Beat the Yankees? Sure, why not. And the Tampa Rays? Yep. Them to. The Baltimore Orioles aren't backing down, and could still win the division. And it's September, not April. We should all take notes. By we, I mean other teams whose executive management teams continues to mismanage their farm system and letting young prospects flee the burning barn.
Just a glance over the current roster shows the Orioles are relatively young. They only have one infielder, including catchers, over 30 years old. Shortstop J.J. Hardy is the old man here, and he just turned 30 in August. Jim Thome is on the 15-Day DL retroactive to July 28, but has only appeared in 18 games. Cooperstown is his next stop.
There are only four pitchers over 30: Randy Wolf (36), Kevin Gregg (34), Luis Ayala (34), and Joe Saunders (31).
None of their regular outfielders are over 30.
This is how you do it, just like the Rays started their run a few years back.Youth. Don't expect to be good immediately. Let the kids play together, let them grow as a team. Make smart trades. And most importantly, don't sign free agent superstars to massive contracts at the ends of their careers. *Cough* Mets *Cough*
The Orioles have half the team salary of the Yankees, Red Sox, and other big spenders and are right with them in the standings, if not in front of them like the Red Sox. Graph from USA Today
The O's are 19th in total payroll. By the way, the first place Nationals are right behind them, and that even includes that ridiculous contract to Jason Werth.
With thrifty Oakland also being in serious contention for a wild-card spot, there is absolutely no reason why other small to medium market teams don't make more noise. Kansas City, I'm looking at you.
The Orioles have climbed out of the dungeon after many years of seriously bad contracts, ala Albert Bell, and rebuilt from the ground up. There is one man, that deserves much of the credit, and he's not even in the position any longer. Andy MacPhail, the GM through last season, did a superb job of building a young core of talent. Now it's up Dan Duquette. Yes, the same one that oversaw the wonderful Expos farm system in the 90s, and the person of discontent among Red Sox fans for failing to re-sign Roger Clemens. Duquette was hired last November after MacPhail resigned and now has the task of continuing the youth movement in Baltimore.
If the Orioles can contend against teams without budgets, surely other teams can do this.