Originally written December 21, 2011 on Dempsey's Army:
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The Orioles made it official and announced the signing of veteran outfielder Endy Chavez. The deal is reported to be worth $1.5M with another $500K in incentives.

My enduring memory of Chavez was from a game I saw him play against the Astros in Montreal in 2003. He was manning center field for the Expos and made a couple of really nice plays defensively and stroked an RBI double to tie the game. (The Expos won in the bottom of the 10th as Jose Macias, of all people, hit a walk off homer.)

He's not the fielder he was 9 years ago but he might just be the best defensive outfielder for the Orioles in 2012. His 6.6 UZR/150 score for the Rangers would have led all Oriole outfielders in 2011. His bat is not horrible and he is a decent, if not great, baserunner. As far as 4th outfielder candidates go, Matt Angle and Kyle Hudson are the only players on the roster who could fill that role and I don't think either is ready for that job in 2012 (if ever). Chavez fills a need and he is likely to be worth every penny of the contract the O's pay him.

The signing of Chavez has led to much grumbling from fans who were awaiting a more siginificant signing from the team this offseason. But upon his introduction to the press, Dan Duquette all but said that the O's would NOT be big players in free agency this offseason:

A lot of teams spent a lot of money on those major league acquisitions and didn't get the kind of production they are looking for. Here in Baltimore we have to work smarter to invest our money, so that we getter better bang for our buck. We have to work smarter.

And the thing is, he's right. Say what you will about the acquisitions made this offseason are not exciting but at least they do fill needs. There was nobody to be the backup catcher, they found a good one in Taylor Teagarden. The desperately needed a 4th outfielder, they sign Chavez. The pitching staff, especially the rotation, needs a lot of help. I do not like the Dana Eveland signing but that is an area where the O's need bodies. The low cost gamble on Tsuyoshi Wada is very likely to help the rotation.

More importantly, they haven't taken on much in payroll and they haven't given up anyone from the farm system who is likely to help the MLB club at any time in the future. Nor have they acquired any player who is likely to block any young players/prospects this season. Nor have they given out multi-million, multi-year deals to middling relievers.

No, there have been no trades of the like that brought J.J. Hardy or Mark Reynolds to town. But there have been no silly Vladimir Guerrero or Kevin Gregg signings either. The Orioles are just not going to make a big splash in free agency this offseason. And it won't help them anyway.

Lest we forget, signing Albert Belle or Miguel Tejada didn't exactly make the Orioles perennial winners. One big free agent or two or three won't assure a winning season. Especially with the team Baltimore has right now.

Andy MacPhail brought this farm system out of the abyss but the system still has a long way to go. O's fans don't want to hear about patience after 14 seasons of losing but that's what you're going to need.

If that doesn't work for you, go down I-95 and watch Jayson Werth.
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