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October 8, 2010

Predict the free agent most likely to sign with the Orioles

One of my assignments this week was to put together a list of potential Orioles’ free agent targets for 2011.

That’s been done. Here’s the story, and here is the always popular photo gallery that goes with it.

To compile my list, I spoke to a bunch of people within the organization about whom the club may target. That, of course, is different than who will eventually sign with the Orioles.

It takes two parties to make an agreement happen. We all know that.

Still, Cliff Lee and Adrian Beltre, for instance, are on the list I compiled. Those are the two free agents the Orioles likely covet the most since they’d fill the team’s biggest holes.

Realistically, no one expects Beltre or Lee to end up here. They’ll have a whole lot of choices and there will be a whole lot of money on the table. And, given their recent history and the division they are in, the Orioles don’t do well when there is serious competition for a free agent.

But there are some free agents within the Orioles’ grasp simply because there may not be a lot of competition, and the Orioles presumably have money to spend. And, ultimately, money is what most attracts free agents.

The first basemen class – albeit flawed – has some interesting names, ones the Orioles could land if they are willing to spend sufficient funds. Adam Dunn likely would want a four-year deal and it would take some cash to pry Paul Konerko away from Chicago (again).

My guess is that the Orioles will go hard after Victor Martinez and/or Derrek Lee. And if I had to pick one, I’d say Lee becomes an Oriole seven years after he almost did.

He can play defense, still has some pop in his bat and is well-respected in the game. And don’t forget, he was a longtime Cub, and that’s always a bonus here.

So Derrek Lee is my guess. Now I want you to give me one free-agent name that you think will end up as an Oriole in 2011. Not necessarily who you want, but who you think will sign with the Orioles this winter.

Daily Think Special: Name one free agent you think ends up as an Oriole. Explain why.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 8:00 PM | | Comments (62)
Categories: Connolly's Corner Sports Bar
        

Comments

My heart tells me that MacPhail will sign Victor Martinez. He can be the regular 1B and also be an emergency catcher if something happens to Wieters. So there you have it, a versitile player who is also an offensive threat. He'll probably require a $13-16mil/4 year deal.

If Lee is the best we can come up with we might as well not try and get a big bat in free agency.

Lee would be a typcial MacPhail move. A player past his prime that he hopes has one good year left, but likely doesn't He'll probably wind up being another FA failure of MacPhail's tenure.

Hopefully Showalter demands better.

The biggest move the Orioles could make is to take away the checkbook from Andy MacPhail and give it to Buck, somebody who actually knows something about building a winning team since 1991.

Well that would be very Orioles-esque to sign Derrek Lee, who was almost exactly league average this year and will be 35 next year. I certainly hope it doesn't happen unless we get a bargain and a short-term deal.

I'm not sure too many of the Free Agents offer solid solutions to our many problems without also presenting significant downside. I don't think it's the right moment to sign Dunn or Konerko to any deal longer than 3 years, and I don't trust Beltre. Victor Martinez would be useful, though, but there are several obstacles to his coming here (he still wants to catch, Boston apparently wants to keep him, etc.)

My hope is still that McPhail is active in the trade market.

Could someone please explain to me how in the world we make Baltimore an appealing place for Martinez when we have Wieters as our full-time catcher?

Dan,

This is probably cheating cause he wasn't in the highlighted ten, but he was mentioned in the article. The most likely free agent signing is Izturis. Buck praised him over and over. With the young staff you do really need defense at SS. He is respected in the clubhouse and his career offensive numbers are better than last year's, giving some small reason for hope of better offense in 2011.

I do think the O's will get one of the 1st base guys. I'm going to say Victor Martinez. I think Mr. Angelos would like nothing better than to take someone from the Yanks or Sox. It is time to plug that hole, so I think Mr. Angelos might temporarily revert to his old ways and overspend. Also I think Mr. McPhail knows it is time to get a "bit less deliberate". We could guarantee him as many at bats as he wants and he has at times given some indications that more time at 1st would not necessarily be a bad thing. He would get more at bats than a typical starting catcher. He's young enough to give a few years to. He crushed left handers this year. I think the "mentor" to Wieters role would appeal to him. The Orioles have historically liked switch hitters and he has been consistent from both sides of the plate for his entire career. Buck really knows how to use flexibility and has the knack for managing AL games like NL games.

Or maybe I'm just dreaming.

Lee is on the downside and it would be a typical move for the O's -- not gonna happen this year.

Dunn isn't good enough in the field and will stay in the NL. Also a leftie, not interested unless Luke is traded.

Pena of a few years ago would have been OK, but his average is so low there would be too many comparisons to Garrett Atkins to take the chance.

Konerko is my backup. But I don't think it is as likely that we would over pay for him given his age and the color of his Sox. And as close as he is to the end of his career, I think he will decide either to finish there or go for the end of career championship chase.

Dimitios, that's the best I could do...and I probably am dreaming.


Why? Why would the Orioles get Lee, makes no sense...severe declining numbers, turning 35, and will face the competition he has ever seen in the east. If Lee is who our "impact bat" is this offseason, i will be the first to say that we were mislead badly! I dont think Buck would let this happen...

I would bet they sign Carlos Pena. Wbhy? He'll be cheap and they won't have to outspend another suitor.

Count me among those AGAINST a Derek Lee signing. Victor Martinez is the most alluring option in my opinion, if you think that Dunn will stay in the NL and that Konerko will never come to B-more in a million years. (I suscribe to both thoughts)

Martinez's consistancy (hitting right around .300 every year) and the fact that he's good from both sides of the plate, coupled with an ability to catch and play first, make him a very attractive option.

If a Martinez deal doesn't happen, then I believe the O's would be left with no recourse than to go hard after whoever is the best pitcher remaining and then work out a trade involving some of our young pitching and outfield depth for a starting 1B/3B with power.

Ultimatly, any sucess in 2011 for the Orioles will be centered around the starting pitchers collective ability to throw efficiently deep into games like they did for the most part in our sucessful run through August and September. A middle of the order bat who hits 40hrs is great, but if you look at the teams that have sucess in the post-season, a balanced lineup with high averages and ability to draw walks top to bottom, is the more effective solution, when you are the Baltimore Orioles and chances are you will have to choose between the two. Martinez would be a perfect fit in that regard.

As sad as it may be, Derrek Lee is looking like the highest option for the Orioles. But instead of looking at his downside (age, declining numbers, etc.) lets instead look at some positives. He would be coming to a more "home run friendly" park. Face it all those yeas in Chicago belting out home runs despite the swirling winds has got to count for something. A respected veteran presence in the clubhouse is exactly what we need here in Baltimore so instead of bashing the guy before he comes here, lets see what he has to offer first. (he most likely will be coming here regardless) Of course i would like to sign Beltre or Cliff but lets face it, neither is happening. Victor is pretty much out of the question seeing as he doesn't particularly want a 1st base first job. He's a catcher that can play first and he intends on keeping it that way. Redsox don't really want to give him up either. So i guess behind the once young Lee, Carlos Pena would most likely be signed. Not too old but not too young either with declining numbers and something to prove. Good place for him to turn last few years of hitting around. My prediction if he comes here he hits .275 with high 20's-low 30's hr.

We better be getting some discount coupons on these aging players however. Thanks Dan

What about Derek Jeter to replace Izturis? I'm kidding!

Derrek Lee, for the reasons you stated. And I am not as opposed to it as some people. He had a pretty good second half of the year this year and is an established veteran. He's only six months older than Konerko, who would be my first choice. But I don't expect Konerko to reproduce his career year numbers again next year. If it was Lee that had the big year and Konerko the down (by past performance) year how many of the Lee bashers on here would be singing a different tune?

Unless you can get a Cliff Lee or Beltre STAY WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION!!! why did O's give up on Scott Moore (a talented utility guy who was getting better). Re-sign Koji, Corey and Albers. Bring up Bell, Andino and Snyder. We then have Mahoney and Waring in AAA and in the wings. O's can always be buyers in July. It's time for the local media and the O's to start believing in their own product. go O's!

I would hope the O's would make serious runs at Jayson Werth or Victor Martinez. They both are at their peaks age wise.
Werth is a good fielder and is athletic. There is no reason he could not play first base. He is "mister hard nose" and a winner. This just the type player the O"s need.
Martinez would be a good fit with his bat and versatility. We couldn't miss with either player. I sure hope they don't sign another has been.

i don't see andy maxphail signing any free agents. he is a day late and a dollar short on his plan. he should have made an all out push when he took over as gm, but then again his hands are tied with peter the great holding the purse strings. victor martinez would be a nice addition to the team. i just don't see it happening. derrick lee is over the hill has been. cliff lee will be in pin stripes next seasn.

Derrick Lee. Why? Because he used to be a Cub and McPhail specializes in former Cubs.

We all know McPhail, he likes to take the low risk, high reward guys such as Lee and will not spend 13 million on a guy such as Victor or Dunn.

However, why arent there more rumors about the Orioles pursuing Mark Reynolds? Yes, his average is one of the lowest in baseball and he strikes out to much, but he is only 26 and with the Yards short porch in right, he could easily hit 40 homeruns. Assuming Arizona wants his contract off their books and would take a few average low A/AA prospects, why wouldnt the Birds make that move?

In the immortal words of Mick Jagger, "You can't always get what you want". This is to say we won't get Victor Martinez . If we settle for D. Lee, it would be doing the same thing we have been doing (signing an older player with declining numbers from a weaker division, pitching-wise, and expecting different results). I promise you that some of our more sarcastic fans would start calling him "Garrett Lee. As much as we want and need a right-handed power hitting corner infielder, we MUST get the right guy and not settle for less. Sorry but I don't see any Milt Pappas/Frank Robinson deals looming this off-season. This off season, we have to adopt the philosophy of the world Poker Tour..Patience and well-timed agression. And don't let anybody peek at your 'Hole Cards. I would rather get nobody than the wrong guy.

Go hard for Martinez, good stcik, good versatility, and has years left. Package Millwood, Jones, and one young arm for a younger, proven starter, Pay whatever for Adrian Beltre. NOW you have solved your problems!

Roberts 2b
Markakis rf
Beltre 3b
Scott dh
Martinez 1b
Weiters c
Pie cf
Patterson lf
itzuris ss

bench: Wigginton, Reimold, Andino, Fox

The Os have at least five key holes to fill. You don't do that by signing five big contracts (they can't afford it) and you pick your spots. A guy with superior defense, batted .309 with 35Hrs and 111 RBIs in '09 tails off to .260 with 19 Hrs and 80 RBI in 2010 can now be had for a two year contract at less than $10M/Yr. This keeps future options open and acts as a bridge to guys like Mahoney. Yet the other posters use the Atkins scenario to denigrate the guy. Atkins was on a multiyear downward spiral and never really had a historically big time year in CO despite favorable altitude. Whereas Lee has put up big #s for many, many seasons. Lee is the answer and he's a better option than any of the other FA choices, especially No D Dunn, Pena the K king or too much money Konerko because he does not require the O's to mortgage their future to get him. Even his 2010 stats compare favorably to every O except Scott. Look it up geniuses!

Dan,
Great article! I think Lee is most likely because of his history with McPhail. Not sure he is a legitimate big bat? Would the Orioles lose any draft picks if they signed Lee, Dunn, Martinez or Konerko? I wonder if the Orioles could package a outfielder and a couple pitchers for a big bat?

Adam Dunn.... It's a no brainer. Keep Like Scott at "DH" and say thanks to to "Wiggy" for the 2 years as a O and good luck...I also have the feeling that all are staters will remain on the team !

Now that Showalter is in town, the days of signing Cub rejects is over. Paul Konerko is the only option at 1B. His on base percentage is the only one that fills the Os needs. His OBP and power will fill a lot of voids.

Derrick Lee - he is historically the better defender at 1b than the others (see fangraphs) and he will be affordable and may actually want to come here - consider it done. It gives the Orioles another season to evaluate mahoney to see if he is a possible long-term long cost solution at first base.

That article sickened me. This sounds like the same old MacPhail, and I'm wondering who is going to hold him accountable for the promises he made to fans to score a top free agent after the first few years of rebuilding is out of the way.

No Oriole fan wants someone who "still has some pop in his bat" at 35 to be our big free agent signing. We want a power hitter on the up side of his career that this lineup can be built around. Lee would be exactly the kind of acquisition MacPhail has limited himself to while here in Baltimore- someone who nobody else is willing to pay for who MacPhail thinks has "upside" potential. He thinks he is smarter than everyone else, but what have we ended up with due to MacPhail's executive genius: Garrett Atkins was going to be our power bat in 2010, Michael Gonzalez our closer.

MacPhail seems to think of this like buying a junk bond- it's riskier but cheaper and if one of them pays off it'll be a hit (and prove how smart he is in the process). What he doesn't consider is that moves like this 1) block a roster spot, 2) take money that could be better-spent elsewhere, 3) send a message to players, fans, and potential free agent signings that the Os are always going to be a mediocre team run on the cheap, 4) and cost the team losses (and subsequent declines in player and fan morale) while we're figuring out whether MacPhail's bet is going to pay off or not.

I am irate that the Sun has accepted MacPhail's version of the Orioles' options. Who says we can't go after one of the top free agents? Why not spend the money for a proven star rather than signing ten lesser players to an equivalent value, none of whom pan out? Making a strong play for a free agent (i.e., not what we did with Teixiera) would show players and fans that the front office is standing behind its commitment, while also driving up the price if someone else signs him.

The Orioles finished the year strong with a proven manager (finally!) and have some good young talent coming into their own. They play in a great stadium in a great baseball town, in the highest-profile division in professional sports. And let's not forget that this team has money to spend! These aren't the Pirates or Rays, struggling to make ends meet- this is the team that has a cushy deal on its stadium from the state, majority ownership of MASN and all the revenues thereof, and a solid profit margin even in the recent years of awful, awful product on the field.

The Orioles are NOT off the hook from making a play for a big free agent just because they aren't the Yankees, and shame on any sportswriter who allows MacPhail to continue to promote this farce without pointing out his BS.

Let's look at the Yankees, for instance. They already have nearly $100M in annual salary locked up long-term in Sabathia, AJ Burnett, A-Rod and Teixeira. Jeter is up for a new contract, and there's no way NY fails to give "Mr. Yankee" one more big payday despite being 36 and having his worst season ever. Rivera is also afree agent. The Orioles have less than $50M in salary locked up on their ENTIRE TEAM. Given all of this, why is it unreasonable to think that the Orioles can't make a play for ONE top pitcher or hitter? Why does MacPhail insist that we resign ourselves to not being in the market for these types of "game-changers." Forget MacPhail's assertion that being "bold" in the free agent market is a "code word for stupid" (a telling indication of his biases)- the only thing stupid about this state of affairs is the fact that MacPhail is about to blow a unique window (lots of young talent on cheap contracts) as well as a lot of fan goodwill but continuing to play things on the cheap.

Orioles fans DESERVE a real free agent splash and we should demand no less. Keep your Derek Lee, we want a star this city can rally around.

If the plan is to get a slugger on the upside of his career, a trade will be necessary... for Fielder or AGon(less likely of the two) ... and that will cost a lot. But it might be worth it. Konerko and Lee don't offer a lot more offense than Scott provided though Lee does offer better defense. Both are on the downside of their careers. If the Orioles get a left-handed hitter, they will be moving too far to the left (didn't work for Obama), meaning Pie will have to be dealt. Victor Martinez is the best option -- younger, could split catching with Wieters (maybe teach Wieters to play first... considered the easiest fielding position... so they could share the two positions). And hey, I thought we already settled the third base deal... haven't we landed David Wright yet?

I would say that of the FA class, V Martinez would be the best 1B option. He is still young, switch hitter, and is a consistent .300 hitter when healthy. Plus, a good flexible option at catcher when needed. On top of that, it pry's him away from 'Sox.

I really hope we do not pursue Lee, Konerko, or Beltre. Lee is older and numbers are declining. Both Konerko and Beltre are too inconsisent, and seem to thrive in contract years, then regress.

And if there was some miracle that we were able to snag Cliff Lee w/PA opening the wallet, that would be real sweet. Although, his injuries do concern me a bit.

Another scenario I would still hope for- if we can't get Martinez- is pull off a trade for Adrian Gonzalez, or perhaps Prince Fielder.

Gonna be an interesting, and I do think fun off-season!

Cliff Lee - The other FAs don't fit our needs as much as Cliff Lee. Lee is still young enough where we will get good return on a 4 to 5 year deal which is probably what he will be looking for. Cliff also has a history with Orioles Joe Jordan who signed him in 2000 when he was with the expos. Cliff is from a small town and doesn't seem to follow the almighty dollar to large market teams having played in Cleveland, Philly, Seattle and Texas. He is a #1 who fits well with a pitching staff thats primarily right-handed besides Matusz. The most attractive free agent 1Bs are left handed power hitters except for Konerko who already turned us down in 2005 and is old. The Os have plenty of LH hitters they need a RH power bat who hits lefties. Most of the right handed hitters and switch hitters we currently have all hit righties better then lefties. Beltre fits the bill but will be looking for a long term deal for huge money but as Seattle will tell you his hitting suffers once he is garenteed big money. He plays better when he needs a new contract. The Glove is always good, but he would also block Josh Bell. There are questions about all the other players available. Will he come here? Does he fit? Does he make us better? What do we do with Bell? But Cliff Lee fits. We need to blow his doors off with an offer he can't refuse!

Here we go again. I love to hear how the fans could run the O's better than a GM with Andy's track record (or any GM for that matter). No GM can sign players that are not willing to play here. No GM can complete unrealistic trades with teams too smart to trade one of their best players for one of our worst. I keep hearing how Andy only signs free agents that are nearing the ends of their careers. Did you ever think that he has to work within a budget assigned to him from above? Did you ever think that sometimes, the player or players you really need are unavailable? Did you ever think that some players won't sign to play here at virtually any price? A GM's job is to put together the best 25 man squad from the players available. Sometimes this requires that a team take a chance on player because something better just isn't available. This team needs stability. It does need to switch GM's and managers evertime a portion of the fan base thinks it can do a better job.

All the likely corner infield FAs have been considered, so I'd like to point out a free-agent starting pitcher that no one seems to have considered yet.

Brandon Webb.

Signing Webb right now for 2 years and some decent money would easily appeal to MacPhail as a low-risk, high-reward deal.
Slot him in at the end of the rotation on opening day; if he works out, you've got a Cy Young winner and talented pitcher on the staff. If not, the O's have Zach Britton waiting in the wings to pick up the slack as one possible replacement.

Definitely worth considering in my opinion.

I don't think the O's sign any big free agents this year. Why? History has shown that they are not going to spend the money. Why would they now?

Since Buck has taken over, the young pitchers have finally shown what they are capable of doing. Matusz, Bergensen, Arrieta, Tillman, and Guthrie should do just fine on their own. Then, you also have Britton, who is on the cusp of making the roster. I don't see why we would sign an ace when we have 6 pitchers capable of delivering, assuming they continue where they left off.

Sure, the corners are still a weakness. However, we still have Bell, Snyder, Mahoney, and Waring who might get the chance to take those positions. Does it make sense to overpay on corner position players when the farm MIGHT be able to deliver it to you? I don't think so.

As much as it hurts to say this, I think we need to give these players one more year to develop and see what happens with a full season under Buck. If the right player comes along for the right price, then go for it. But don't get upset if we don't sign anyone significant. If the O's can start the season where they left off, they could compete. Then, you will know what you really have and future FA's will see that we are in the right direction.

I think the O's will make a strong playt for Paul Konerko. He seems like a guy who would relish the challenge of being a difference maker.

Good thing this is just a sports bar and reading comprehension is not a requirement. The question wasn't which free agent would you most want to sign, it's which one is most likely to be signed.

Remember that key word - free agent. I guess that's two words. That means they are "free" to sign where they want. So it's not just a matter of "going hard after" someone. If the Orioles offer Beltre a 5 year $100M contract he is still free to turn it down and accept a lower offer from the Red Sox. Not saying he would or wouldn't, but the amount that the Orioles would have to pay him would likely be so far beyond what he is worth that it is unlikely he signs with the Orioles. My bet is the Angels, but we'll see.

Speaking of free agents, Ed, you do realize that Millwood is a free agent as of the end of the season and the Orioles can't "package" him for anything?

Andrew - go check the MacPhail quote on bold and stupid. Here is the actual quote from Zriebec's article: "Bold can't be a code word for stupid, and bold can't be a code word for giving up the future to get through next year. We certainly will do our homework, and we'll be as aggressive as we can." He also said he wasn't ruling anything out. Taken at face value, that means he will explore a variety of options, trades and free agents, that can improve the club. The ones that make economic sense both for the short term and long term he will try to make happen.

The Sun has "accepted MacPhail's version"? No, they have reported it. It's up to you to decide whether to accept it. You know, just like Fox News, "we report, you decide." Connolly and Zriebec are reporters who report the facts, not columnists who offer their opinions on things. That isn't to say they don't provide their opinions on the blogs or in situations where it is warranted but an interview with the VP of Baseball Operations is not an opinion piece. Give Zriebec credit for asking the question that prompted MacPhail to give the bold/stupid quote. It was not a puff piece by any stretch.

Dan, gimme a Yuengling, please. This soapbox stuff makes me thirsty.

Obviously I need to learn to spell "Zrebiec". No wonder I usually just refer to him as "Z-man".

please
no brandon inge
if brandon inge is our 'big' signing, then i'm taking up knitting

If Derrick Lee turns out to be the big free agent signing this year it will destroy any hope that was built up the last two months. Seriously, Derrick Lee? Free agency hasn't even started and I'm already sick to my stomach. Let's hope Buck can fix the front office here too

DAN MY first choice would be Lee and Konerko, or Beltre. BUT realistically expect Pena or Lee.. Perhaps trade package including Tillman for Fielder or reynolds.. My prediction not choice is 1B Pena or LEE..

Dan,
I like Lance Berkman but I think the Yankees or the Astros will re-sign him. The free agency list won't be complete until 3 days after the World series ends. Based on what the list is rght now, I think the Orioles will most likely make a trade to obtain a cleanup hitter who they can retain for a couple years.

Looking at the list, the ones I'd want will not come here right now, and I'd rather not spend big $$$ on another Garrett Atkins. (Nothing against him personally -- I'm sure he was a good teammate and tried his best.)

Maybe I'm stuck in the past, but I think our only hope -- if we want some legitimate power at first or third right now -- is to trade one of our young starting pitchers. That is the one area where we seem to have an abundance of legitimate prospects. Hopefully, the FO and scouts can guess correctly and make the right move -- like trading Rich Coggins, not Al Bumbry, for Ken Singleton many, many years ago. (Yes, I know there were other players involved in that trade, but I still think it helps to make my point.)

Anyway, in my opinion, that's the only way we'll be able to get the power necessary to compete -- and to give our remaining starting pitchers a chance to win some games against the big boys.

Thank you...

Jayson Werth would be be a perfect addition to the team. But he would have to play left field or first base.

The logical people to go after would be Martinez, Konerko, or Dunn since all 3 are still quite productive and would help out our lineup immensely. The reality of it though is we'll wind up with either Pena, Beltre, or Lee since the O's always wind up with players after their prime.
Lee wanted to go to Atlanta and will probably stay there and Beltre wants to stay in Boston where the Fenway effect makes him look better than he actually is. That leaves us with Pena who didn't crack the Mendoza line and yet still hit 25+ HRs and drove in a bunch of RBIs. We'll sign him and he'll probably be about as good for us as Atkins was. Yay.

Lee did battle all kinds of nagging injuries this year, we must keep that in mind.

I've read that the Dodgers may make James Loney available.

I think Reimold should pick up his first baseman's mitt just in case he is needed there next year.

We also can't forget how many starting pitchers are usually needed each year. If the top five are Guthrie through Tillman, there's not much in reserve: Britton, Patton and an out-of-options Vandenhurk (unless Hernandez and Berken are considered). We need Cliff Lee, but won't get him obviously. I would be interested in Webb and Bedard as possible reclamation projects and I hope McPhail can stock AAA with some Vandenhurk-type guys with upside.

Ryan Berry will be along soon I bet.

Martinez or Lee. They get neither. I think the O's save a little bit of money and get Jorge Cantu. He's got a bit of a bat and he can play 1b or 3b.

Why not consider a DH type and force Luke Scott to first base? David Ortiz has ties to Crowley and I think it's possible...not necessarily what I'd want but might happen. I'd pay for Werth or Crawford since they have no impact bat in the outfield in the system. I'd also look at Beltre and then a DH on a one year deal. I'd take Lee on a reasonable 2 year deal as well. Wiggington could also fill one of the holes at the corner if they get two impact players out of this. I'd also buy Reimold a first basemen's glove. Werth and Crawford are two of the better players in the game and we should aim high.

Dan,

O's get D. Lee...which is fine enough.

Rather have V. Mart.

Want V. Mart & Cliff Lee. Thus killing the Sox and Yankees (who need pitching badly) with...well, 2 stones. They're former Team Mates, and Lee is kinda what a top-side Matusz could be and Victor to Wieters. It's like Cloning...but into the future...

Chris P,

I love the Webb idea. If Chin Ming Wang got a 2 year from the Nats, maybe Webb would do that. I'd go 3 years, 4th year club option in Webb's case, and as a ground ball pitcher a welcome change for a starter. I love it. Add Webb with V-Mart and C. Lee = buying season tickets.

Too top it off, I wonder what Pablo Sandabol would cost in a trade...maybe a Riemold? Fans have grown tired of Panda. Switch hitting 3B, and in a shorter Yard in Camden. Better "project" than Atkins. If Crow could work Pie in better shape, time for mess of a swing.

Most likely to sign...derek lee unfortunately

most want to sign...vmart or werth.

Im glad half the people here arent running the team. Im surprised no one has suggested the stupid ideas of think they could trade reimold pie and tilman for fielder hahah

WE had a good first baseman in Huff but some fans couldn;t wait to chase him out of town., If they had resigned him last year first base would have been solved until the younger guys coming up would be ready

I just want to second some of Andrew's sentiments on this article - no offense to you either, Dan. But if we (O's fans) are to expect more acquisitions like Garrett Atkins (albeit D Lee) than I am profoundly outraged with Andy MacPhail's plan for this club. Beltre or V. Martinez would reinvent this team; they could be contenders!

I have to admit, however, that it seems that with Buck Showalter at the helm, it is more likely that the organization will have more leverage to bring in a top-tier free-agent as long as Mr Angelos gives them the OK to spend away!

I pray that we haven't been had...

Roberts maybe ok health wise, but if he's not, the O's have a glaring hole at the top of the order. I'd say the O's have to go all in for Crawford. If Roberts is healthy it sets the O's up with a devastating 1-2 combo and moves Markakis back to his natural 3 hole. Crawford is the one guy in this market I'd say back up the Brinks Truck and start shoveling him money. Angelos needs to be prepared to roll out a deal like he did for Tejada years ago.

Why would Crawford come here? Showalter, staying in the best and most publized division in baseball, and the chance to compete with the best and lead his own team. Boston and NY, he's just another rich FA guy that took their money. Here, he'd be the guy with playoff experience to lead this roster on day one.

Why not stay in Tampa Bay? Because the O's would have to outbid them by 3-5 million a year. I'd give him the money that some wanted to throw at Holiday last winter. It will take a serious contract to sign him. And the O's should be the first team to offer it.

People that complain about Markakis's power numbers this year forget how much time he spent in the 2 hole. Crawford would make both Roberts and Markakis more productive hitters from day one.

Crawford would give the O's an upgrade at LF and enable Pie to be used either as the 4th outfielder, or resign Patterson, and use Pie as trade bait.

My personal choice would for 1b and cleanup hitter would be to make a run at trading for Cabrera from Detroit. But the idea of making a run at Werth and moving him to 1B is an interesting one to consider. I'm not sure how Werth would feel about a position change or returning to the team that he was a minor legue farmhand for so many years ago. That could be an uphill battle to sell him on.

Victor Martinez is another interesting option, but I just can't see that the Sox are going to let him walk away to a division rival. I'm not sure that he wants to give up being considered a starting catcher either. That one could be another really tough sell.

I'd agree that Izturis is the most likely FA to be resigned. The O's could do worse then resigning Wiggington to play 3rd and keep his veteran presence in the Dugout. Once he was allowed to concentrate on 1b fulltime he played very well defensively. I see no reason that he couldn't do the same at 3rd.

Beltre is going to opt out, but how does Boston not sign him? So that's not a real option in my book. Because after the year he had he's going to demand a huge deal. Looking at his declining numbers before he went to Boston, forking out a big deal to Beltre could be a mistake.

Dunn is a professional masher, I watched him as often as I could this year. The guy can hit a fastball a long way. Putting him in a lineup with Crawford, Roberts, and Markakis all in front of him, he could be a very bad man. I'm still concerned about his defense, but he's got King Kong power.

He's not my first choice but he maybe the most signable choice that doesn't have a mid 30's birthday creeping up on him. I can't imagine the NAT's go all in to resign him, it will take a big deal, but not a monster deal. In the end it could be the most doable option.

Let's go with two, Ty Wiggington and some old over the hill has-been firstbasemen who will be both available and cheap!

Victor Martinez would be my choice, he switch-hits and could bat third. I would also sign Adam Dunn to DH and you just got your 3 and 4 hitters.

The first scenerio is more likely, think Big Papi or Jim Thome!

I am going to go out on the proverbial "limb" and hope the Birds land there as well!!!

You heard it here first...

Jayson Werth-5yr/90m
Brandon Inge-2yr/10m+
Carlos Pena 1yr/4m+incentives

Re-Sign Wiggy, Izturis and hope Bartlett is non-tendered by Rays...3yr/21m

Line-Up
2b-Roberts
Rf-Markakis/Pie
Lf-Werth/Pie
Dh-Scott/Wiggy
Cf-Jones/Pie
1b-Pena/Scott/Wiggy
C-Weiters/Tatum
3b-Inge/Wiggy
Ss-Bartlett/Izturis

Sign
Westbrook-3yr/20m
R.Lopez-1yr/2m+incentives

SP
Guthrie
Matusz
Westbrook
Arrietta
Lopez

RP
Britton
Berken
Tillman
Albers
Johnson
Gonzales
Uehera

Payroll around 85-90m? [not good at math...lol]

Our Birds can FLY once again!!!

GO O's!

I'd like to see the Orioles sign Adam Dunn. He is still young (30), and he would only be 34 at the end of a 4-year contract. He's a big guy who doesn't seem to be injury-prone, and he hit 38 HR or more for seven straight seasons, including five 40+ HR seasons.

As a lefty in Camden Yards, he could hit 60+ HR with O's.

Seems like he is pretty well-liked in DC, and I think they are going to do their best to keep him. Still, it would be nice to the Orioles pursue him.

Given recent history I'm leaning towards Garret Atkins. If he's too expensive, I think the team my look to squeeze a productive year out of Rickey Henderson or Jose Canseco. Palmeiro may also be a consideration at first, and while we're thinking about former Cubs, could they ask to see if Ryan Sandberg would mind switching to short to fill in the gap Izturis is leaving?

Dan -- I have no interest in predictting, which is all guesswork, but I will say that one free agent hitter far outshines the others and that is Paul Konerko, the White Sox first baseman and captain, who hit .312 BA, 39 HR, 111 RBI this past season and is a sure-handed fielder, who's a four-time All-Star (most recently, 2010) and has played on winning teams virtually his entire career, including the 2005 World Champions.

In short, he's everything that the Orioles need in a first baseman and everything that Buck looks for in one. Also, Chicago probably can't afford his services any longer. Yes, he'll be more expensive than Lee, but he also hit 20 more homers, knocked in 31 more and batted 51 points higher. He's also far better than any of the other free agent power bats who have been mentioned as possible signings, such as Dunn (the only one who can match his homer total, but is vastly inferior in just about every other aspect of his game, plus he doesn't hit lefties and the O's desperately need a bat like Konerko's who feasts on southpaws) and Pena (Martinez is a good player, but shouldn't enter this discussion in any way, shape or form, simply because he isn't the power bat the O's need--his 20 HR would have placed him third on the team behind Scott and Wiggy and only one ahead of AJ).

This is really as much a no-brainer as it gets. Konerko's the difference maker the others aren't. The Orioles sign him and suddenly they have a lineup that rivals the rest of the AL East.

V-Mart resigns with Boston, no doubt. I just can't resolve to trusting Derrick Lee and Beltre would not sign here.

I think the O's best options are Cliff Lee, Brandon Webb, and Dunn. Dunn fits the money end of it and he is not as bad as a 1st baseman as what everyone thinks. He could split time at 1st with Luke and we can cut ties with Wiggy. I think the O's can get Lee, he doesn't mind the small market teams but it would take a big commitment to a pitcher (prob 15 mil a year for 6 years) which I think is worth it to secure the rotation. Webb could be had for cheaper and is a high reward player the O's like. Check out this starting rotation...

1. Lee
2. Guthrie
3. Matusz
4. Webb
5. Bergy

Sounds pretty good to me, if anyone is watching the NLDS it is clear pitching is what wins ballgames. Signing Cliff Lee may also open up the door for a guy like Dunn to be willing to sign. It all starts with Lee, make a push right away and make sure any other team that gets him has to overpay.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: I think I saw somewhere that Webb's velocity was in the low to mid 80's. I understand that he hasn't pitched in a while and he has considerable rust to work off, and arm strength to build up, but I'm not sure the AL East is the place to do it.

what for Miggy to get signed to a 1 year deal again.

A couple of things to consider:

1) The Orioles tilt very heavily to the left side of the plate - all the switch hitters hit righties better than lefties. Luke Scott and Markakis are better than most lefty hitters vs. lefty pitchers, but Scott clearly isn't as much of a threat vs. lefties as he is vs. righties.

So, I'd expect Dunn and Crawford would not be their first choices.

2) Next year's FA class will include Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder.

So: if you have to "settle" for a second-tier FA at 1B, for goodness sake, keep some flexibility for next year.

3) This year's FA class has a ton of hitter talent - Werth, Beltre, Konerko: each was in the top 10 in his league in WAR, with Crawford just outside it. Adam Dunn is a top 50 major-league hitter.

4) The Yankees are full at 1B/3B/DH for the forseeable future (assuming Montero/Posada = C/DH). It's unlikely that the Yankees will outbid the Orioles for anyone at these positions. Sure, there are other teams, but nobody moves the market like the Yankees.

Given all the above, I think it will be a really interesting offseason for the O's. And even if they come out without one of the top players, I think that would leave them in very good shape to compete for A-Gone or Prince Fielder next year, (since other teams would have tied up more payroll and roster spots.)

I think Konerko's a lock to re-sign in Chicago...if that's true, I would focus on Beltre and Dunn. I would be "in" on Werth, but expect to lose out.

BTW, Dan - does Werth harbor any ill will from the runaround he got as an O's farmhand? I seem to recall hearing he'd had a bad experience with the franchise. A shame the O's couldn't figure out that, although he'd washed out as a catcher, he was a pretty damn good hitter.

Adam Dunn is a one-dimensional player who fails to make contact more than he does anything else at the plate.

i'd rather have Wigginton or Scott at 1B than Lee, who is no threat anymore.

Konerko is not gonna leave Chicago and even if he did, he's realistically on the decline.

Martinez isn't going to sign here because he still thinks he's a frontline catcher.... which he is not.... but regardless, he won't be happy at 1B.

Pena hit below the Mendoza line this past season and we don't need another Atkins project.

The best all-around first-baseman in the major leagues right now is Adrian Gonzalez.
About a year ago, I suggested offering Adam Jones, Jim Johnson, David Hernandez, and Luke Scott to San Diego in exchange for him.
Now I would not trade Scott..... but I'd sure send them Bell and a couple of other minor league pitchers instead of Scott..... like 6 for 1.

I'd switch Pie to CF and go hard after Carl Crawford.
Next I'd go hard after Cliff Lee.
Next I'd re-sign Izturis and Uehara.

2B Roberts
LF Crawford
RF Markakis
1B A. Gonzalez
3B Wigginton
DH Scott
CF Pie
C Weiters
SS Izturis

BENCH: Andino, Patterson, Fox, Tatum

LHSP Lee
RHSP Guthrie
LHSP Matusz
RHSP Arietta
RHSP Bergesen

closer: Uehara
M. Gonzalez
Berken
Viola
VanDenHurk
Hendrickson
Patton

Whoa Bear the Birdfan, I think the entire city of St. Louis just took a collective gasp at your assertion that "The best all-around first-baseman in the major leagues right now is Adrian Gonzalez." If Pujols were a defensive liability I could understand your point, but he's more than good defensively (evidenced by his 2006 gold glove). Don’t get me wrong, Gonzalez is good and would be in the discussion, but there’s no good argument against Pujols being the best all-around first baseman in baseball.
However, having said that, Gonzalez is significantly more “gettable” through a trade, so much more appropriate for the conversation. I just wanted to make sure we weren’t going crazy here.

Well, Ben... let me ask you this:
If the Padres offered Gonzalez to St. Louis straight up for Pujols right now, what do you think the Cardinals would do ?

I think they'd scramble to sign Albert as quickly as possible so they could make that trade.

The O's should get in on the bidding for Adam Dunn. The guy lives in DC and can hit the long ball. But would not pay to much this guy cannot field plus we already got luke scott at DH and the outfield is crowded.The O's need to sign Derrick Lee to a one year contract. Reason number 1 he will not require a draft pick to sign unlike Konerko....We need all the picks we can get. He plays good defense and he can hit, he had a bad year but the guy was hurt. He can hit for power and hitting in Camden Yards will help. They should however pry Jason Bartlett away from the Rays, he is better player then Izturis and the Rays have plenty of depth and want to reduce payroll. I dont understand why the O's would try to sign Crawford or Werth???? They should just try to save money for next year when Gonzalez and fielder will be available, then make a crazy offer to them. Maybe the O's should get Melvin Mora back in a O;s uniform to play 3rd base while Bell gets more seasoning at AAA. The guy always played good defense at 3rd base and can hit for decent average. When Bell gets called up Mora can play all over the field and would be a flexible option off the bench. i say resign Jake Fox as backup catcher/Utility and keep Andino on bench as utility infielder i say Patterson also deserves to be back. Sign a Veteran starting Pitcher for around 4-5 million 1 year contract. Someone like Jon Garland or Brad Penny. I think we will be a much improved team!

Not a chance, Bear. The only reason St. Louis would consider that is maybe because Gonzalez would be cheaper, but even then I couldn't see it happening. Not only because Pujols is a better player, but also because the people of St. Louis adore him (that's based on the admittedly small sample size of my 15-20 family members that live in St. Louis).

Please explain why you think Gonzalez is better? Looking at 162 game averages, Pujols average 31 more runs, 9 more doubles, 10 more home runs, 29 more RBI, 58 fewer strike outs, 17 more walks, 47 points higher batting average, and 175 points higher OPS. Pujols has even averaged fewer errors per season. I know that's not a great measure of defensive ability, but it means something.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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