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November 15, 2010

O's sign pitcher Atkins to minor league deal, re-sign several of their own

The Orioles have signed right-handed pitcher Mitch Atkins to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training.

Atkins, 25, went 8-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 28 games (15 starts) in 2010 for Triple-A Iowa, a Chicago Cubs affiliate. He allowed 98 hits and 42 walks while striking out 76 in 106 innings.
He also made seven big league relief appearances spanning 12 innings for the Cubs over the past two seasons, compiling a 5.25 ERA.

It’s way too early to project his role with the 2011 Orioles, but he’ll most likely come to spring training and compete for a long-relief spot in the bullpen.

The Orioles have also signed several of their own minor leaguers before they became eligible for free agency. They are relievers Will Startup and Raul Rivero, catcher Adam Donachie and infielder Carlos Rojas.

Startup, a lefty, went 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA while pitching in 24 games at three affiliates (the highest being Single-A Frederick) in 2010. Rivero was 4-3 with a 3.06 ERA in 37 appearances for Frederick and Double-A Bowie. Donachie hit .197 with four homers and 23 RBIs in 83 games for Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk while Rojas batted .239 with one homer and 40 RBIs in 93 games for Bowie.

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 12:37 PM | | Comments (25)


Hey Jeff,

I know you're going to love me... but hey I wouldn't be doing my job as "The Squirrel" if I said nothing.

I see Andy Mac is at it again with signing Ex Cubs!

Anyway, here's his stats.

From 1st Blush it does look like he has a live arm. The problem is he gives up a lot of hits and his ERA stinks! Oh Wonderful, it's not as if we don't already have pitchers in the system just like this.

Look at his 2009 stats in Triple A!!!!!

Also, Andy not only seems to love signing former Cubs and players named "Atkins", but on the flipside. He doesn't seem to want to give Sandberg and Berryhill a shot to finally fill the vacant coaching positions! So, if you're reading this blog Andy Mac, why is this the case????

Jeff Z's reply: You are right. As I was writing this, I asked myself who would be the first to respond with a 'print playoff tickets' message, or a 'great, another former Cub' one. I got both real quickly and was not surprised one was from you. It's a minor league signing. They'll make about 12 or 15 of these probably.

Mr. Z--
great to see you back. You're O's coverage in Sun, and your radio work with mr. schmuck is always excellent.

any O's trade rumors? I say go with the young arms we have, but buy a big bat or 2. Dunn is my preference.

Jeff Z's reply: Rumors should start heating up this week with the start of the GM meetings. I continue to believe that the best way for the Orioles to improve significantly is to make a deal or two. I'm not enamored with the free agent market, aside from a few of the impact guys.

Start printing those World Series tickets now, Os fans.

WHY WHY WHY, must this man continue to pick up everything that the Cubs throw in the garbage? Why? Its not as if they were World Series contenders while he was over there. If he's going to take other team's garbage, at least pick a team with a .600+ winning percentage.

Does it really take a genius to figure out which free agent 1B McPhail is going to chase? If you don't know, try Derek Lee (CUBS)!! A (has been) player who's stats dropped like the Dow, and who's injuries mounted like a pile of horse manure, after the release of the Mitchell Report. Just like Garrett Atkins>

After what this team went through in 2010, you couldn't pay me as a GM to look at anything named Atkins again!!!
He gives up too many walks, but I guess that's why he gets a minor league deal.

This a simple, and not terribly meaningful signing so all this huffing and puffing is amusing. This a a 25 year guy that had decent AAA numbers last year and is just another piece of organizational depth. Andy got no credit last year for how much deeper the tank was such that Buck or no Buck, they enough healthy bodies to finish strong as opposed to the few years when they finished the year without major league ready talent. I'd be surprised if this guy pitches an inning in the bigs, but will help Norfolk remain stable, could be a throw in for a trade or replace a prospect that gets traded for a year or two. Come on folks it's the middle of November. Relax

I was going to ask if anyone was actually surprised we signed another former Cub, but it looks like several people beat me to it.

My actual question is why is a guy with the name "Startup" a reliever? I guess someone in the O's organization appreciates irony...

Maybe they could trade Will Startup for Josh Outman. What a great name for a pitcher...

Just as with TomD, I, too, wanted to beat the crowd to the punch by mentionung how we picked up someone named Atkins, and a former Cubbie to boot.

However, when I saw the AAA stats of 8-3, 3.63, I knew I had the wrong guy.

I know I'll get hammered for this, but the truth is that I'd rather see the team wait until next year to make any major moves.

The FA class is clearly dreadful this winter, and I don't trust the front offire to make a reasonable swap; I think they will give away the Yards and get a serious dose of mediocrity in return.

Fang: The Tejada deal got us Scott and the Bedard deal got us Jones and George Sherrill - and George Sherrill got us Josh Bell.

I think MacPhail has made a couple good trades and could again - but who do you give up? EVERYONE is going to want Arrieta or Matusz to make a deal.


Free agency is the only option.

And it does not have to be ARod to make the O's better. Just a consistent threat who can produce some RBIs. Look at San Fran. Our pitching is as good as theirs, except maybe the closer spot.

Sadly, I have more trust in MacPhail to make a good trade than a good FA signing....

Fang -

Past Pujols, Fielder and Gonzalez, what makes next year's free agent crop better than this year's?

Uggla and Weeks are there at second base, but with three years and $30M committed to Roberts, there's no way the O's are going after either of those two.

Reyes and Rollins at short isn't bad, especially since there's nothing on the FA market at short this year.

You've got Aramis at third, but if you think this year is "dreadful", I can't imagine what you think about him. Bautista is there too, but let's see what he does in 2011 before we name him a top free agent.

There's decent depth in the outfield with Willingham, DeJesus, Cuddyer, Kubel and Ross, but there's not a single difference maker like Crawford or Werth.

And the only starters I'd take a swing at are Buerhle and Edwin Jackson.

So, really, unless you think the Orioles are going to sign Pujols, Fielder or Gonzalez, the 2012 market isn't much different from the 2011 market. And do you seriously think the O's are going to go all in on one of those three?

Anyway... Excuses, excuses...

This FA class is "dreadful"? Sounds like an excuse to me. Adam Dunn is there. Victor Martinez is there. Adrian Beltre is there. Sign two of those three and the offense is instantly one of the better ones in the league. Heck, sign one and the offense is still monumentally better.

You don't trust the front office to make a good trade? Well, I guess that isn't an excuse, but it's proof that the front office is garbage.

Do the Cubs have anyone named "Davis" we can trade for?

TomD / not brooks -

I stand corrected. In fact, I was already corrected. I knew there were quality players among the bunch of FAs, but I skipped them as unsignable, as the Orioles still, even after all these years, seem to have only Confederate money to spend.

Consider - Werth, Crawford, Lee, Beltre. Is there a signable player in that lot? Nope. I see V-Mart and maybe Dunn as possibly signabler if we overpay.

Word is Martinez still wants to catch, and we can promise him two starts at catcher each week. Likewise, Dunn wants to play first base, and I see no reason why we cannot offer him five starts at first a week.

As for trades, once you get past the "No Way" crowd, what's left? Little to nothing, that's what's left. What's more, tradable players of modreately reasonable talent - Berken, Mickolio, Hernandez, Pie, one or two others - will certainly not bring us back what we need. And those straddling the "No Way" fence - Roberts, Scott - would probably be worth less than we think they are worth.

So there you have it. We can't - or won't - sign the right free agents. A variety of reasons likely prohibits us from wheeling and dealing.

What's left?

Jeff -- You say you distain the FA market for power bats and would rather the Orioles trade for one.

Okay, who and for whom? Unless you're willing to give up some serious big league players and minor league prospects, I don't see who you can get that's going to get much better than what's out there.

Are you prepared to give up someone like Nick Markakis, Jake Arrieta, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters or Brian Matusz? Because if you're not, then you're not going to get much in return, because one or maybe more than one of them, plus prospects, is going to be required to get an All-Star caliber hitter, such as Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder. In my opinion the price is going to be too steep to be in the O's best interest, but I'm willing to hear the other side. (Gotta say I like Paul Konerko, who still can play.)

BTW, do you know if anyone's signed Dennis Sarfate yet? I'd hate to see the O's lose him, but the way he pitched down the stretch for Norfolk would be a little surprised if some other team doesn't snatch him from the Birds.

Jeff Z's reply: Sure, I'd consider trading Arrieta, Tillman, Pie, Reimold, Snyder, Bell, Avery, Hoes, etc. I wouldn't want to trade Matusz, and I'd try to avoid moving Britton as well. Don't know where Sarfate is going, but he's not expected to be back with the Orioles. He's looking for a change of scenery and I think the Orioles are fine with that. They didn't even bring him up late in the year despite the fact that Dennis had a nice year at Triple-A. That probably says something about how they feel.


Major and minor league players are all entitled to enter free agency once they have a mninum amount of years. I guess we as fans sometimes don't appreciate the job of the front office does. I'll bet Mr. Macphail has made some offers to Orioles who are now 2011 major or minor league free agents.

But if a player wants to test the FA waters there is nothing anybody can do but let the FA market play itself out. When all is said and done this offseason, I just hope the Orioles don't end up with a impact hitter who came to Baltimore for the money only. We need an impact hitter who can help the team win more consistently.

Good minor FA signing! Major and minor league players are all entitled to enter free agency once they have a mninum amount of years. I guess we as fans sometimes don't appreciate the job that the front office does. I'll bet Mr. Macphail has made some offers to Orioles who are now 2011 major or minor league free agents.

But if a player wants to test the FA waters there is nothing anybody can do but let the FA market play itself out. When all is said and done this offseason, I just hope the Orioles don't end up with a impact hitter who came to Baltimore for the money only. We need an impact hitter who can help the team win more consistently.

Is Mark Prior still the property of the Cubs? Andy Mac could get him as our "veteran" starter to replace Millwood.

And ex-Cub Sammy Sosa could make a second O's appearance as our power bat.

Any other washed up or never was ex-Cubs Andy can sign?


I think you're wrong. We can sign some free agents. While I have no hope on ever signing Cliff Lee. I do think we can sign Werth! And if we do that, it will open up the wheeling dealing. We just need Werth! I don't want Beltre and Crawford doesn't really fit into the Orioles system. I would like to see Pie develop instead! If we get Werth I see possibilities, if we don't sign him forget about it!

The biggest problem with the Orioles is the fact that not one player has tasting winning in their whole entire career! That isn't good for business and that needs to change!

The Os have trouble scoring runs at crucial times. The Os need a player with a high OBP. 'Paul Konerko' ladies and gentlemen. 'Paul Konerko'!! He's the only FA with a great OBP. Dunn will only give the Os more of what they already have. Strikeouts with men on 2nd & 3rd.

Why do we need to keep guys like Donachie, who will never be a major league hitter, when we let guys like Scott Moore and Michael Aubrey walk?

Jeff Z's reply: Organizations need to bring in as many catchers as possible, if only to have enough guys to catch all the pitchers in spring training. A lot of these guys are just signed as minor league depth. As for Moore and Aubrey, they are minor league free agents. They can go wherever they please. And it gets to the point where some of these guys just want a change of scenery and a better opportunity to play.

Sarfate? Your kidding I hope. He's as good as gone. Too bad AM couldn't see the big picture and put him on the roster, if only to use as a trade, maybe for Reynolds in AZ.

Jeff Z's reply: Sarfate was designted for assignment at one point, meaning anybody, including the Diamondbacks could have claimed him. To think you could get Mark Reynolds for him would be quite a stretch.

andy is just up to his old way of doing things, why change now a bunch of old has been cubs. gee all of these people in love with adam dunn wow!. he does not want to play in the american league. he is a monster liability at first base. he strikes out close to 200 or more times a seasosn. there are far better free agents out there than adam dunn.

we both know that the time frame for Sarfate being dfa'd was when most rosters were being set for spring. Not many teams were making any moves then. I wasn't thinking nor did I ever say it would be a straight trade between the two. Sarfate had a nice year, I bet he would be an attractive piece in a trade since he would be under control for 2011. Oh yeah, it must be a five for one trade for a guy who is a so so 3rd baseman batted under .200 and lead the world in strikeouts.

ESPN reports the Os are going after Konerko and are very interested in Beltre. They also reported the A's have offered Beltre 5 years @ I believe $62 million.

Konerko averages 30 hrs, 101 rbis and a .274 BA over his career. Last year was a great one for him with a .312 ba, 39 hrs and over 100 rbis. He'll be 35 next year but seems to be one who stays in shape. The game has changed and players work harder to stay in shape and play toward their 40s due to the money to be made. Konerko for 4 years would probably work well if the Os paid well. He appears to be the best option for the Os.

I know there are those who think the team should wait and try for Gonzales or Feilder. While I understand that, there is a strong chance neither will be available. Also, Feilder's performance dropped significantly last year and his weight may indicate the beginning of a downward spiral.

As for Beltre, his history indicates he has a down year immediately after signing a big free agent deal. In fact his only two really big years were in the last several years were the years just before free agency. While a "normal" year for him would be a big help to the Os, do they really want to get into a bidding war for him that stars at 5 years and more than 13 million per year?

I believe the Os should sing Konerko and go hard, very hard after Werth. Of course, since erth is a right fielder, either he or Markakis would have to move to left. With Werth and Konerko in the lineup the Os could compete in the AL even if it meant signing Wigginton to play 3rd.

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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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