Not a ton of substantial Oriole news from the Winter meetings. The most interesting thing that was reported was the gulf between what the Texas Rangers were asking in trade for Kevin Millwood and what the Orioles were willing to offer. According to Spencer Fordin, the Rangers wanted Chris Tillman and the O's were offering Brandon Erbe or David Hernandez.
I'm not crazy about Millwood pitching in orange and black but if you had to trade someone, David Hernandez would be the only acceptable piece to give up.
Speaking of Fordin, he also talked with Oriole manager Dave Trembley about the closer situation for 2010:
Trembley said that he'd rather not rely on Jim Johnson or Koji Uehara as his closer, preferring instead to slot them earlier in the game.
I think Uehara would be great in the closer's role, imagine a Trevor Hoffman type vs. Mariano Rivera. But it sounds like the Trembley is interested in a "proven" guy for that role.
How do you say Screech in Japanese? Jeff Fiorentino may soon find out as he signs a one year deal with the Hiroshima Carp. Yet another team for me to follow this season.
Like Arlo Guthrie said, "When you're down it always feels better to know someone's got it worse than you. But what about the last guy? Nobody's got it worse than that last guy." That's kind of what it's like to be an Oriole fan. We've got it bad but the Nationals fan is that last guy.
First, the Nats traded their Rule 5 draft pick , the first overall, to the Yankees for RP Brian Bruney, a middling reliever with control problems who has filled a ROOGY role for the Yankees the last three seasons. The Nats can afford to carry a Rule 5 guy on their roster more than any team in baseball but choose to send that pick to New York for...well, you could find a guy like this on the scrapheap.
Secondly, they signed veteran catcher Ivan Rodrigez to a two-year deal worth $6 million total. Forget that there were comparable players available for less years and less money, forget that this is 2009 and not 1999...actually don't forget any of this. The Nats overpaid mightily for an aging inferior player.
The team got older, less talented and more expensive. It's rough to be a Nationals fan.
The Wayward O has the first in hopefully a long series of posts called O Fights! It's gnarly.
I won't even begin to pretend that I understand all this but over at Fangraphs.com, Dave Allen attempts to show that Gregg Zaun is a fabulous blocker of pitches.
Always interested to see strides made in measuring catcher defense and this may explain in a small way why Zaun's catcher ERA was lower than Wieters' when he was traded to Tampa Bay.
Tip of the hat to Weaver's Tantrum who wrote about way-under-the-radar-free-agent SP Justin Duchscherer and the possible fit with the Orioles. The thought had crossed my mind but I haven't seen anybody else even hint at the possibility. But it makes a lot of sense.
Dave Mc is a righteous dude.
John Sickels has his Top 20 Oriole Prospects up at MinorLeagueBaseball.com. No big surprises on the list but a few notes:
- SP Zach Britton is at #3. Sickels likes Britton a lot and so do I. At least as much as you can like a pitcher whom I've never seen pitch.
- C Caleb Joseph is at #16. Sickels doesn't like his defense.
Most of the prospects are in the low minors. To conclude:
I think the Orioles system is often underrated. There is a lot to like at the top, with Matusz entering the '10 rotation and Arrieta not far behind him. I probably like Arrieta and Britton a bit more than most analysts. Erbe has tremendous potential as well. There is the nucleus of a really good pitching staff here, with several potential major league starters as well as the raw material of a fine bullpen, with a mixture of excellent arms (Mickolio, Lebron, Cooney) as well as guys with command (Egan, Gamboa) who could be fine staff fillers....
All in all, this system has some major strength in young pitching but they could stand to boost the hitting.
Which is, of course, just as Andy MacPhail likes it.
MVN is no more. I wrote a bit for MVN last year. My take: Some great content on MVN but it was a lousy platform to blog on. Never like the new layout they did either. It was hideous and difficult to read.
That said, it's sad to see them go. Oriole Central was over there and they are gone. Oriole Magic was over there too and still appear to be live on that platform. I assume this will not last long. I am curious to see where these peices on the Oriole blogosphere end up. And I'm glad I kept this original version of Dempsey's Army up and running.
Twitter is a-buzz with winter meeting news. I sent a tweet to Baseball America's Ben Badler to inquire about Oriole SP prospect Steve Johnson and the Rule 5 draft:
@BenBadler re: Rule 5 - O's fans worried about AA SP Steve Johnson being unprotected. Any real danger here?
BenBadler @DempseysArmy Definitely a chance he gets picked
Well, that's not what I wanted to hear. Sometimes we fans overrate our own prospects and I was thinking that Johnson wouldn't be on anyone's radar. Evidently, that's not the case. Not maybe...but definitely a chance sounds like it's at least 50/50.