Lots and lots of trade talk

Erik Bedard could be heading to the Dodgers. If there’s a team I’d like him to be traded to, the Dodgers are at the top of the list. They have a multitude of prospects and getting Matt Kemp would be a good starting piece for the outfield. Imagine an outfield of Markakis, Kemp, and hopefully Nolan Reimhold. That’s a young outfield that a team could have for years and years to come.

I’d love to keep Bedard, but I doubt it happens. If he turns down the extension, then do the next best thing (or possibly the best thing) and trade him for three great prospects and fill some holes and build the team up.

Miggi could be heading to the Angels, with more from the Sun.

Who would replace our boy Miggi?

If the Orioles trade Tejada and aren’t convinced Luis Hernandez is ready to take over as the starting shortstop, one potential replacement is Cesar Izturis, whose option was not picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Orioles have discussed acquiring the slick-fielding Izturis in the past.

I want no part of Cesar Izturis. Not as a 1 year stop gap even. He can’t hit and I’d rather concede the losses for the next year or two and go with Luis Hernandez. He’s not the answer probably, but can he be worse than Izturis?

Want proof? He’s Izturis’ baseball reference page.

Yes, I know not all shortstops hit like Miggi. In fact, very few do. BUT very few don’t hit like Izturis.

Mora and Ramon might be on their ways out too. Obviously, neither will be long-term pieces of this team’s future, so trading them would be the smart move. Let’s see what Scott Moore and JR House are made of and give them their shot. Shoot, let’s give Scott Moore and Paul Bako their shot.

The Rangers are sweet on Kevin Millar. I like Millar, but just like with the rest of the vets, they’re not going to be part of the answer.

Whew. Lots of talk…lots of it. Let’s hope that for a change, we see some trades happen. That’s gonna be it for me here til Friday since I’ll catching with friends in town and a little eatting as well. If a trade does go down, I might find a few minutes to pry myself from my gravy IV and do a post. Have a good Thanksgiving everybody.

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Free Agency Begins

With free agents now being able to sign, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the polar opposite of what I’ve hoped for in years past. Last season, I was beating the drum for the O’s to sign Carlos Lee. Supposedly, the sides talked alot but in the end we were merely a bargaining chips for Lee to get more money from the team he wanted to go all along, the Astros.

I don’t want the O’s to sign any top name free agents. The crop this year is lean anyway, but would any one player turn this team around? The team was 69-93 this season. Would signing one of A-Rod, Andruw Jones, or Tori Hunter make this a winning team? This is a team with plenty of holes that one or two signings won’t fix. Besides, the last thing this team needs is more players over the age of 30. I’m hoping the MacPhail regime strikes with trading aging vets for youth. I’d rather have a few more years of losing with a young team with the prospect that in two or three years that this team could be good rather than merely signing more peak or past their prime vets that would at best be a medicore team. A-Rod is a great player and I’d love to have someone like him playing for us, but this team needs multiple A-Rods, not just one, to have a chance at winning. Signing him would merely be a mighty expensive PR move that mortgages the future spending of the team.  If the O’s were a team, like say Cleveland, that was maybe a player short, then I say go for it. We’re more than A player short.

From the O’s site

One place of interest this winter will be center field, where Patterson departs after two seasons as the starter. Former All-Stars Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones headline the list of free agents, and Aaron Rowand should also get a lucrative contract. Meanwhile, the Orioles will likely seek to fill center field through a trade for a younger player.

Great news! Makes sense and the opposite what the team usually does.

Baltimore will be active again in the hunt for relief pitchers, but there should be a much different strategy employed this year. The Orioles spent more than $40 million on three relievers last winter but still wound up with the highest relief ERA in franchise history. Now, the plan is to bring in several low-cost arms and assemble a bullpen from spare parts.

Terrific! Why waste money on a bullpen when relievers are the signings that usually pan out the least? Last season, Walker was a great signing. Bradford was ok, but shaky at times. Baez was a bust. Williamson…didn’t pan out…didn’t get healthy…or didn’t get a chance. Take your pick. On the same topic, Tom Verducci has a great article about the building of a bullpen the right way.

The Orioles are a team that has invested heavily in free agency in recent years, with lucrative contracts doled out to Miguel Tejada, Ramon Hernandez, Javy Lopez, Aubrey Huff and others in an effort to break out of fourth place. This year is likely to be about restraint and building patiently through younger players and the farm system, a plan that rarely inspires sexy headlines.

To need Band-Aids is temporary — I’m not looking to do that,” said Trembley of an attempt to stock the roster with veteran stopgaps. “I think probably that’s one of the things that’s been done around here, and that doesn’t get it done. We’re looking to add quality, not quantity, and it’s going to have to start with [starting] pitching and the bullpen.”

Trembley sure knows how to say the right things doesn’t he? I hope this is the plan and they stick to it. Of course, we are going to have to find a closer, but we’ll see how that turns out. I’m optimistic about this offseason. I’m optimistic that it won’t be one of the usual teases we usually have. Talk of the team being in talks with a big name only to come up short and sign an Aubrey Huff type.

Mora may waive No Trade Clause

link

In the past, Melvin Mora was one of my favorite Orioles. He’s been an average 3rd baseman and had alittle pop in his bat. The past few seasons though, he’s worn out his welcome with me. There was the contract thing last season. I said here that they should pay him. I was wrong. In between the whining about the contract, the whining about sitting out a game or two during the season, the boneheaded freelance ingame decisions he makes, the baserunning mishaps, and the supposed tension he causes in the clubhouse; I’m ready to pay for his ticket out of town.

A few highlights from this highly laughable article

If he does return, Mora made it known that things need to change. The veteran said the Orioles’ clubhouse was divided last season.

The problem is you have people that have been in the big leagues for five, six years, and they think they own the Orioles,” he said. “They need to fix that problem. I treat everybody the same, and it’s something that I can fix if they let me fix it.”

I’m guessing this is a shot at Jay Payton. Hey Melvin, I don’t like Payton either. The problem is that I like you less.

Mora maintained that he was “cool” with Dave Trembley but said he felt disrespected when the manager sat him several times in September to get a look at recently acquired Scott Moore at third base.

I don’t want to make it seem it was Moore’s fault. This kid was hungry to play,” Mora said. “But I’ve been busting my butt for seven years in the organization. I’m a two-time All-Star, I’ve won a Silver Slugger [award]. I don’t deserve that. If I have to take that crap, I’d rather go somewhere else.”

Lot of I’s there. I like how he said that there’s people who’ve been in the big leagues 5 or 6 years and think they own the team. The next paragraph, he’s made about sitting a few games so the team could gauge a new player and he says ‘I’ve been with the O’s 7 years.’ He says he wants to see new players come in and help the team win. Scott Moore won’t be difference, but he needs to get a start or two somewhere. Just not at Melvin’s expense, I suppose.

He was also disappointed in the manager’s public criticism of enigmatic starter Daniel Cabrera. Trembley called Cabrera “unprofessional” after the pitcher threw behind the head of Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, nearly inciting a brawl.

“What Cabrera did was wrong, and I told him that. I told him, ‘You could have killed that guy.’ But what [Trembley] said to the media wasn’t right either,” Mora said. “This is the one guy that I want to have on my team. We have five starting pitchers, and Daniel is the only guy to stay healthy and throw 200 innings. But nobody says anything about that.”

Maybe that’s because Cabrera threw a really crappy 200 innings. No one wants to say anything about that. Maybe Trembley shouldn’t have said that to the press, but this franchise has babied their players too long. Cabrera needs a kick in the pants.  I would have love to have Melvin play for Earl Weaver. Mora’s the one who went to the press and cried about not being in the lineup and not being informed a day in advance when Perlozzo managed the team. That’s unprofessional. That’s disappointing.

Mora made it known that he would be against a move to left field unless he felt it made the team significantly better. If Tejada isn’t traded, the Orioles would consider moving him to third base and Mora to left field.

I don’t want to play those games,” he said. “I’m one of the best third basemen in the American League and in baseball. If you are going to move me, you have to make the team more competitive.”

I wouldn’t classify Melvin Mora as one the best third basemen in the baseball. He’s an average one. You could do worse, but you could do a lot better.

I’m through with it. Melvin, It’s a been a good ride at times. But here lately, I can’t stand to read your quotes. I’m tired of your bellyaching and me first attitude. I hope you get dealt and I won’t have to read this rubbish anymore.

By the way, Melvin used “I” 35 times in that article. I didn’t count the “me’s.”

A few things from Roch

Caught on reading Roch’s always awesome blog and saw a few things I figured I’d comment on.

When you read that new Orioles bench coach Dave Jauss was the Red Sox’s first base coach, minor league field coordinator, bench coach, director of player development and an advance scout, is your first reaction, “Wow, what a versatile guy!” Or, “This guy can’t hold a job!”

I’m going with the versatility angle.

The Red Sox obviously thought enough of Jauss to keep him in the organization until he joined Grady Little in Los Angeles. He’s also managed in the minors, so he has a wealth of knowledge that the Orioles can tap into at any given moment.

Glad the coaching staff hiring is complete. I’ve never heard of Dave Jauss and I like that. I don’t want an ex-manager (Don Baylor, Larry Bowa, Jerry Manuel etc) to come and be a bench coach because that creates the illusion that Trembley is a bad half season away from getting the axe and they’ve got their man sitting right beside him.

Though Orioles officials will be busy this week, it would be a major surprise if they pulled off a trade. It’s just not expected to happen this soon. But stay tuned. Maybe someone will overwhelm them.

I should run a poll asking what you think will happen to Jay Gibbons, since so many people are asking me – and I honestly don’t know. I’m sure the Orioles don’t want to eat his contract, but that would be choice No. 1. They could attempt to trade him for an equally bad contract (No. 2), or keep him and hope that he stays healthy and has a productive season as a left-handed DH and pinch-hitter.

Since MacPhail isn’t responsible for the contract, he’s more likely to release Gibbons than the individuals who negotiated the extension. But I’m sure the Orioles will look to trade him first. I just can’t imagine that there’s a long line of takers.

That extension looks dumber by the second. In my opinion, Gibbons won’t an O next season. I hope so anyway. He’s the least dependable player on a team filled with undependables. The trade market for Gibbons is laughable. Who wants an injury prone plagued outfielder who can’t play the outfield, bats for .180, has a horrible horrible contract and is suspected of steriod use?

Nobody should be surprised if Miguel Tejada is being fitted for a new uniform by the time the three executives return to Baltimore, though next month’s winter meetings will provide another opportunity to move the shortstop if a deal isn’t completed this week. But the odds of Tejada being with the Orioles on Opening Day are about the same as Barry Bonds getting an asterisk tattoo on his left bicep.

Miggi played his last game as an O. Its overdue. Its been discussed. We’ll discuss it again when it goes down.

They’re not looking to contend in 2008. They’re trying to rid themselves of bad contracts, and move players who can bring prospects in return while waiting for their own to climb the organizational ladder and join Nick Markakis on the big league roster. If they can, they’ll plug in a mid-level free-agent as a stop-gap, most likely in the rotation. Nothing splashy. If it isn’t Steve Trachsel – and yes, he’s available – it’ll be his clone. And we’ll be asked to remain patient and put our faith in a redesigned front office, coaching and developmental staff that have the right ideas in mind. Now it’s a matter of executing them.I’ll be patient for this. If there’s a vision and a plan that’s finally be executed that will get this team (over time) back to where it should be, I can deal with a few more crummy seasons. Just no more signing Millars and Huffs and saying we’re almost there.

For those of you anticipating big news to come out of the GM meetings today – or anytime this week – you might be a little disappointed.

Though Orioles officials will be busy this week, it would be a major surprise if they pulled off a trade. It’s just not expected to happen this soon. But stay tuned. Maybe someone will overwhelm them.

End of Roch talking, beginning of me talking (can’t fix the mishap I had with the indent key)

Hey, for once I was hoping we’d come out of the gate with the big trade. That’s not happening. We’ll hear the talk of being smart and holding out for the right deal. That’s true and that’s fine. There’s the talk of letting the market set itself. I hate that. We can wait  and get the right deals but let’s not kill good deals by sandbagging. Let’s not wait til January or Febuary for A-Rod to sign and then court the losers of the sweepstakes. By then most teams will have filled their holes and we’re left holding what we had last season.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Thanks to Roch for giving me something to read during the offseasn and a little hope that things will finally change.

Cleaning House

A good sign for our beleagured team is that the house is finally starting to get cleaned. So far its minor pieces mostly, but this franchise has to start getting new blood in every facet of the team to get back to where it ought to be.

Since MacPhail came aboard number of folks have been giving their walking papers

Traded

Steve Trachsel

*Trachsel served his purposed for us. I’m not going to trash him. He was better than I thought.  

Free Agents Filees

JR House

Jon Knott

*I felt both of these guys never got a fair shake. House should have gotten sometime at catcher because Paul Bako was not a must play player. I guess though, 28 year old career AAAA players aren’t the foundation for rebuilding. Still though…I would have liked to see them get at bats.

Paul Shuey

Victor Zambrano

Victor Santos

Rob Bell

Eider Torres

*I’m not gonna miss these guys. Wright was doomed from the start, a project for Leo Mazzone that couldn’t stay healthy. Bell and Shuey brought up memories of Jim Brower and John Hlama. Zambrano was a signing just to have a body in the rotation after everyone went down.

Waivered

Kurt Birkins (claimed by Tampa Bay)

Adam Stern (unclaimed)

Val Majewski (unclaimed)

*Birkins was shuffled b/t Norfolk and Baltimore so much, he’s probably looking forward to playing in Tampa. It’s not that he was good or bad, he’s average. Not a huge loss. Stern and Majewski are still with the team after passing through waivers, though probably won’t be for long. Shame about Majewski, he had potential but that shoulder injury really messed things up for him.

Coaches/Front Office

Major League Coaches

Tom Treblehorn (bench coach)

Leo Mazzone (pitching coach)

Sam Meijas (1st base coach)

Sam Snider

Rudy Arias

*Mazzone’s the big name here. Firing Sam Snider or Tom Treblehorn isn’t going to turn the O’s into winners. But you have to let your manager pick his coaches, every single one of them. If it means letting some nice guys who probably weren’t the problem go, that’s the business. I hope they land on their feet. I wish Terry Crowley’s name was on this list.

minor league coaches

Andy Etchebarren (Aberdeen manager)

Bien Figueroa (Bowie Manager)

Tom Lawless (roving baserunning and infield coach)

Doc Watson (minor pitching coach)

Front Office

Jim Duquette (co-GM)

*Flannagan’s name will be here shortly.

Benson’s option declined

Kris Benson’s Oriole career is done. After playing one season with the O’s and one season on the DL, the O’s declined his 7.5 Million dollar option for next season. It makes sense. Part of me thinks, 7.5 million for a starter isn’t that bad of a price. But…he sat out for a year with a torn labrum, he’s 32 years old, and let’s face it…Kris Benson has not been the player he was touted to be. The topic was discussed at Camden Chat today and the word used to describe Benson was a ‘bust.’ It’s true.

Since I live about 30 minutes away from Clemson University and am a big fan of the Tigers, I saw Benson when he was playing in college. He was supposed to be the next big thing. The Pirates drafted him 1st overall and he’s been nothing but medicore for his career.  Here’s the stats to back me up. 68-73 career record should be proof enough.

That being said, a team could do a lot worse for a 4th or 5th starter than Benson, barring he can stay healthy. I really thought that he would have really got it all together with Leo Mazzone. It really didn’t happen with a 11-12 record in 2006, but he did get screwed over by the bullpen alot that year. But then again, most Oriole pitchers can lay claim to that.

Happy trails to you Kris Benson and your fetching wife. Here’s hoping you land somewhere and can finally pitch like a number 1 draft pick.