Mariners | Orioles owner has nixed deals before
High-powered attorney Peter Angelos was hailed as a hero when he purchased the Baltimore Orioles in 1993 from the bankruptcy-laden Eli Jacobs...
Seattle Times staff reporter
High-powered attorney Peter Angelos was hailed as a hero when he purchased the Baltimore Orioles in 1993 from the bankruptcy-laden Eli Jacobs, heading a group that spent $173 million to restore local ownership.
Now, to some Baltimore fans, Angelos is a pariah. Under his hands-on ownership — heavy handed, many would say — the Orioles have had a revolving door of managers and general managers. Their front-office operation has been viewed as largely dysfunctional, and they haven't posted a winning season in 10 years.
Angelos, 78 and still feisty enough to put in six-day work weeks at the Baltimore law firm that made him a multimillionaire defending asbestos victims, apparently looms at the crux of the stalled trade talks between the Mariners and Orioles.
With Adam Jones heading home from Venezuela to Phoenix on Tuesday, discussions continued between the two teams. The proposed deal would bring left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard to Seattle for outfielder Jones, reliever George Sherrill and an undetermined number of Seattle minor-leaguers.
However, there was new word Tuesday that the Mariners might not be the only team in the hunt for Bedard.
"We continue to talk [with Seattle]," Andy MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations, told the Baltimore Sun. "We've had some other clubs chime in as well."
The New York Mets, once believed to have interest in Bedard, are no longer a factor, provided they consummate their Johan Santana trade. And the Cincinnati Reds were involved in Bedard talks but have been unwilling to include prized outfield prospect Jay Bruce, a likely deal-breaker. The Angels and Cleveland Indians are teams that could possibly get involved.
Assessing trade talks with the Mariners, MacPhail told the Sun, "We're at the same place. We're still talking. It's just conversation."
In an e-mail to The Seattle Times, Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi upheld his long-held policy not to discuss ongoing trade talks.
"All I can confirm is that we took Adam off the field in Venezuela and brought him home," said Bavasi. "That's it."
The Sun, citing a source, said in its Wednesday edition that the Orioles were annoyed that the trade discussions became public before a deal was complete.
Many in baseball firmly believe the whole baffling episode has the fingerprints of Angelos, who on Tuesday remained occupied by a personal matter in Baltimore.
Angelos has been known to veto deals because of health concerns. One happened before the 2000 season, when the Orioles agreed to a tentative four-year, $29 million contract with pitcher Aaron Sele, a free agent, only to nix the deal when their doctors expressed concern over Sele's shoulder after his physical.
The M's signed him to a two-year, $15 million deal, and were rewarded with a 32-15 record by Sele over those two seasons.
Angelos, with his lawyer's background, is known to be a stickler about vetting prospective Orioles players on health issues. It could date to 1999, when pitcher Xavier Hernandez signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract, then was discovered to have a partially torn rotator cuff. Angelos voided the contract, but Hernandez filed a grievance and received a $1.75 million settlement.
"When it comes to medical matters and physicals, he's on top of it," said one former Orioles executive. "He's tied in with top doctors. That's what complicates dealing with him more than anything."
But it's not just health issues that have caused Angelos to nix trades at the 11th hour.
"He tends to rely on a lot of people that don't have expertise," said one person with knowledge of the Orioles' operation. "He's not a real trusting person. He always thinks there's something wrong with the player coming his way, and he's going to get screwed."
Said another baseball official with Baltimore ties: "Peter gets involved with popularity. Sometimes, he doesn't want a deal done because the fans don't like it, when in fact it may be a very good deal. But the thing is, he does his homework."
Many in baseball see the outcome of this deal as a litmus test for MacPhail's authority. He was reportedly promised autonomy when he took over baseball operations last June.
"My gut feeling is that this will get done, but the wild card is Peter, and you never know with him," said one baseball executive on Tuesday.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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