Orioles nullify their deal with Grant Balfour

The Grant Balfour-Orioles Dispute: Who's To Blame?

12/23/13 in MLB   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

Oct 7, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Grant Balfour (50) pitches in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers in game three of the American League divisional series playoff baseball game at Comerica Park. Oakland won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsGrant Balfour’s contract with the Orioles for two-years and $15 million was nullified when the Orioles weren't satisfied with the results of Balfour's exam. Since this revelation, the allegations have flown back and forth with much of the blame falling on the Orioles and their supposed cluelessness. This assertion would have stronger legs if it were the Orioles of 2011 and the previous decade-plus when they didn’t have one winning season and were a case study of dysfunction, wasted money and ineptitude.
 
It’s not like that anymore. They’ve had two winning seasons in a row, made the playoffs in 2012, and are much better organized than they were. Owner Peter Angelos is still savaged in the media for a multitude of reasons, but their minor league system is relatively well-stocked; they have competent front office management with Dan Duquette; and a superior field manager in Buck Showalter. That they’ve been torched for a lack of moves this winter lends credence to the idea that they must really have seen something they didn’t like on Balfour’s medicals because: A) the fans wanted them to make a move – any move; and B) comparatively, it wasn’t a huge sum of money they were spending to sign Balfour. They could’ve avoided all of this and run the risk of Balfour getting hurt by shrugging and signing off on the contract anyway no matter what the medical reports showed.
 
August 25, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Sugar Land Skeeters pitcher Roger Clemens (21) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Bridgeport Bluefish at Constellation Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Balfour was rightfully angry that he’s now perceived as damaged goods. There’s an attempt to call the Orioles at best inept and at worst nefarious. In truth, they’re neither. Duquette, it must be remembered, is the same man who as Red Sox GM told the public that Roger Clemens was in the twilight of his career when he was allowed to leave to sign with the Blue Jays after the 1996 season. At the time, Clemens got the last laugh when he won back-to-back Cy Young Awards with the Blue Jays, punctuating his “determination to prove Duquette wrong” in his return to Boston as a visitor by striking out 16 and walking none in a superlative eight inning effort and glaring into the GM’s box when he walked off the mound. He subsequently went on to win another two Cy Young Awards with the Yankees and Astros as he extended his career by another decade. It was considered a stunted twilight and Duquette was a pariah…until the PED revelations cropped up to explain how it was that the pretty good pitcher Clemens was in 1996 rejuvenated himself into a better pitcher at 42 than he was at 32. In fact, he was about as good as he was when he was 22!
 
Duquette, a good baseball man who’d built the oft-reminisced-about Expos of 1994 and had a large hand in putting together the 2004 and 2007 World Series champion Red Sox, was out of baseball working on the Israeli Baseball League and other activities until he got another shot with the Orioles. Duquette’s stint in cold storage was in part due to his wooden personality, but it can’t be denied that he’s a smart and qualified baseball man who knows how to run an organization and is willing to take the hits when necessary as he did with Clemens. 
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