Offseason headlines 12/6

The Sun has a rather_feel_good_piece about some of the plans coming up.

O’s finally realize Japanese players might be a more viable option

During next week’s winter meetings in Las Vegas, the Orioles expect to have face-to-face discussions with the agents for two Japanese starting pitchers.

John Stockstill, the Orioles’ international scouting director, said he has set up tentative meetings with Dan Evans, the agent for Kenshin Kawakami, and Mark Pieper, who represents Koji Uehara.

All right, it only took the Orioles about a decade to think to pursue Japanese players. Neither of these are going set the world on fire, they’re both 33. Uehara projects more as a reliever…though he could start…but most teams think of him as reliever. These two are more in the neighborhood of Hiroki Kuroda rather than Matsuzaka or a young Hideo Nomo. That’s perfectly fine, Kuroda was solidly average last season. Trying the Asian market for starters beats signing Steve Trachsel again.

Kevin Millar knows his place

“Right now, I’m at a point in my career where I understand that nobody is coming to me and saying, ‘Hey, you’re going to get 600 at-bats and be my No.4 hitter,” said Millar. “I love to play every day, but I would never not come back to the Orioles because I wasn’t a starter. It would never be a factor where I said that I’m too good for a bench role.”

Millar’s been lucky that the O’s haven’t been able to find a viable first baseman because he’s gotten an extra couple seasons as a starter out of it. I like Kevin Millar. My hope is that the O’s get a solution at first but I’d have no qualms about Millar being on the bench. The bench has been awful the past few years and he’d be an upgrade.

 That said, I don’t like this…

If the Orioles can’t bring Teixeira home — and they are considered a long shot to landing him — and don’t feel comfortable with Aubrey Huff at first base, Millar is one of their fallback options.

Don’t feel comfortable at first with Huff? They’d rather have Millar start than Huff. I don’t see the team signing Teixeira. After Tex, the free agent market for 1st basemen is somewhat_lean

Rich Aurilia (37)
Miguel Cairo (35)
Sean Casey (34)
Tony Clark (37)
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Jason Giambi (38)
Eric Hinske (31)
Doug Mientkiewicz (35)
Kevin Millar (37)
Richie Sexson (34)
Mark Sweeney (39)
Mark Teixeira (29)
Daryle Ward (34)

Any of those outside of Tex excite you? Eric Hinske hit 20_homers_last_season. Nomar Garciaparra, contrary to popular belief, still_plays_professional_baseball. Jason Giambi…nnnoooo….I’m sure his_stellar_rebound_last_season_ that the Giants will give him a longterm deal. Gary Thorne says “Richie Sexton” that would be amusing for a bit. There’s not much out there. So if Teixeria doesn’t sign, the O’s have to find another 1st baseman on the trade market. Having Millar as a starter at 1st again would be another season of the team spinning their wheels.

Chris Ray is doing swell, but…

Chris Ray says his right elbow is doing good after having ligament transplant surgery on it and missing the entire season this year. That said, he’ll won’t be given back his closer role automattically.

Trembley said he won’t decide on a closer until spring training, though returning All-Star George Sherrill appears to be the frontrunner for that role.

We’ll see. I’m betting a healthy Ray gets his closer spot back and Sherrill moves back to his specialist role. But saying that now would undermine any trade value Sherrill has. Besides, there’s no guarantee that Ray is 100% yet.

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