Decision coming with Gonzalez, talks with Philly dead for now, Rangers good fit for Wiggy
The Orioles will have an interesting decision to make next week on the status of rehabbing reliever Michael Gonzalez, who was hammered for two runs and three hits in 2/3 of an inning for Triple-A Norfolk last night. Gonzalez, who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since blowing a save in the Orioles’ home opener on April 9, has now allowed six runs, 13 hits and two walks in 11 2/3 innings spanning 11 rehab outings. Because his rehab assignment can only last 30 days per league rules, he’ll only have two or three more outings remaining before his minor league tour comes to an end on Wednesday. Do the Orioles ignore his problems getting minor league hitters out and just call him up then? Or do they do something similar than what they did for Dennis Sarfate last year and keep Gonzalez on the DL, send him back to Sarasota to throw some bullpens and buy them some time before making a decision? My guess is they’ll just activate him in time for the Minnesota Twins series next week, but it’s certainly not a given if he struggles in his final two or three rehab outings.
Speaking of pitchers named Gonzalez, I wrote about 10 days ago that the Orioles were getting closer to an agreement with their 11th round pick, Alexander Gonzalez, a right-handed pitcher from Boca Raton High School in Fla. Well, in the days since, they’ve lost a lot of ground there and it’s now nowhere near a formality. The Orioles have agreed to terms with just one of their top-10 selections (4th-rounder Trent Mummey) although they aren’t particularly concerned because they’ve made progress on several of them.
At this point, talks between the Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies about infielders Miguel Tejada and Ty Wigginton are dead, according to one source. The Phillies apparently are content to leave Placido Polanco at third base and use Wilson Valdez at second until Chase Utley is ready to return. With two weeks remaining before the trade deadline, things could change, especially if the Orioles’ asking price for Wigginton drops. But as of right now, there isn’t much going on between the two teams.
This is more opinion than anything, but it certainly appears that the Texas Rangers, who could use a right-handed bat, are the best fit for Wigginton. The Rangers have already shown their aggressiveness by acquiring catcher Bengie Molina and ace Cliff Lee, and they are currently scouting Wigginton. Their highly-touted farm system also has several young shortstops. Baseball America ranks three shortstops – Jurickson Profar (5), Luis Sardinas (13) and Leury Garcia (15) – among the Rangers’ top 15 prospects. I don’t claim to have inside knowledge on the Rangers’ system, but I wouldn’t think a guy like Profar, a 17-year-old and former Little League hero for Curacao, would be in play for Wigginton. He's considered a little more than a mid-level prospect. However, Sardinas and Garcia could be possibilities, and the Rangers also have a 25-year-old utility man Joaquin Arias, who has shortstop experience, on their roster.
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said on Thursday that the Orioles are in position to potentially claim a player who another team puts on waivers to potentially shed a big contract. That happened last year when the Chicago White Sox claimed talented Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios, a gutsy move that has paid off with Rios regaining his All-Star form. We all know how many problems the Orioles have in attracting proven free agents so it could be a way for the team to get a solid, albeit well-compensated player without giving up any young talent. “A claim would be something that would definitely be attractive," MacPhail said. "The trade for a big-time player, if it’s going to subtract from the core guys you are trying to build around, that becomes more problematic. It’s something you obviously would have to look at.”
The Tampa Bay Rays will be in town next week, and they’ll certainly see a different Orioles’ team than the one they opened the season against on April 6. Of the 14 players (nine hitters, five position players) to see action on Opening Day, only seven of them are currently on the Orioles’ 25-man roster. Brian Roberts, Luke Scott, Matt Wieters, Kevin Millwood, Jim Johnson and Gonzalez are all on the disabled list while Garrett Atkins was released.