ORIOLES HOT STOVE

Hello everyone and allow me to introduce myself. My name Is Alan Z and I will be writing the new Camden Central Blog. I am a life-long O’s fan from Baltimore residing in Florida. I will deliver a fair and impartial blog. I will not bash the organization, I will criticize when necessary. There is a difference between the two. I welcome all of your comments and opinions on all of my blogs and look forward to hearing from all fans, Oriole, Yankee; Red Sox fans, it doesn’t matter let the comments fly.

 The Orioles had a very promising finish in 2010, under Buck Showalter the O’s finished with a 34-23 record. No losing season has ended with such hope for the future since the “Why Not” Orioles in 1989. The Orioles were expected to contend in the mid to late 90’s but after finishing 54-107 in 1988, no one expected the 1989 Orioles to take the Toronto Blue Jays to the last weekend of the 89 regular season. With the recent turnaround of perennial cellar dweller Tampa Rays, the Orioles and their fans are expecting a similar organizational build to continue and a much improved 2011 season.

Showalter has begun the off-season getting his coaching staff lined up. Showalter brought in long time friend Mark Connor as the Orioles pitching coach for the upcoming season. Connor has been on every staff that Showalter has ever managed. Connor becomes the 12th O’s pitching coach since 1994. Oriole’s interim mid-season manager Juan Samuel has yet to agree to terms to rejoin the club as its third base coach and recently The Baltimore Sun reported that former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu will become the bench coach in Toronto. Wakamatsu had done the same job for Showalter when he managed the Texas Rangers.

The Orioles may be coming into the season with the youngest staff in Major League Baseball once again. A staff that has to constantly battle 4 of the top 10 offenses in all of baseball. Jeremy Guthrie will lead the top of this young staff and Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergsen, Zach Britton, Chris Tillman, Rick Vanden Hurk and Troy Patton will all look to round out the rotation come spring. The Orioles will need to add a veteran innings eater once again as Kevin Millwood will sign elsewhere. Some potential targets for the O’s are Jon Garland, Carl Pavano and Jake Westbrook, all have been mentioned as possible inning eater replacements for Kevin Millwood. I will get a lot more in-depth on this coverage in the next few days.

Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy Mcphail has made no beans about acquiring a bat for the middle of the lineup and the Orioles defiantly need a corner IF with power. A power hitting third or first baseman to squeeze in between Markakis, Jones and Wieters is needed for this organization to build on its successful finish in 2010. The O’s I-95 Beltway rival has a guy the O’s may be interested in. Adam Dunn (.260, 38HR, 103RBI). Eutaw St would be a nice easy short stroke for the 30-year-old Dunn. I’ve heard Cubs first baseman Derrick Lee could also be an Oriole next year but I don’t see McPhail going that route. My sources tell me that smart money is on a guy the Orioles have been coveting since 2005.  Paul Konerko, The Orioles actually offered more money than the White Sox did in 2005 but Konerko took less, stayed put and tried to win another World Series with Chicago.  At 34 Konerko won’t get the top-tier free agent money, opening the door for the O’s to get him at a decent price. Konerko had a great 2010 season putting up solid power hitting numbers (.312, 39HR,111RBI). Konerko would be a nice addition to a clubhouse filled with youth and inexperience. The Orioles won’t offer to 3B Adrian Beltre, after trying to land him last off season, he was clear about not wanting to be an Oriole during free agency last year. Another 2010 Red Sox that could play in Camden Yards in 2011 is Victor Martinez (.302, 20HR, 79RBI’S). Martinez could play first base and DH as well as do some catching at times. The only problem in dishing out the money Martinez may want are his injury concerns. Martinez  played in just 127 games in 2010. The Orioles certainly have a lot of opportunity to make a splash in the off-season. Please O’s fans don’t look for Cliff Lee or Carl Crawford to be wearing black and orange next year but it’s fair to say that a few good veteran names could be. Andy McPhail will sign the players best fit to be an Oriole in 2011, players that will help this team improve upon a promising finish in 2010. Buck Showalter will get the most of what McPhail hands him and O’s fans should start to see a return to the Oriole Way next season.

Look for Orioles Hot stove talk weekly on his blog. Any breaking news will be met with an updated blog.

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Trachsel Returns

Steve Trachsel is back. After a brief trip to Chicago, the Orioles signed Trax back today. I did let out a groan when I saw this, but after a minute or two….its not as bad you’d think for a couple of reasons.

1. It’s a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. He’s not guaranteed a spot on the 40 man roster. If he stinks it up during spring training, he can be cut or play in Norfolk.

2. He can eat innings. He’s not anything special, but if he can go out there and go 6 or maybe even 7 innings that’s great. Adam Loewen is back, but will take time to work his way back up 100%. Cabrera could go nine innings or not even make it out of the first. With the slew of young pitchers coming up, they’re going to having outings that are short. Our bullpen has never been a beacon of perfection. With all of the young starters have and will have, the bullpen has to be protected with a starter or two that can give the bullpen a rest. Guthrie showed he do it last season, Cabrera can at times, and Trachsel could at times too.

3. Maybe he can teach the kids a thing or two, hopefully not how to pitch really really slow.

4. There’s no two or three year contract for Josh Fogg or Kyle Loshe. I’d rather have the possibility of Trachsel back rather than undermining rebuilding and committing money long term to bad pitchers. I’d rather give one a minor league deal.

I’m not in love with this deal, but its a practical one. Maybe if he makes the team and the young arms progress well maybe he’ll be traded again. Maybe a few young pitchers outpitch him in spring training and he doesn’t even make the team.

The Day After

Now its the day after the Bedard trade and we’re over the ‘unbridled enthusaism’ of the big trade going down (and I have a brand spanking new mouse), let’s take a step back and look at things.

The team has given up its ace for 5 players. 2 of those players will be on the team this year, by season’s end Tillman and Kam will likely be on the big club. I doubt Butler will be in Baltimore until 2009, though I could be wrong.

Going in the week, the O’s had holes at SS, CF, and closer. No need to bring back Corey Patterson now, Adam Jones is our new centerfielder. George Sherrill, a setup man by trade, looks as if he’ll be working the ninth this season. Now shortstop is the spot that needs addressing. I’d rather not see Luis Hernandez playing and I sure don’t want to see Brandon Fahey there. If the team doesn’t make another move, I’d honestly rather see Freddie Bynum play short (no joke). In the next week or two though, I’m sure Brian Roberts will be traded and this season’s shortstop will be coming to Baltimore. Ronnie Cedeno maybe? Doesn’t excite me, but maybe last season in the minors and a change of scenery will do the trick for him. He’d be better than Fahey and company.

Of course, Bedard leaving means we don’t have an ace. I’m sure Jeremy Guthrie will be our number one this season. If he pitches like he did last season, then that’s the best spot for him on the team for the time being. In a year or two, maybe Troy Patton or Chris Tillman will become an ace. Maybe Adam Loewen. Who knows. We’ve lost a good pitcher, who has the potential to be great. If he stays healthy and keeps progressing at the rate he is, he’ll be great. I hate to see him go and I hope that over the past two weeks I haven’t appeared to want to get rid of him for the sake of getting rid of him. In a perfect world, Erik Bedard would retire an O. The world ain’t perfect and the O’s sure aren’t. He didn’t want to commit long-term to a rebuilding team. I can’t blame him for wanting to go to a winning team. To get something good you have to give up something good and Bedard was the ‘goodest’ thing the team had. I wish him well and hope he has a great season in Seattle (except when he pitches against the Orioles). Seeing him pitch in teal and white though will make me a little jaded. It’ll be kind of like seeing your ex-girlfriend with another guy right after a breakup. You’re alittle pissed and jealous at first, but once you realize that it was necessary to end things….you feel alot better. In a year or two, when you’re engaged another girl and you look at what you end up, hopefully, you can look back and say “Yeah, things were good back then, but this will be a lot better.”

 This season will be an audition for a lot of these players to see what they have and what they can contribute to this team long term.

It’s a happy day. Rebuilding has happened. The outfield is looking awesome. The organization has depth in the minors. There’s a surplus of young arms. Dare I say the bullpen could be better this season. Now let’s see some dead weight moved. I’m going to need to order me an Adam Jones jersey soon.

Bedard Trade FINALLY Done

It’s finally done.

From ESPN

Baltimore received outfielder Adam Jones, who will probably start in center field on Opening Day. The Orioles also obtained reliever George Sherrill and pitchers Chris Tillman, Tony Butler and Kam Mickolio.

I like the return, while I would have liked Clement or Triufel being in the deal, we made out pretty good.

Adam Jones- This should be our centerfielder for the next six years (at least). I’ve heard and read that he should be the next Tori Hunter, he’s going be better than Torii Hunter, he’s a blend between Torii Hunter and Mike Cameron. This kid should be good. I’m looking forward to an outfield of Luke Scott, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis. Man, that’s the best outfield we’ve had in ten years. Remember when Ed Rodgers was playing left field against the Mets two years ago and lost the ball in his jersey? Yeah, we won’t have to worry about that anymore.

LF Scott                                     CF Jones                                         RF Markakis

That’s awesome…..or rather potentially all around awesome. Nick is already. We’ll have to see about the other two.  

George Sherrill- At first I was thinking why are they wanting to get a 31 year old reliever in this deal? Upon further reading, he’ll be under team under for the next 4 seasons. He’s a lefty who can setup or close. A bullpen lefty like him can pitch 8 more years. He’ll close for us this season more than likely and next offseason he can be traded again or if he has a good reason, well….let’s hold on to a good bullpen guy.

Chris Tillman was the M’s minor league pitcher of the year last season. If either him or Tony Butler turn in a solid rotation pitcher that’s awesome. If both pan out, then it’s awesomer. The great thing about these guys is that they can pitch in the minors this season and if as the season progresses an injury occurs, we’ve got depth in the minors. Good young pitching depth! No Victor Zambrano or Russ Ortiz signings!

Kam Mickolio is probably going to be our closer in the next year or two. He’s supposed to have some nasty stuff and with a name like that I’m sure he’s going to be nasty.

It’s a great day. Rebuilding is underway. The O’s are no longer trying to give us patchwork teams that can win 70 games. This season will probably be tough. Next season too. But I’m definately going to order my Extra Innings this season so I can see my O’s progress. MacPhail has a plan and it’s happening. He wants a team that’s deep on pitching and if two or three of the pitchers he got from Houston and Seattle pan out, we’re on the way back up.

This has been the best offseason for me in a long time. For years all we’ve had is the horrible near signings. Players use the O’s to drive up their price for the teams they really want to go to (Carlos Lee, Vlad, Korenko). There hasn’t been any crappy signing like the Huffs and Paytons. There hasn’t been any horrible contract extensions (Melvin Mora, Jay Gibbons).

What’s next? Is Brian Roberts getting traded? It probably should happen, but it doesn’t have to happen right now. I want some of the dead weight to go away. I don’t want Jay Gibbons, Jay Payton, Melvin Mora, and Huff taking away playing time from the future of the team. I’m anxious to see what MacPhail can get for them. Not much I’m sure, but he did well with the Traschel trade.

Kind of all over the place with this post, but its been that kind of week. Anyway, It’s been a great day. I hate to Bedard go, but the deal has to happen. If the team is going to rebuild, we have to get the best return we can. Bedard has brought us back the most. Happy Trails, Erik. You were awesome and I’ll miss you.

ESPN: Deal ‘close’ to happening

Another day, another inch closer to this trade with the Mariners.

The Baltimore Sun and Seattle Post-Intelligencer are reporting that Mariners outfielder Adam Jones — the key prospect the Orioles are expected to receive for Bedard — is in Baltimore to take a physical.

All right, so the physical is finally happening or has just happened. This might happen tomorrow or it might drag out another couple days. The fact is that now with physicals happening, the question isn’t now if this trade happens, it’s when.

The Sun, citing an unnamed source, reported Monday that the trade of Bedard from Baltimore to Seattle is pending only completion of physicals. The newspaper reported that if Jones passes his physical, a trade could be announced as soon as Monday.

Nope, it didn’t happen today….but maybe tomorrow. I read somewhere, maybe the Seattle PI, that Sherrill had his physical in Baltimore today too and has already flown back to Arizona.

A little something else here….

Jones, 22, is regarded by scouts and executives with other teams as a rising star. “He’s going to be a monster,” an AL talent evaluator told ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney. “If you put he and Nick Markakis in the same outfield, that is the start of something.”

I’m going to bed. With the Superbowl last night and work today, I’m beat. You know who else is beat? The Pats. Ha ha ha. Last night was the first time ever I think, that I’ve cheered for a New York team. It might be the last time too. It was an awesome game.

Roch: Deal happening ‘pretty soon’

For whatever it’s worth, Roch talked to a scout outside of the involved parties who said that the Bedard deal happening pretty soon.

“Even if they lose four or five more games, they’re going in the right direction,” he said. “They’ll be up and down, but people will see the light at the end of the tunnel, where there’s a future. Right now, they’re finally going in the right direction. I think what they’re getting from Seattle is outstanding.”

I’ll take losing for a bit longer with hope that Jones, Tillman, Patton, the rest of the players from Houston and Seattle and whoever we get if we trade Roberts will form a solid core around Markakis and some of the young pitching we already have. We might epically stink for the next season or two, but that’s fine. I’d rather lose big short term with young talented players rather than stay 4th place and lose with washout players like Huff and company.

We could be looking at this rotation this season (in no exact order)

Guthrie

Loewen

Patton

Then take your pick of two Penn, Tillman, Cabrera, Liz, Olson, Albers, Sarfate, and possibly Gallagher and/or Marshall if we trade with the Cubs.

There’s depth there. Not sure if it’ll be great depth, but its young depth.  Some of these guys will have be playing in Norfolk of course. But its obvious that MacPhail values pitching and hey, we’re going to have a ton of young arms. If a few of them pan out, we’ll be in good shape for the long haul.

Another plus of this will be that we’re not held hostage by Daniel Cabrera’s potenitial anymore. If he starts his usual routine again, then we can plug in another young kid who could not stink as much as he can. Another plus is that we won’t be seeing the likes of Russ Ortiz, Victor Zambrano, and such. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s see these trades happen, then I can be happy about depth.

That’s it for me this weekend. It’s been a busy week for me both with doing this and everything else. Going to enjoy the rest of the weekend, hope for a Giants win tomorrow (to spite the Pats because I really don’t care about the Giants), and see you all Monday with hopefully a post about the Bedard trade finalized and this whole saga can be put to rest.

Another day, another denial

Here’s the latest via ESPN

When Jones was quoted as saying the deal was completed, this created a rules question, sources say: If the Jones went for his physical examination, would the Orioles then be beholden to accept him, even if the physical exam did not go well.

The Orioles have asked the Mariners for written language that Seattle will submit Jones and Sherrill for a physical examination by the Orioles — and if they pass physicals, then and only then will Baltimore be obligated to finish the trade. The inherent risk for the Mariners is that if either Jones or Sherrill were to flunk their physicals in Baltimore, then the respective value of the players would be diminished within the industry.

 Apparently, Jones’ admission that the trade happened created this ‘rules issue.’

Roch says that Bedard’s agent has said the extension talk is nonsense.

Mark Pieper, who represents Erik Bedard and Brian Roberts and has become a household name around here, just sent out an e-mail to Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec and a few others, disputing the MLB.com story posted last night that said the Orioles contacted Bedard late Sunday night about signing an extension and learned that the left-hander is seeking a seven-year, $100 million deal.

Make your own judgment. I’m just passing it along. The report that appeared yesterday regarding Erik Bedard on MLB.com is wholly inaccurate and contains nothing factual. Quite honestly, that type of journalism is irresponsible and reckless.

So the extension ISN’T happening? I’m ready to get off this rollercoaster. Since Sunday, we’re gone from:

-Adam Jones telling a reporter that he’s been pulled from Venezuela and will be flying to Baltimore to take a physical because he’s the centerpiece in a trade for Erik Bedard.

-Andy MacPhail saying this is not true and Adam Jones wouldn’t be in Baltimore for anything as far as he knew.

-Peter Angelos in the hospital, but don’t worry he’s well enough to nix a deal.

-Adam Jones supposedly has a degenerative hip (not true)

-Angelos is mad about the deal leaking out and wants more as a result.

-MacPhail said talks are ongoing with Mariners but he’s listening to other teams (Jon Heymen says Cleveland made a late bid to get in on this.

-Word comes from MLB.com that Angelos wants to resign Bedard longterm (5 years 100 million) and that if they can’t resign him….the trade is on.

-Bedard’s agent says that’s a lie and that there are no talks for an extension

-The trade could happen any minute now….or not.

Will we know tomorrow? I’m not holding my breath.