MLB Franchise Notes: New Orioles Regime Creating Intrigue
The Orioles open Spring Training this week at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, and in Baltimore, Peter Schmuck writes workouts will begin "under a cloud of apprehension." The organization "had to push the reset button" after a '18 season in which the Orioles lost a record 115 games and "watched attendance drop to a four-decade non-strike-year low." The Orioles are "supposed to lose" again this year, which is the "reason why this season needs to be disconnected" from '18 in the minds of the fans. This year's attendance might be "even lower." But the new course that the organization is taking with Exec VP & GM Mike Elias and a "more analytics-based baseball operation should create a different kind of intrigue for dedicated Orioles fans" (BALTIMORE SUN, 2/11).
PREACHING PATIENCE: In Detroit, Anthony Fenech noted the Tigers are beginning their "second season of a full rebuild." They "hint at spending money" in '21 and competing in '22, but these talks are "based on best-case scenarios." If the "recent history of baseball's major rebuilds tells us anything, the Tigers should expect a five-year run of losing baseball." Baseball's other recent rebuilds "only reinforce the time it takes to field a winner." The Tigers are "years away from harvesting that fruit, but the foundation is coming together fine." The team's deep farm system will be "fun to think about," but the "preview of coming attractions this spring won't do anything to speed up the Tigers' rebuild, even if it ramps up anticipation" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/10).
NOT ALL DOOM & GLOOM: The Marlins last year saw attendance drop to a club record-low 811,104 during a 63-98 season and just traded star C J.T. Realmuto to the Phillies, but Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill said he wants fans to "just give us a chance." Hill during the team's FanFest on Saturday said, "So many people have written off the Marlins and really haven't taken an opportunity to take a deep look at what we're building." Marlins players during the FanFest at a "spruced-up" Marlins Park wore "new uniforms with the rebranded team logo" (AP, 2/9).
EMBRACING THE SILENCE? In Pittsburgh, Joe Starkey wrote not long ago, he "believed the Pirates' plummeting attendance must be causing sleepless nights" for team Chair Bob Nutting. Starkey: "I don't believe that anymore. I don't believe it was ever true." Nutting probably "isn't thrilled his team has lost more than a million fans over the past three years." But if fans are "trying to send him a message by refusing to buy tickets, it's not working" because Nutting is "not listening." The Pirates this season will "apparently field a team on a payroll just north" of $70M. Fans have been "crying out in pain and protest," and the Pirates have "responded with a payroll" that will be some $30M lower than just three years ago (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/9).