DALLAS, DEC. 10 -- Unable to trade for much pitching or the outfield speed they desperately need, the Baltimore Orioles tonight attempted to put the best face on a disappointing week at the winter meetings.
"This is part of it," Orioles General Manager Roland Hemond said. "You don't get discouraged. We did make some progress, and we're going to stay with it. I hope to do more, but right now, it's not encouraging."
Hemond talked and talked about the ways the Orioles had improved themselves: They picked up a reliable, if unspectacular, reliever (Doug Sisk) from the New York Mets. They traded pitcher Ken Dixon to Seattle for Mike Morgan, who has lost 17 games each of the last two seasons but has also pitched better than 200 innings both years (only one Orioles pitcher had more than 165). They took young Jose Bautista in the major league draft.
But as they repacked their notebooks and reports tonight, they appeared not to have significantly improved a team that has gone 81-137 (.372) since Aug. 6, 1986. Their problem was what a lot of people might have believed, that the players they were offering -- the names of Mike Young and Mike Boddicker came up in most trades -- didn't send many teams into a tizzy.
Late today, they appeared to be finished with the Oakland Athletics, who refused to part with young outfielder Stan Javier in a trade that would have involved Boddicker; with the New York Yankees, who wouldn't give up outfielder Roberto Kelly in a Fred Lynn deal; and with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies in trades that included different players at various times.
Not everyone liked their trades. To get Sisk, they gave the Mets two young pitching prospects, and to get outfielder Joe Orsulak from Pittsburgh, they gave up two young infield prospects.
"That's how they're going to build through the farm system?" an American League general managed asked. "That's a strange way to start."
But in the end, the Orioles weren't alone. Late tonight, there had been only eight trades made, and those involved 17 major league players -- the fewest total in at least 15 years.
One trade was made today by the Chicago White Sox, who shopped left-hander Floyd Bannister all week and shipped him and infielder Dave Cochrane to Kansas City for right-hander John Davis and three other young pitchers. The Indians, Athletics, Brewers and Yankees had made offers for Bannister.
Some other trades continued to live. The Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers were still discussing a deal that would involve Dodgers right-hander Bob Welch.
Further, the Athletics and Yankees were believed to have made lucrative two-year offers to free-agent pitcher Mike Witt, and both offers included options for a third year. Witt was believed to be leaning toward signing with Oakland.
Free-agent reliever Dave Righetti has considered several offers, with the Yankees and San Francisco Giants believed to have the inside track.