- Winter Preview----Baltimore Orioles:
Considering the division they're in it'll be hard to tell, but the Orioles are getting better.
What they need: A third baseman; a respected, veteran starting pitcher; a serviceable closer; bullpen help; a power bat for DH/1B/OF.
Free agents: RHP Danys Baez; 3B Mevlin Mora; LHP Mark Hendrickson; C Chad Moeller
Baez will get a decent offer somewhere, probably with a pretty good club to pitch out of their bullpen; possibly the Mets; Omar Minaya's always liked Baez.
Mora has been a loyal Oriole through the long years of endless losing but the marriage is ending bitterly and Mora needs a change-of-scenery. It makes sense for the participants to part ways; Mora would like a better chance to win; the Orioles need more pop from the position from a younger player.
They'd like to keep Hendrickson because he's an experienced professional who can start or relieve; there's a good chance of that happening.
Moeller will get a job somewhere as a defensive specialist/backup catcher who can handle pitchers. He won't be back.
Players available via trade: OF/DH Luke Scott; 1B/3B/DH Ty Wigginton; OF Felix Pie; LHP Rich Hill
Scott is a lefty bat with pop and he's a good guy in the clubhouse, but he's arbitration eligible and is due a big raise. GM Andy MacPhail could probably get a piece or two for him in a trade.
Wigginton was a disappointment after signing a 2-year contract as a free agent. His salary's not ridiculous ($3.5 million), but it's hard to see anyone taking it off their hands. 11 homers in 446 plate appearances----in Camden Yards no less----isn't going to cut it; but they're stuck with Wigginton unless they take someone else's bad contract. It's a possibility.
Pie was a disappointment with the Cubs; he was a disappointment with the Orioles. He'll be 25 early next year and it's time to either deliver on all his promise or accept what he is. Someone would take Pie to try and get him to mature as a player.
Hill's getting non-tendered, so no one's going to trade for him unless they think they can unlock his talent. He's shown signs of losing any and all command of the strike zone, so he's a project if someone wants to take a chance; he won't be figuring it out in Baltimore.
Non-tender candidates: LHP Rich Hill; RHP Cla Meredith; RHP Chris Ray
Hill and Meredith are gone; Ray's probably gone too, but he's a guy I'd consider keeping. He's had injury problems (Tommy John surgery), but he had a great arm and talent before then and was closing somewhat effectively. He got shelled last year, so he's likely to get non-tendered and signed by a team like the Marlins who find bargains and rehabilitate them.
Players to pursue:
Free agents: RHP Rafael Soriano (Braves); LHP Doug Davis (Diamondbacks); LHP Billy Wagner (Red Sox); RHP Kevin Gregg (Cubs); RHP Jason Marquis (Rockies); RHP Brandon Lyon (Tigers); RHP Fernando Rodney (Tigers); 1B Nick Johnson (Marlins); RHP J.J. Putz (Mets); RHP Brett Myers (Phillies); RHP Pedro Martinez (Phillies)
Again there are the lower tier closers or those rehabbing from injuries and trying to replenish their images and/or careers. It's hard to see the Orioles getting the relievers who will be in demand like Wagner and Soriano; but they certainly could get a Myers, Gregg, Lyon or Rodney at a reasonable price and they can do the job as the closer for a bad team until someone younger and better can be groomed.
Davis is a guy who somehow gets by with stuff that can't even be described as mediocre and is a .500 pitcher every single year. Any pitcher who can will his way to getting big league hitters out with such junk should be a good influence on the posse of talented youngsters that are at long last making their way to the big leagues for the Orioles.
Pedro Martinez wants to pitch next year and could fall to the Orioles to get that chance. While under normal circumstances, Pedro wouldn't want to go to a losing situation, this is different. Given how long he waited to join a big league club in 2009, it's not out of the question that he'd be willing to go to Baltimore and be a mentor to the youngsters.
Marquis will have enough offers to go to a better team than the Orioles, but he's a veteran who gobbles innings. That's something to keep tabs on.
Via trade: INF/OF/C Brandon Inge (Tigers); OF David DeJesus (Royals); OF Marlon Byrd (Rangers); 1B/3B Jorge Cantu (Marlins); OF Cody Ross (Marlins); RHP Derek Lowe (Braves); Garrett Atkins (Rockies)
Inge could be part of the Tigers slashing of salaries and can play multiple positions well and hits for power.
DeJesus is a good player stuck in a situation in Kansas City that's worse than the one in Baltimore.
Byrd is a solid veteran with some pop. Cantu will be expensive, but would solve the Orioles third base problem and hits the ball out of the park. The same applies to Ross.
The Braves are shopping Lowe; he's expensive in money, but won't cost much in terms of players for whoever's willing to take the contract. The thing about Lowe is that he can relieve as well as start; he'd be a good influence on the Orioles youngsters.
Atkins lost his starting job for the Rockies and is being shopped. He's arbitration-eligible and will be moved.
- The "controversy" over Tim Lincecum's Cy Young Award:
There's a back-and-forth going on between the "traditional" baseball watchers (old-school) and the stat zombies because Keith Law and Will Carroll left Chris Carpenter off of their ballots entirely for the NL Cy Young Award.
Lincecum deserved to win the award as I said in my posting on October 5th----link. I had Wainwright second; Carpenter third; Javier Vazquez (who Law had second) fourth; and Jair Jurrjens fifth.
Given the arbitrary nature in which many voters who are more old-school tend to cast their ballots, it's absurd to give guys like Law and Carroll a hard time for basing their selections on what they believe. Vazquez would've won 22 games with a better bullpen, so it's not stupid to have him rated as highly as Law did.
Just like with the Hall of Fame, there are no baseline criteria for a candidate. Many times a writer's beliefs----such as a reliever shouldn't win the award under any circumstances, etc----influence him. Sometimes it's payback. Is Law's vote any more ridiculous than in 2000 when Yankees beat writer/rabid Yankee apologist George King refused to vote for Pedro Martinez for the MVP because he was a pitcher (this is after King gave votes to two pitchers the season before)?
What would King's vote have been had Pedro been wearing a Yankee uniform rather than a Red Sox uniform? Pedro deserved the MVP that year.
There are different ways to come to conclusions in situations such as this, just like in procuring players and building teams. There are plenty of other reasons to attack the stat zombies; this ain't one of them.
The right guy won anyway----Tim Lincecum.