Saturday, October 31, 2009

The End of an Era in Baltimore

It wasn't hard to see this day coming as the Baltimore Orioles have declined to pick up Melvin Mora's contract making him a free agent. It seems all but clear that Mora's tenth season with the Orioles was his last. Mora, from Venezuela, will turn 38 in 2010 and will hope to catch on with a contending team, something that has eluded him as a player. He made his displeasure public in 2009 when he got off to a bad start, was injured and was not given his starting job back after his return.

Mora had some good years in Baltimore. He was better suited for the outfield where he put up some stellar defensive numbers. While he had a great arm at third, his RTOT consistently came up in the negative column as an infielder. Just two years ago in 2008, Mora drove in 104 runs while compiling a 114 OPS+. That was worth the nearly $8 million the Orioles were paying him. But this year's decline to a 77 OPS+ made the $8 million option untenable to pick up.

Depending on his attitude at taking a lesser role at this point in his career, Mora could be a useful backup for somebody. He can play multiple positions and has had some good years at the plate. He certainly has more skills than someone like Miguel Cairo. The question is if he can accept that kind of role after playing nearly every game for the Orioles for eight years.

It would be easy to see a team like the Angels, Rangers or Tigers picking him up as he hit those teams really well in his career. To be sure, the Red Sox will miss him as they play the Orioles in 2010. He only had a .689 OPS against them over the years.

Mora's best years were 2003 and 2004 when he put together back to back years with an OPS+ of 143 and 155, especially 2004 when he had a career year and set personal bests in all offensive categories including a .340 batting average.

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