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December 16, 2010

Market for relief is moving fast

As the Orioles continue to negotiate with former Toronto Blue Jays closer Kevin Gregg, their relief options are thinning by the day.

In the last 24 hours, Matt Guerrier signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jesse Crain agreed to terms with the Chicago White Sox and Joel Peralta and Randy Choate did the same with the Tampa Bay Rays and Florida Marlins, respectively.

There have been also reports that Kerry Wood (Chicago Cubs), Pedro Feliciano (New York Yankees) and Bobby Jenks (Rays?) are close to signing.

If the Orioles sign Gregg, they probably will look to add one more lefty reliever and that probably would be it for their bullpen additions. If they don't land Gregg -- and I'll be honest, I was a little more optimistic about this happening at last week's winter meetings -- they'll probably turn to trying to sign either Grant Balfour or Jon Rauch.

As for adding a lefty, they still have plenty of options. Joe Beimel, Brian Fuentes, Mark Hendrickson, Ron Mahay, Will Ohman, Hideki Okajima, Arthur Rhodes and J.C. Romero are all still available.

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 11:10 AM | | Comments (31)


Okajima wud be the obvious play considering Koji.
Maybe they cud start serving Sushi alongside Boog's too!

With regard to Gregg, is the holdup about the length of the contract, money, being guaranteed the closer's role, looking for a team with a better chance to win, or something different?

Also, prior to your departure from the Winter Meetings, did you hear anything regarding a number of owners being so upset with Boston's spending spree that they were going to push for a change in the formula/methodology behind the determination of the luxury tax? ESPN mentioned this Thursday evening in it's Baseball Tonight wrap up show from Orlando. Jerry Reinsdorf was interviewed and the reporter said that the group of owners thought they could muster the number of votes needed.

Jeff Z's reply: On Gregg, I wish I had more information for you Harvey. Neither his side or the Orioles are giving much info out right now. My guess is that he would accept a two-year deal but wants a little more than the $8 to $10 million the O's are offering, but again, that's just my guess. I've heard that luxury tax thing several times, including at the winter meetings. But obviously that talk tends to accelerate after things like the Sox's signing of Crawford.

Hey Jeff,

You sound disappointed if we don't get Gregg signed. My "Take" is that I would not "Take" Gregg! In addition, you make it sound like if the Orioles went after and got Grant Balfour it would be like a trip to Green Bay in later December and I quote "On the prospect of a late-season trip to Green Bay - "Going there is like winning the 98th prize in a beauty contest with only 97 prizes."

However, you should think of the "FUN" Jeff, if the Orioles signed Grant Balfour. "The Fun!"

Ausie, Ausie, Ausie Oi, Oi, Oi, Night, every night when he pitches!

Olivia Newtown John Night for "One" night during the summer!

In addtion, Grant Balfour is a good pitcher! Give the draft choice up, Andy!

I would look forward to all that!
Come on Jeff don't be such a "Boo Bird"
Just think of "The Fun"

Lastly, here's to Andy Mac and Peter A. opening their wallets and making some sort of big splash with a big time trade!
I would look forward to that as well!

Jeff Z's reply: No, not disappointed at all. I said on WBAL the other night that I probably would rather sign five Accardo-type deals (1 year, 1.1 million) than give out a sizable contract to a reliever like Gregg. Nothing against him in particular. But my reason obviously was that relievers are so unpredictable and giving them lucrative, one-year deals is such a risky proposition. But if you sign four or five guys on Accardo-type deals, 2 or three will probably work out and two or three won't. I'd take those odds.

I would have to think signing any type-A free agent reliever is highly unlikely.

Jeff, Any movement on the 1B front? I'm a little surprised that this continues to drag on.

Jeff Z's reply: Trust me Greg, I'm not holding anything back from you guys.

Not enamored with Gregg. With Uehara signed, they could sign Dan Wheeler, or some other non-closer type, for a lot less and he or JJ (not Hardy) can pitch the 8th and the other the 7th.

Okijima might be an okay signing since he won't be facing the O's. Otherwise, I'd go with Beimel or Ohman if he is healthy. But not more than 1 year on any off them, like you said. But what do I know. Not my money to allocate.

I do know that this long wait for the next shoe to drop is killing me.

The funny thing is, Olney wrote earlier this week that the Orioles and Beltre might consider each other, with Reynolds moving to first. As more and more teams on him, Beltre might just have to open his mind and look into signing with the Orioles. Moving Reynolds to first might go against Showalter's main precept, but it would be hard to argue with the defensive upgrade, not to mention the offensive upgrade, we hope.

Maybe all these options are what is holding things up. All I know is, no one else has signed LaRoche or Lee, so who knows what's going on.

And rodent, you never cease to amaze and awe.

Arthur Rhodes???? I thought he had already signed up - with Social Security.

Jeff Z's reply: He did make the Alll-Star team last year.

I keep hoping that Gregg signs elsewhere. I'm with you Jeff, no sense spending that kind of money on a reliever. Especially one that loses the strike zone as often as Gregg. Belfor or Rauch would be just as good at a quarter the price. Just wish they'd sign LaRoche already.

I like the Wheeler suggestion above, and as others have said, I don't think signing Gregg is a do-or-die situation. I think AM understands that too, and I'm glad he's not caving to Gregg. Balfour is a good pitcher, I had the chance to see him when he was in MInnesota and he was ace. I think he'd fit in well in our bullpen.

And if none of these, I'd gladly pony up $10 to PA if it meant bringing Arthur Rhodes back!

the orioles should have had several of the prominent players they wanted signed by now. if andy wants a left handed reliever. i would suggest will olman, definatley not okajima or arthur just behoves me to no end that andy is dragging his feet. where is the sense in it. other teams are doing what needs to be done.

"Jeff Z's reply: He did make the Alll-Star team last year. "

So did Ty Wigginton...

I'm also of the opinion that multi-year deals are not good for relievers... unless they're someone you're re-signing... like Mariano or Eckersley. Obviously not Eck now, but the point is, unless they've shown a consistency over a five year period or so, multi-year reliever deals are a bad idea. Anyone remember the trio of Walker-Bradford-Baez?

Things to be slowing down since the winter meetings. How hard is it to agree to terms with Gregg? We aren't talking about Konerko here, lets get moving. If we seriously come out of free agency with a worse bullpen this will be a total wash. Our starters haven't shown they can consistenly go into late innings and with a thin bullpen, things could get much worse.

ken -

The Orioles aren't signing Beltre.

I shouldn't even have to elaborate, but first off, Beltre doesn't want to play for a loser.

And second, MacPhail and Angelos wouldn't even pony up the cash for Mark Teixeira, so what makes you think they'll offer Beltre the massive overpay it would take to get him to consider Baltimore?

Third, the Angels, who lost out on Carl Crawford, have plenty of money and they're in desperate need of a third baseman. I would say there's about an 80% chance that the Angels will have Beltre under contract by Christmas.

Do you need anything else?

Dear Jeff,

Do you think the Andy MacPhail and the Orioles organization are dragging their feet on signing a decent first baseman in attempt to save money and chase Albert Pujols next season?

Like many other bloggers, I probably come across a fantasy baseball owner by suggesting the Orioles sign Cliff Lee, Albert Pujols in 2012, and trading for Zack Greinke, or even David Price (as Joe Sheehan from SI wrote about what the Yankees should do

However, the Orioles haven't been to the playoffs in 13 seasons and their farm system doesn't seem to be grooming future stars.

Thus, the Orioles will continue to be cellar dwellers unless they begin to spend money on high quality free agents to catch the Yankees and Red Sox, the gold standard of the AL East.

Jeff Z's reply: No, I don't think that's the reason. I don't think there are too many people out there that expect St. Louis to let Pujols leave. And if he does, nobody thinks he'll come to Baltimore.

Arite O's Fans, here's what we've been waiting to hear:

Any comment Jeff? Are we gonna land LaRoche???

Jeff Z's reply: Not yet. O's certainly don't think anything is imminent on that front. But he's obviously their top target.


Report on MLBTR says that the RedSox just signed Bobby Jenks for 2yr / 12M. If that's true, then the price for Gregg just came down. Jenks is superior to Gregg is this offseason's hierarchy and that should make the o's 8-10MM look pretty good. I think Gregg would make a nice set up to Koji.

One last thing, @ Sizemo, I've read before that in Boston Dice-K and Okajima never talked and pretty much disliked each other. So, just like with any people, just cause they're both Japanese doesn't mean they'll automatically like each other.

@ Ken,

I gotta be honest, I can't figure you out! Truly. So what is going to resolve this? Can I buy you a liquid refreshment or something? In fact, I am even down with lunch, I will even pay for it! We can even invite Not Brooks as well for the Pow Wow. I think we all agree that additional moves need to be done, but how the Orioles get there we all seem to disagree! To me the Orioles are quite a bit shot in competing in the AL East. While they are improved since last season, we just don't have enough Cowboys on the team to Cowboy Up! In fact, this quote from the Great Escape reminds me of the Orioles situation.

Hilts: Hold on to yourself, Bartlett. You're twenty feet short.
Bartlett: What do you mean, twenty feet short?
Hilts: You're twenty feet short of the woods. The hole is right here in open. The guard is between us and the lights.

After this exchange the Prisoners in the movie send word that they need 50 ft of rope to resolve the problem. This won't do because the tunnel was dug 30 ft deep and then there's an additional shortage of 20 ft. 50 ft of rope wouldn't have helped anything, 100 ft of rope would. To me the Orioles are about 100 ft short of the woods with only 50 ft of rope to help them! This simply won't do!

Let me Recap.
1.)The Lunch offer is good!
2.) The Fighin O's are a bit short of reaching the Forest aka The Promised Land (Playoffs).

Maybe during this lunch we can find common ground. Then present our resolutions to both Andy MacPhail and Peter Angelos and see what happens! =)
What do you think?

Jeff...I've asked before, but why is the club pursuing Gregg so hard?

As you said, 5 low risk guys like Accardo seems far better than dumping $5-6mil/season on a mediocre guy like Gregg. Heck, Accardo may even be better than Gregg.

Does Andy think this is a gesture that will build confidence in fans? Yes, we like the aggression and the opening of the wallet, but not on a player like Gregg. It's Atkins 2.0 and if Andy doesn't see that, he has no business being a baseball GM.

Jeff Z's reply: Hey Christopher, obviously we'll know a lot more about the O's feelings on Gregg when/if they sign him. They're not talking a whole lot about their targets right now. But regardless, they obviously like the guy. They like that he has closer experience. They like that he saved 37 games in the American League East. And they obviously like the fact that Gregg has a little chip on his shoulder and the confidence that he can get anybody out at any time.

It would be fun to have Arthur Rhodes end his career where it began. Always liked him.

so we have


Tell me why we need Gregg? If we are looking for a strong reliever, why not Soriano? He's unhittable - let him close, and then we have 3 solid middle guys + Accardo. Simon + Vandenhurk - mop up duty. With 5 starters, there's 12 pitchers. You could even re-sign Chris Ray and let him compete with Simon and Accardo (and JJ).

Tell Gregg this is what we are offering.Take it leave it. Quit wasting our time.Greed, Greed,and more Greed.Sign the damn contract or go on.To much crap the Orioles have to take.Enough is enough.
Curt S.S. Md.

I don't honestly expect the orioles to compete this year for the playoffs but they are on the way to getting better. IF they are better offensively by 150 runs it will be up to their starters pitching like aug, sept 2010 only all year... The talent is there and about once every 5-6 years one team will have a breakout of young talent and go to the series.. Some year it might be the orioles turn...

It's funny how so many people are forgetting about Jason Berken. A bullpen of:

Kevin Gregg
Mike Gonzalez
Koji Uehara
Jim Johnson
Jeremy Accardo
Jason Berken

Sounds pretty good.

It's starting to sound like you guys at The Sun will need to hold a candleight vigil for the bullpen, just like you did the coaching staff. Godspeed to all of you!

With regard to LaRoche, the Orioles obviously don't have that much interest. Otherwise, wouldn't they actually go out and get him? No, the O's are waiting (which they EXCEL at) for someone to swoop in and sign the guy right out from under them. And what is all this utter crap about "saving money" to sign a big gun like Pujols next year? That's laughable. First, Albert wouldn't come here and second, the O's don't spend money. Get it through your heads, O's fans, they are cellar dwellers for years and years to come. They have absolutely no interest in spending what it takes to build a contender AND their team of scouts are just awful. That's why, after 13 losing seasons and top draft picks, they still have a poor farm system. Shouldn't a scout or two be run out of town??????


I know a lot of people on the boards aren't high on Fuentes, but curious what your take is? I like him because he can close or setup.

Grant Balfour is my # 1 choice, but I am not down on Kevin Gregg, but at some point it would appear the O's have to say forget this guy and look elsewhere before no one is left! Jon Rauch is an interesting guy. He seems like Buck's type of pitcher.

Jeff z's reply: Read somewhere that Fuentes wants 3-year deal. No way I'd do that.

With all those empty seats at Camden Yard, the Orioles should rename a section called the "Sign Albert Pujols Section" with all revenue put into a fund...

The o's had one of the worst bullocks in the league last year. If they are going to spend on short term high dollar contracts, the bullpen would be a good place to start. Sure, bring in Gregg. He's got al east experience. For my lefty, sure ohman sounds like the most reasonable choice but getting rhoads back would be priceless.

Jeff Z -

I'm curious to know why the O's haven't shown any interest in Brian Fuentes? In 2010, he had an ERA+ of 147 and a 1.06 WHIP. His career stats are far more superior then Gregg's are, and I think Fuentes would be the better option. Is it due to age? Or is it because Gregg had more saves last year? If so, let me vent......

A Save is such a worthless stat that I wish they would do away with it all together. Holds tell alot more about a pitcher than a save does, and should be used more frequently to judge a pitcher. The idea that a teams Closer, or technically the bullpen Ace, can only pitch in the 9th inning is retarded. If the game is on the line in the 7th inning and the closer (the supposed best pitcher) is available then use him. And if he can't pitch more than 1 inning, great, use the next best pitcher to close out the game.

Maybe if someone could somehow weigh Holds with a leverage index and innings pitched, we could learn more about how good a certain pitcher really is. But to go after a picher in free agency just because of the amount of saves he has is ridiculous. They get paid to win anyway, not to pad their stats to liking.

And what really kills me is there are managers who refuse to use their closers in the highest leverage situations just because it isn't the 9th inning. If the game is late and close and it's the 8th inning with the heart of the order coming up, then use the best reliever or aka Closer.


Gee, appears Albers is good enough for the Red Sox and wasn't Egan the best bet of the high minor leaguers? AM messed up here and needs to get on the ball. Baseball is a marathon and you never have enough arms. JJ and Koji oft injured, Berken off major surgery. Who of any quality starter or reliever do the O's have in the high minors beyond Britteney (sp)?

Ohman would be nice to have back but then so would Rhodes.

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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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