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January 3, 2011

Gregg will make a decision within two or three days

The Orioles won't have to wait much longer to find out whether they'll have reliever Kevin Gregg in their bullpen for the 2011 season.

Danny Horwits, the agent for Gregg, said this afternoon that his client's decision will come "this week, in the next couple of days."

The Orioles made the free-agent reliever, who saved 37 games for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010, a two-year offer worth between $8 million and $10 million at last month's winter meetings. Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail has been in regular contact with Horwits while Gregg has been mulling offers from a couple of clubs.

The Orioles have altered their offer since the initial one was made, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

“We’ve been going back and forth with the teams that are left in the mix for the last couple of weeks,” Horwits said. “We’ve received new counter offers, fine-tuned other offers. Now, we’re pretty much in the mode of Kevin is going to make a decision.”

Horwits declined to say which teams are involved, but all signs indicate that the Orioles are one of the finalists for Gregg’s services.

“You’d have to ask Andy, but both sides, as far as I’m concerned, still have interest [in each other],” Horwits said.

In other Orioles news, infielder Cesar Izturis, who agreed to terms with the club early last month, is expected to complete his physical exam tomorrow, while Derrek Lee is scheduled to take the following day.

Once Lee is on board, the Orioles will likely be done with significant upgrades aimed at helping their offense. That means any talk about their going after Vladimir Guerrero or Jim Thome to DH and moving Luke Scott to left field probably could be classified as wishful thinking.

If they sign Gregg, the Orioles could add an additional pitcher or two -- maybe a starter and a left-handed reliever -- but it would be on small deals, perhaps even minor league pacts with invitations to big league spring training.

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 7:36 PM | | Comments (34)


Jeff, hope you had a wonderful holiday season.

I know a lot of people in this town think the Orioles should go after Vlady or Thome but has there been any real interest shown by the Orioles and has there been, any real interest shown Vlady or Thome in coming here? And I guess we have to ask if the Simon situation will affect the Orioles plans on FA relievers.

Thanks again for the updates, looking forward to more O's news as we get closer to spring training.

Jeff Z"s reply: I think they were still looking to sign two (gregg and a lefty perhaps) more relievers before the Simon situation and I don't think that has changed much. Perhaps they try to get one more guy in on a minor league deal to get a little more depth but that's about it. As for Thome and Guerrero, they spoke to their agents but they never were involved in any serious negotiations.

Jeff, how does the legal woes of Alfredo Simon factor into the makeup of the bullpen?

I would think that - even if nothing else - it means they will need another arm, as we don't even know if he'll be available this season..

Jeff Z's reply: Assuming they sign Gregg or a comparable reliever, I looked at Simon even before this tragedy as one of three or four guys (along with VandenHurk, Patton, Viola, Rosario) competing for one final spot. I think this just means they will have a little less competition there. I still expect them to possibly sign a lefty on a minor league deal, but again, I thought that before Simon's troubles.


Do you think they will look at signing a depth guy for the bench that can offer some offense like Jorge Cantu or Willy Aybar?

Jeff Z's reply: I think they could add another position player on a minor league deal or real cheap 1-year pact. Not sure if those two guys you mentioned would settle for that.


Maybe, just maybe if the Orioles are lucky, a "Mystery Team" will swoop down on Gregg and take him from us. The Orioles fans can only hope!

Jeff, I think that offering Kevin Gregg $8-10M over two years is just not a good idea -- that money spent on a reliever would be much better spent as an investment into the draft and international scouting. Individual relievers simply don't have the kind of value to reward a multi-year commitment to. Oddly, though, part of me is hoping they sign Gregg to avoid doing something even dumber, which would be to surrender their second round pick in a deep draft this coming June in order to sign Grant Balfour, whom they've been rumored to have interest in. Giving up a draft pick for a reliever is, of course, insane (in most cases).

As you can see, my trust in the front office is sky high...

I keep holding out hope they will trade Pie for a starter, move Luke to LF and add Thome or Vlad. Luke is just as good defensively if not better than Pie and he is much more durable.

Probably won't happen but I can dream.

Is Pavano still available/an option/

Jeff Z's reply: Yes but O's aren't bidding on him at this point.

My feeling exactly, Squirrel, about Gregg. Toronto was truly happy to see him go, as apparently are many other teams. I don't get the O's fascination with this guy, especially considering the money being discussed. You would think we could get Fuentes, from what we hear, for the same money. Would someone please just look up Gregg's numbers over the last 5 years...very consistently mediocre. This smacks of FULLPACK all over again! What's up with that? And don't tell me he has "closer" experience. That gets real old. He has questionable and not very reliable closer experience. He's certainly not better than Koji. Jeff, please weigh in here.


Would you say that the team's most pressing need at this point is one more (at least half decent) starter? If so, why spend the last free agent splurge on a reliever, especially a somewhat questionable one? I don't understand the logic.

I disagree with signing Vlad or Thome - that would only make sense if you expected to contend this year. IMO, it's better to leave a room for Reimold or Pie or whoever to get ABs. If we still need more offense, then instead of a one-dimensional DH type, why not Jorge Cantu, who can also play the infield?

Hey Jeff, any news on Grant Balfour? I read a week ago that the Orioles had "definite interest" in him even though he is a type A free agent. Any progress on him or has that ship sailed?

Jeff Z's reply: If they are turned down by Gregg and that certain is a possibility, Balfour could be a guy they turn to. But the Orioles would really prefer not giving up a draft pick to sign a reliever. They tried that last year with Michael Gonzalez and it didn't work out too well.

I also hope that Gregg turns us down. I just don't understand the fascination. He might be a useful arm, but not at the $$$ we're talking about here. A lefty is a much greater priority.

The Nationals can sign Werth to a contract worth 18 mil per season, while looking for other big name players to add, but the highest contract the Os can generate is 11 million per season to Markakis....and that was like cutting off McPhail's arm with a rusty saw.
WHY CAN'T THIS GM AT LEAST ATTEMPT TO SIGN CARL PAVANO TO A 2YEAR, $20 MILLION deal. This team needs a starter badly!!! Last place teams pay MORE!


I have two questions:

1) Ohman had a lot of success when he was here and was well liked so do you have a feeling he is the leading left handed candidate since I am assuming it would be an incentive laden deal if he makes the team?

2) Are there any whispers about which SP they will go after? I know you've talked about how pitchers that have been hurt, don't want to face the East which I agree with because they want to have a nice year and get a big paycheck the following year, but I would think that a player wants to know where he is going to play in 2011 so does someone Jeff Francis would come back into the picture since no one is beating down his door to sign him?

Jeff Z's reply: 1. I'm not to handicap it. They know Ohman and know how well he pitched at times in 2010 so that probably helps. I2. Sorry, I have nothing on a starting pitcher. I think the O's will sit back for a bit, check in on a couple of guys, but I highly doubt it will be a guy with a pretty good resume, like Francis. I doubt a guy like that would want to pitch in the AL East as well.

Why do we (writers & fans) always include money in discussions about adding players? As if the org doesn't have the money to pay free agents? As if we are the TB Rays? Why does it always have to be about expenses & saving first and talent 2nd. We all know that the Orioles org is very profitable. Nobody's that gullible. We (writers & fans) actually defend McPhail and Angelos' penny-pinching actions, as if WE (writers & fans) will get a profit sharing check if we allow the Org. to keep the payroll lower than it was in 1997 and not mention it out loud.

Writers & Fans blog about how much money will spent on FAs as if the money will be taken from their pay checks along with Federal Taxes. STOP focusing on how much money will be spent on Gregg's contract. Angelos can afford his salary and a whole lot more.....STOP falling into their way of thinking. They are the ones who keep the profits, not you. You keep the losing team.

Why overpay another average overpriced reliever like Kevin Gregg?....been there, done that....with our promising young staff, improved infield defense and vastly more potent lineup, the 2011 O's are primed to make some noise. MacPhail should come out of nowhere and just bid over the top for Rafael Soriano. He's young and he's legitimately one of the best closers in baseball. Plus we would save a lot of money because Koji's contract is so incentive-based. This would give us one of the best bullpens in baseball, to say nothing about giving the Yanks and Red Sox something to really concern themselves with in Baltimore....ala 2010 Padres....

Is having Thome or Vlad as DH really a wish for anyone in the Orioles organization? For that matter is having Luke Scott in LF a hope for anyone? He is a good hitter and hopefully will be very solid as the DH this year. Sure Thome and Vlad are historically better, but Scott is coming off a good year (as a DH, not as a LF or 1B) and is not on the downside of his career.

I personally do not wish for Vlad or Thome to be on the lineup in any capacity at this point.

Besides another starting pitcher, what's on your wishlist Jeff? Please don't say a new DH...

Jeff Z's reply: Obviously, it's on somebody's wish list because we have gotten several complaints about the O's failure to go the extra mile and bring in Vlad or Thome. I think the O's need another starter, but I am not a big fan of any of the available free agent starting pitching. So I'm not even sure what they could do other than to perhaps try to get one of the guys coming off injury (Young?, Francis?). Problem there is those guys don't typically want to pitch for cellar dwelling teams in the AL East.


I understand we aren't the richest team in baseball but we aren't the poorest either.

I don't quite understand the continual mentioning of the Orioles having an off-season budget and we have nearly exceeded it. We aren't trying to be Boston, New York or Philly, but when somenone says "ooooh, $10M for two years is a lot of money." Yeah, for me. Not for PA.

There is no downside to signing a bat for one year as a rental. If they pan out, great. If they don't, try again next off-season.

There is no benefit for the O's if another team in the AL picks up Vlad or Thome. We don't get to sit around and go "ooh, they overpaid for Vlad." Who cares? Seriously. Field the best team you can, every year and roll the dice. Period.

Jeff Z's reply: I think it is more about opportunity than money. They want to see if Felix Pie or Reimold develop into solid major leaguers. Let's be honest, this team isn't making the playoffs in 2011. A .500 season would be a significant achievement for this group. Everybody knows that. So do you pay Jim Thome or Guerrero for one-year to serve as your DH and probably help you win a couple of more games than you would without them or do you let one of the guys who may or may not be part of the core of the next good Orioles team play everyday? I think that's more the conversation rather than the payroll.

Scott has a manly bat but a girly arm and doesn't cover enough ground to play left. Agree, O's need (besides Gregg) a lefty reliever and starter/long reliever, plus a couple more minor/ major relievers (with Simon's problems and six other high level relievers cut or traded away in the offseason). Pitching is the most critical element to baseball, and over a marathon season you never have enough.

Hope "Don Stanhouse" or "Fullpack" Reincarnated Signs!

The Orioles are a privately-owned business and, as such, the owner has the right to spend as much as he wants to spend. Andy McPhail can only spend what he's allocated. McPhail seems to be a responsible general manager, unwilling to exceed the price he thinks certain players are worth. Is this bad? Many fans (see above) seem to think running the Orioles is like running a fantasy league team. These fans scream loudly for the Orioles to throw large sums of money at certain players and scream equally loudly when a player does not produce to the level he should based on his pay. McPhail has to balance value with anticipated production. He is careful, patient in negotiations, responsible as a general manager to both the Orioles owner and to MLB in general.


There was some talk to signing a guy like Thames, and then letting Reimold play every day at Norfolk. Does this fall under the 'not likely' category?

Also, I understand that the reality is we won't contend for a playoff spot. But signing a guy like Vlad would at least energize the fans. Sometimes a 25-man roster is more about the sales pitch than the reality.

JEff Z's reply: I haven't heard Thames' name mentioned recently. I wouldn't completely dismiss him because of that, but I haven't heard they are negotiating with his agent. Also understand about energizing the fans. Heck, I'd love to watch Guerrero hit on a nightly basis so count me among those who would like the O's to sign him. But my point was that the Orioles think it is more beneficial for their future to see if Reimold and Pie are legit major leaguers. You'd have to think 2011 could me make-or-break years in O's uniforms for Pie and Reimold and the team needs to give them a chance to play.

in 2007 before Macfail took over, payroll was at 93 million, but has been over 20m less than that every season since

With MASN's inception, we were told that the RSN would allow the Orioles to compete with the other teams that have RSN's.

Since then the Yanks have tripled our spending with Boston doubling it. With Bostons spending spree, they will be tripling our spending as well

Do you think the Orioles will ever spend the MASN money or is this just another in the litany of Angelos lies?

Remember these from Angelose?

"The Orioles intend to acquire additional players in the postseason to improve the team's offense and pitching. We intend to be competitive in the new season, and we expect our young players to be especially productive with the experience they have gained from last season

"My goal is to get the team into a competitive posture this year, and by next year to get us back, not to just within a strike of the World Series, but to the World Series itself," he said. "As long as we can maintain our present territory and television opportunities, we will have the resources to do that. "This winter was a very productive period. If we can duplicate it next winter, we should have one very formidable team going into 2005. There's more to come."

But Angelos pointed to the great unknown surrounding the Orioles' young pitching staff and said he hasn't ruled out winning the division this year.
"I'm going to tell you right now," he said, "that's not impossible."

"We'll continue building the team as we promised we would do prior to the commencement of the 2003 postseason," Angelos said. "We'll just continue the program."

"we want to be right on the heels of the Yankees and the Red Sox ... or right in their faces."

Angelos, however, said he believes the Orioles are close to being competitive in the American League East. And he said he plans to improve the club immediately.
"We have every intention of adding the necessary pieces to the nucleus we already have after the season ends," he said. "We will make sure our fans can look forward to a very exciting season."

"We are coming back strong next year," he said. "I know you have heard that tune before, but this time it will literally come true."

The past six games with the Red Sox and Yankees have exposed an irritating issue for some club officials and players. A majority of the fans who have come to the Camden Yards have supported the opposing team. Angelos said he has noticed the trend, but is not as bothered by as some of his Orioles contemporaries.
"We don't mind that," he said. "The fans who come to support their team bring their children with them. They are not a bunch of rowdies. Many bring their entire family to the ballpark, and I think that's a compliment to the game of baseball. They patronize the merchants and the local business. [u]And soon we'll get the fans back, because we'll make the necessary moves and acquisitions to compete favorably."

Asked about macfails performance (btw,never cracking 70 wins)Angelose said, "Andy is doing such a good job I don't think he needs any help from me. I'm delighted with the results he's getting."

The MASN money is rolling in, but its never getting spent on the team, thats for sure

@What about the MASN money ?

I think you're a tad negative dontcha think! The Orioles fans have always been a gentile bunch, that's why I like Baltimore. I would take Orioles fans over Rowdies any day of the week and twice on Sunday! Now with that being said, I too am upset of 13 yrs in a row of losing, but you can't blame MacPhail for everything. Some bloggers might be surprised I actually wrote that, but it's true enough. Also, I agree with Jeff Z, I am not a big fan of any of the free agent pitchers(SP). Would I love to see Mark Buehrle in an O's uniform after a trade, yes I would. Would he solve the O's need for a # 1 pitcher, yes he would! Is he a gold glover, yes he is. And according to a Dec 12 th article/blog by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe he might be available. because of it being his last yr in his contract, plus it's @ 14 million. That's why he might be available.

Lastly, I would like/love to see Vlad Guerrero in the O's line-up for 2011!
He would solidify the 3,4,5 line up for the O's. I like Luke Scott sometimes, I just don't think he should be our Clean Up hitter. I just don't. And if Vlad can hold himself together, I would like to have him, plus he's right handed as opposed to Jim Thome. We don't need anymore lefties in the Line-Up!

We don't need Gregg! Just say NO!
Ok, I might be over Balfour because of the draft pick. I wish would/could trade for Papelbon since it would be a one yr deal if we did. See if he can rebound from an off year! There I hope I am done for the day!


I know Lee's physical has not been completed, but I kind of expected some sort of statement from him or his agent..."looking forward to playing at Camden, respect Buck, like the young talent, etc.."

Has he said anything yet? Again, at this point, I'm kind of looking to be re-sold on the team. And not Accardo bobblehead night...

Jeff Z's reply: I wouldn't be too alarmed. Some agents play it by the book and don't want their players to comment until the physical is done and the deal is complete. He won't be the first guy I've covered who hasn't commented until his physical is complete.

Fox Sports reported that Gregg has agreed to sign with the O's few moments ago
can you confirm that?

Jeff Z's reply: Yes, it's pending a physical.

"The Orioles fans have always been a gentile bunch..." says The Squirrel. I guess we've come a long way from John Lowenstein, eh?

Hey Sun, let's get on the ball - Fox Sports and WTOP have reported Gregg has agreed to sign with the Birds. What's taking you so long to update your website?

@ DonM

What do you mean? John L was a little before my time to have a true appreciation for him or lack thereof. In fact from what I read about him, that's the way he wanted it. Apathy Man! Apathy LOL. If memory serves me correctly, Ken Singleton wasn't happy with the O's because he had to sit out the '83 World Series. I just don't remember anything about Lowenstein either way. Lastly, Kevin Gregg is too "School" for Cool! This Sux!... Oh well, I tried. Although I don't think Fuentes would have been the answer, he can't get Yankees out, that's a problem when they are in your division.

Jeez, Gregg. Make up your freakin' mind already. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's people who can't make a decision.


Do you think the Orioles will ever spend the MASN money or is this just another in the litany of Angelos lies?

I guess you didnt see the question among all of the angelos lies, er, i mean quotes

Jeff Z's reply: I've said several times that how much money they are spending now is more a reflection on Andy MacPhail than Peter Angelos. Andy has said several times that any time he's asked for it, Peter has made the money available. Not to mention, Peter has spent in the past. Now obviously, Peter does have some accountability in this. The fact remains that he can authorize MacPhail to do certain things. But still, I think MacPhail is very cautious when it comes to giving out big contracts.

what about MASN money?,
Great blog !!! I remember most of those quotes from Angelos. Writers and Fans seem to forget about all of those quotes and don't seem to care to hold him accountable for his comments.

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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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