The Baltimore Orioles reopened talks with the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday in an attempt to work out a trade for shortstop Garry Templeton. The Orioles also expect to know by the end of the week if they will be able to swing a trade for California Angels outfielder Dan Ford.
"Scout Jim Russo is meeting with (Cardinal General Manager) Whitey Herzog right now to start talking again," said Oriole General Manager Hank Peters, who had been pleased to hear that the Cardinals' Templeton-for-Ozzie-Smith deal with San Diego had collapsed after Smith's "I don't want to go to St. Louis" press conference Monday.
"We're enthusiastic again," Oriole owner Edward Bennett Williams said of the on-again, off-again talks. "We've been all the way to the one-inch line on this trade before and not scored . . . It looks like Templeton's not going to stay in St. Louis, and we remain very interested."
No Orioles-Cardinals trade, however, could be completed until after Feb. 15 when interleague trading begins.
The Orioles appear close to culminating the Ford for Doug DeCinces trade over which they've dickered for two months.
"We'll know this week on Ford," said Peters, acknowledging that Ford's days in Anaheim may be numbered since the Angels signed outfielder Reggie Jackson.
"We're going to strengthen ourselves (through trades) before the season starts, I promise you that," said Williams, speaking to a meeting of the Washington Home Plate Club at the Touchdown Club.
Williams also divulged why he believes the Orioles failed in their "serious attempt" to sign Jackson. "In the end, it came down to a matter of one year," he claimed. "The Angels offered him a four-year contract and we wouldn't go beyond three years. The salary per season (in the $900,000 neighborhood) was the same."
Why, if Jackson was worth a three-year offer, wasn't the slugger worth a fourth year? "Reggie's old," said Williams. "Hank wanted to offer two years, but I was willing to go for three."
Jackson, who said last week that "the only trouble with Baltimore is that it's in Baltimore," also told Williams that proximity to Los Angeles would help in his "endorsements and interest in a future TV career."
Some Orioles suspect that Jackson merely used the brass' enthusiasm for him to drive up the Angels' bid.
"Reggie knew he was going to California the day he took off the Yankee uniform," said Rich Dauer. "If he wanted to play with a winner, he'd have come to us. Instead, he took the Angels." Dauer said "Angels" as though it were an indictment of Jackson's taste.
"I talked to Reggie in the outfield before the last game of the regular season, and he said, 'Goin' to California,' " said Ken Singleton, who has undergone knee surgery and elbow rehabilitation as well as losing 15 pounds since ending the season in a terrible slump. "I never expected him to end up back in Baltimore, but there would have been room for both of us (splitting time as designated hitter and right fielder) if he had."
In another development, Williams said that, "Even though Earl Weaver still seems to be determined to retire after this season, I'd be willing to do almost anything to keep an asset like him. Maybe after one year of retirement, Earl will be sick of it and want to come back. Maybe we'll work out the first managerial sabbatical and he'll be back in '84."
Although his Orioles were Williams' main concern of the day, the lawyer-owner took time to lambaste his least favorite commissioner.
"I like Bowie Kuhn as a person, but, as I've told him to his face, I was deeply disappointed in his leadership last season," Williams said. "With better leadership, I think a strike could have been averted." Williams was one of the leaders of the nine disgruntled owners who tried to prompt Kuhn into an embarrassed resignation at the December winter meetings.