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Hargrove warms Hot Stove meeting

January 11, 2001

Hargrove warms Hot Stove meeting



By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer


FREDERICK, Md. - There is only one constant when it comes to the Baltimore Orioles baseball organization.

Change ... and a lot of it.

That feeling of switches and readjustments are plenty for the Frederick Keys, but the Single-A Carolina League affiliate is merely following the lead of their parent club.

In fact, the Orioles aren't changing. This is an out-and-out overhaul after a disappointing 74-88 season in 2000 with a team laden with high-priced veterans.

"There is two things different about this year than last year as I stand here," said Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove while speaking at the Seventh Annual Frederick Keys Hot Stove Banquet before 300 fans at the Francis Scott Key Holiday Inn. "Last year, there was three inches of snow on the ground and the average age of our club was 85."

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The Orioles realized they have nothing to lose by gutting the team. After all, they did most of their losing long before the trading deadline, when general manager Syd Thrift started dealing players to set the stage for this year's youth movement.

"We've brought in a lot of younger players," Hargrove said. "We went for having the older players that would sit back and wait for the big bomb to a team with good speed and baserunning. Those that came and saw us after the trades know that we didn't always play well, but we were exciting."

The Keys are in the midst of exciting times with equally as many changes.

The team has hit the ground running after its sale Comcast-Spectacor, the Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment company which owns the NHL's Flyers and NBA's Sixers.

The sale has generated a concerted marketing effort and a move to get between $6-7 million for the Maryland's state assembly to renovate Harry Grove Stadium.

Baltimore's big loss came when pitcher Mike Mussina signed with the New York Yankees. Also gone are the of likes B.J. Surhoff, Pat Rapp, Will Clark and Charles Johnson. Coming in is the youth of Chris Richard, Jerry Hairston Jr., Melvin Mora and Luis Matos.

"All of this makes us a better team," Hargrove said. "With the better players coming in, it will make us a lot better, a lot sooner. The Yankees will be the team to beat this year. In time, we can work ourselves into that position."

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