to sign Chris Davis, the Trumbo trade, bringing O'Day back," said Randy Street of Severna Park. "I'm looking forward to it. I think they're going to do well. I think they're going to go out and get some outfielders."

Maybe the Orioles have just figured out how to better play a situation like the Davis negotiations. But Street and several other fans seemed content enough with the effort and the $150 million offer the club has made to accept whatever the outcome.

"I'm OK with that," Street said. "They made an honest attempt. I'm not upset with that at all. I think they are definitely trying to build this team."

Duquette said on Saturday that the seven-year offer the team made to Davis is now off the table, but it's apparently not over until it's over. Agent Scott Boras chimed in at about the same time, telling The Baltimore Sun in a telephone interview that he is still having discussions with the club.

Meanwhile, the big FanFest crowd attended question-and-answer sessions with Orioles executives, coaches and players at an unusually early edition of the Orioles' winter carnival, which usually takes place on the last weekend of January.

Maybe that's a good thing and maybe they won't be as upbeat seven weeks from now. But the Orioles have been fairly active during the past few weeks and Duquette has made good on his promise to be more aggressive in November and December than he typically has been in the past.

It hasn't been all good, but it has been eventful.

"The offseason has had some ups and downs," said Ken Katz of Columbia. "Wieters coming back is excellent and O'Day coming back. Unfortunately, it sounds like Davis is going to go elsewhere and they signed Trumbo as a possible replacement for Davis. We obviously need more guys with better batting average and speed at the top of the lineup."

Duquette got a nice ovation from the season-ticket holders when he took the stage early Saturday and manager Buck Showalter got a huge response. Even though the Orioles finished at .500 and failed to post a winning season for the first time in four years, it was clear that the fans have regained a measure of trust in the front office this winter.

"Buck, sometimes you question what he's doing as a fan," said Trish Cavey of Baltimore, "but then again, he knows what he's doing and he has proven himself over and over again that he knows better, and Dan Duquette also."

"I'm looking forward to a good season," said Matt Martindale of Hereford, Pa. "I'm still hoping that the Chris Davis thing works out. If it doesn't, we've got some good pieces with the recent Mark Trumbo deal and getting Matt back for a full season. Those are the players I'm looking to see something from, and [Kevin Gausman], I'd like to see a breakthrough from."

Never mind that he was off somewhere pondering his future home. Davis never seemed too far out of mind on the floor of the Convention Center, which probably shouldn't have been a surprise considering his dynamic performance in two of the past three seasons. But many fans answered predictably when asked if they thought the Orioles would ever make a $150 million offer to a free agent.

"No, but that seems to be the trend for the big-money guys — the power types," Martindale said. "I knew when he had the season and the contract was coming, we'd have to offer him something to stay. It's the market. I think relative to the baseball market, yeah [he's worth it]. The reason why I think that, he can play three positions and produce runs. He's a really good skills player."

Meghna Sreenivas of Fulton is getting ready to enter the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania to study business, but she had to set conservative philosophy aside when asked whether the Orioles should do whatever they must to sign Davis.

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"Well, for anyone else, I'd say you probably shouldn't," said Sreenivas, who attended FanFest with her younger brother Mehul and her father. "But for Chris Davis, you've got to give him everything. That guy's awesome. For Chris Davis, you've got to do it. He's worth it. He's a franchise player."

Dan Smith of Baltimore still had to wonder when enough becomes enough.

"I don't understand how Davis can turn down $150 million," he said. "I know he's got the right to do it, but seven years and $150 million? How much more do you need?"

Considering that outfielder Jason Heyward, a player whose run-production statistics pale to Davis', just signed an eight-year, $184 million deal with the Chicago Cubs, that's a tough question to answer.

"That doesn't help," Smith said. "I don't think [Heyward] should be getting that much money. When I heard that, I almost fell off my chair, but then I thought the only other club that might be in the running for Davis is St. Louis. I don't think [the Orioles] should up their offer. If they don't sign him, they should get a couple of pitchers. With that money, you can sign two or three more players, so I think that's what they should do."

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Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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