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January 15, 2011

MacPhail still trying to add pitching

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail was predictably coy yesterday when asked about the team’s plans for the final four weeks of the offseason.

While he said he didn’t believe anything was imminent, he acknowledged that he’s having enough discussions with teams about trades and with representatives of free agents to believe that the Orioles could still make a couple of more moves before pitchers and catchers report to the team’s new-look spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 14.

Of course, MacPhail declined to identify any of the team’s remaining targets -- and I’ve heard from other avenues not to expect anything too significant (hopefully that will prevent any Vladimir Guerrero questions) -- but he did say he’s working hard to add another left-handed reliever.

“We have different discussions going on to try to get us a little more left-handed in the bullpen,” said MacPhail, who acknowledged that the club has several offers on the table for pitching help. “We’ll just have to see how those discussions unfold.”

There are still several situational lefties available on the free-agent market, including Joe Beimel, Randy Flores, Ron Mahay, Dennys Reyes, Scott Schoeneweis and Bobby Seay. Former Orioles southpaw relievers Tim Byrdak, Bruce Chen and Mark Hendrickson are also still out there. I did not include Brian Fuentes because his asking price -- both in terms of years and price -- is out of the Orioles’ range at this point.

As for starters, I still feel the Orioles will add at least one more, if not two. One could be a veteran type who would sign a minor league deal and perhaps even start at Triple-A. The free-agent starters available include Jeremy Bonderman, Doug Davis, Justin Duchscherer, Freddy Garcia, Rodrigo Lopez, John Maine, Kevin Millwood, Brian Moehler and Nate Robertson. Yes, it’s not an impressive list, and I chose not to include Carl Pavano, who reportedly is nearing a deal to return to the Minnesota Twins, or Andy Pettitte, who will either retire or return to the New York Yankees.

The people I talk to still feel that it is more likely the Orioles will get a starter via trade. Among the starters potentially available in a deal are the Detroit Tigers’ Armando Galarraga, the Atlanta Braves’ Kenshin Kawakami, the Chicago Cubs’ Tom Gorzelanny and the Philadelphia Phillies’ Joe Blanton.

MacPhail would say only that he’s involved in multiple conversations about potential pitching acquisitions, but declined to elaborate.

“We got enough out there so you don’t know what’s going to come back and when or if anything comes back at all,” he said. “That’s the case as you get progressively close to spring training. We have a lot of different conversations going on.”

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 9:31 AM | | Comments (32)


I also read that Floyd, Carmona and Saunders were on the block. Any of them might cost Tillman as part of the trade.

Do you see them going after a bigger name like one of them, paying the price in prospects, or going for the "fringe" starter via trade? Any preference expressed as lefty vs. righty starter given the lefty bats in the AL East?

Jeff Z's reply: Back-of-the-rotation starter via trade. No preference.

Hmmm... I am not sure I understand all the Orioles' moves at this point. The Gregg thing still confuses me, as that money could have been allocated to a LH reliever or a SP, 2 larger areas of need if you ask me. Jeff Francis signed for $2 million (with $2 million more in incentives): that's the exact kind of deal the Orioles should have looked for with him. Perhaps Dushcherer or Maine would be decent flyers. I'm not sure they need innings eaters because they have several rotation possibilities, so one of those guys would be good. As for a LH reliever, well, they need one badly but I don't think they have to break the bank to get one of the guys you mentioned. Some minor trade might also be useful: I would love to see McPhail be more aggressive in that market.

Galarraga or Gorzelanny are the best bets for trade. Im not sold on Kawakami's durabiliy, which is needed in a trade. You have to get reliability.

From a free agent standpoint, Justin Duchscherer would be a huge pickup. I would have to sign him to a minor league deal because of durability.

But I think in the case of a trade, I would be looking to move Scott for a starter and some draft picks. I really think if we do make a trade we need to get a chance to load up on young talent. The Rays are going to be loaded in the minors, and the O's need to keep pace, especially since they dont get the compensation pick for any of their lost free agents. Sign a Ramirez and Thames and you have a hell of a bench/DH option. Plus you get deeper pitching wise and get a few extra picks in the process.

From the lefty/righty standpoint, I have heard some managers say they don't care about which side of the plate they favor, they just want the best guys out there.

Jeff, why are the O's so persistent in the pursuit of a lefty rather than going out and grabbing the best for that position? It just seems like some teams try to get too cute with their match ups.

Jeff Z's reply: The Orioles have added two righties to the bullpen (Gregg and Accardo) and also re-signed Koji so I wouldn't necessarily say that. But I think there is still some lingering concern with Gonzalez's health and they don't want to be left without a single situational lefty in the bullpen. Between the Red Sox with Crawford, Gonzalez and Drew, and the Yanks w/ Cano and Granderson, you have to have at least one lefty in the bullpen, don't you?


Twoo.....twoo. I would see the value of another lefty in the pen.

Jeff -

Do get the feeling that the O's are willing to trade one pitcher like a Tillman? I, for one, would be shocked if they let go of one of their young guys. And I would be even more shocked to see them trade a pitcher like Scott (now). Would his trade value be higher near the deadline (assuming the O's aren't in the hunt at that point)?

Jeff Z's reply: Yes, I think the O's would be willing to deal a young pitcher like Tillman, but it would have to be in the right deal. By no means are the O's trying to dump the guy. He's 22. That being said, if another team was willing to trade a good starter in a deal, I'm sure the Orioles would listen. I really don't understand your other question. You said a pitcher like Scott? Who are you referring to?

i can only vison andy signing some over the hill washed up left hander instead of getting someone worth their salt.


First of all, in baseball you can't trade draft picks.

Second, no one would give up much for a one year Luke Scott rental. He's a free agent at the end of the season. This is probably the one chance he'll have in his career for a big pay day and I'm sure he'll take it.

That being the case, his trade value is really not very high. Maybe to a contending team around the deadline. But even still, we probably wouldn't get much back.

As more time goes by, and the closer we get to spring traing we get, the more the return of Millwood seems to be real possibility. Kevin pitched well under Buck, and I don't think he's getting over run with other offers that include a slot in the rotation.

At the end of last year everybody thought Kevin would leave looking for a rotation slot on a contender. McPhail's went about building a contender here in Baltimore, and he's still looking for a veteran Bulldog on the mound.

When it comes to Bulldogs, isn't better to deal with one you know, instead of a new one that might not be house broken?

Yes, the O's need a LH'ed specialist, I'd still keep an eye on Fuentes, he hasn't gotten the closer offers he was hoping for, price could be coming down, and he might end up signing a one year deal too.

I'd tend to want to back up the young staff with the best pen possible. Buck's got plenty of flexibility from the right side, would love to have two versitile Lefties to turn to.

No question(get the pun?) Vlad's the best hitter still out there after Thome signed with the Twins. No Question, the O's still have the opportunity to improve the offense,but the need for a starting pitcher and a Left Hander in the pen are bigger needs at the moment.

But the closer to ST we get and Vlad's not signed, the more common sense should kick in. Vlad's looking for at bats and Buck can give them to him. Signing a veteran, with a big bat for the middle of the order without taking on a long term deal was always unquestionably part of the plan.

I'm confused why the Orioles don't see Justin Ducsherer as a desirable option. I guess there's probably a reason why he's still a free agent at this point in the offseason, but he's been very statistically solid in his years with Oakland. Does it have to do with injuries in his past?

Here's the line from

2004: 7-6 | 3.27 ERA | 96.1 IP
2005: 7-4 | 2.21 ERA | 85.2 IP
2006: 2-1 | 2.91 ERA | 55.2 IP
2007: 3-3 | 4.96 ERA | 16.1 IP
2008: 10-8 | 2.52 ERA | 141.2 IP
2009: --Did not play due to injury--
2010: 2-1 | 2.89 ERA | 28.0 IP

A guy like that would be great for our fifth man. Someone who could go out and give you a decent start, even match up against the other team's ace when the schedules line up that way, but if/when he goes down with an injury, he's still just the fifth man. With numbers like that, I don't see a reason not to offer him an incentive-laden minor league contract, even major league contract considering how good he is when he's healthy.

Jeff Z's reply: I agree with you about Duchscherer, but he has started just five games since 2008 as a result of injuries and he's battled depression issues. So there are some risks there, but when he's right, he can really pitch.

A lefty for the bullpen? Should have grabbed Arthur Rhodes. Enough said.

Of the trade possibilities you mentioned the only one I'd take is Galarraga.

wouldn't the upside of signing both duchscherer and maine. yes they are both high risks with injuries but when healthy the can really be an asset. why are the orioles not considering them, especially maine as he came up through the organization.

Jeff Z's reply: I can't say for sure that they are not pursuing those two guys, Larry. Andy said he has offers out to pitchers. The warehouse is just very tight-lipped right now. I just said it is my feeling that the O's are more likely to add a starter in a trade, but not impossible it comes via a free agent signing. But both of those guys have had extensive medical issues the past two seasons and I have said many times, guys trying to rebound from significant injuries usually don't look to sign with a last place team in the A.L. East unless they don't have other options.

Trade Tillman for Galarraga, sign Ducscherer, bring Byrdak or Hendrickson back on a minor league deal would be preferable but I'm feeling the Phillies serious need for a lefthanded bat might just bring bubble butt Blanton to Baltimore and you know what, I would be cool w that too bu Scott's bat wud need to be replaced w say a Thames or Man-Ram.

Jeff Z's reply: I'm a little surprised that you'd trade Tillman for Galarraga. I think you are overrating Galarraga based on the should-have-been perfect name. Galarraga went 4-9 with a 4.50 ERA last season and has a career 4.58 ERA in 87 career big league games. I know Tillman's numbers are nowhere near that, but he's also 22 and Galarraga turned 29 today. Just my opinion, but I wouldn't make that move. I wouldn't give up much for Galarraga, perhaps a couple of mid-level prospects at most.

I think that the better solution is to get a starter via trade. In my humble opinion Joe Blanton is the better option. Talking about a lefty situational reliever I would go between Ron Mahay or Scott Schoeneweis

why dont we package luke scott for a pitcher and sign Vlad just look at Scotts numbers with men in scoring position from last year to lifetime .214 to .240 he still can not hit lefties .240 to .245. His value is as his as it is going to be and at 4.5 mil not including the raise he is going to get in arb. Vlad is more solid and dependale especially with runners on then Scott will ever be, even with no knees with a little more money

Hey Jeff Z,

I am curious about a few things.
One being, I am shocked that the A's signed Balfour. Billy Beane has been the master of the draft. In my opinion, Beane usually trades guys like Balfour not sign them to a 3 yr deal when they are in their 30's. Does anyone know why Billy did this?
Also, I would not sign any of those lefthanders that you mentioned, they are either too old or ineffective! MacPhail, should have considered Capuano or Tankersley. Now the Mets have them both! Also, Jeff you weren't real clear in the article, are the Orioles going to surprise us by trading for a true number one starter? Or just go for some warm bodies i.e. John Maine. Because if they are trying for the latter. I would just keep what we have. Lastly, Sizemo since you blasted me the other week, I am really tempted to return the favor, but since I went to "Mass" tonight I am going to be nice and turn the other cheek. However, I will say this why would we want to help the Tigers? Tillman is a nice young arm. Also, he was effective against the Tigers & Rangers. Totally ineffective against the Giants and Rays. If it were up to me I would keep him, but it seems like everyone has the itches to trade him. Also, if we were to trade for Galarraga I would give VandenHurk in return not Tillman. Oh one other thing, even though the Royals picked up Jeff Francis. One of the KC writers called their starting rotation "putrid". If we did trade Tillman to KC Jeff, is there anything that is worth getting in return? Thanks ahead of time.

Jeff Z's reply: Squirrel, you've been championing several Royals for weeks. you know exactly what they have. Can't answer that question about Beane. I have enough problems trying to figure out what Andy MacPhail is up to where I cannot concern myself with Billy Beane. I did read Moneyball though. I've also said several times that I'd be shocked if they land a No.1 starter. Those guys aren't usually available in trades on Jan.15. I'd suspect a veteran back of the rotation guy, but I'd love to be surprised.

I wouldn't even consider trading Tillman. For Galaraga? R u nuts? Because he threw a perfect game? That's about all He's accomplished. I think they need to stick with what they got as far as their starters go. Let the kids pitch. Buck needs to figure out which of these young kids has the talent and mentality to pitch in the bigs.

Now I do agree with the Guy who said trade Scott, then sign Vlad. Scott's numbers look better than they really are because he goes on those couple of week long tears where he hits 5-6 home runs per week. Other than that, he's pretty mediocre. I'd take Vladimir 's 30 home runs/100 RBI's for one year over Scott's stats.

The O's should consider trading with the Cubs for a change...Tom Gorzellany is a solid innings eater..

All winter you have been predicting a trade for a pitcher. I know you are just speculating, but I just don't understand the thinking. None of the trade candidates are meaningfully better than the remaining FA's, so why give up anyone, especially a young pitcher. Gallaraga? He'll never be a full time starter again and Blanton will be a repeat of Eaton in the AL east.

I'd sign Millwood to a ML deal and Maine to a minor league deal and then add Hendrickson or Beimel and head to spring training. Any one they'd get instead of Millwood might add 2 or 3 wins at best and that's just worth giving up anyone in a trade for this year.

Jeff Z's reply: Don't misunderstand, Jeff. Just because I have been predicting it doesn't mean it's something I would do. As I told that poster earlier today, I wouldn't trade Tillman for Galarraga. I wouldn't even consider that. What I do know is Buck and Andy have said several times that they really are looking to add another starter ot two. Bergesen had shoulder issues all last year and has already seen the doctors about it this spring. Arrieta is pitching with a bg bone spur in his elbow. Tillman has had a ton of problems getting big league hitters out. I think the decision makers see all these things and would just like to have a little veteran insurance, that's all.

Oh leonard, Oh typing/grammar challenged & Mad, Mad leonard. You are such a hater. Why don't you even capitalize the first letter of your own name? Just curious.

Have you been asleep all winter and not witnessed what AM has been able to accomplish or is it simply that you are completely uninformed?

Truthfully, when virtually all of the beat writers around the league have lauded him for his moves (just go on the other team's websites and witness) that's he's been able to make without hardly giving up any of the young talent we have, save for the 1 deal to Arizona, even Mad leonard has to come around, don't you?

Heck, to get a 40HR guy, you have to give up something. AM has single handedly made this team competitive again and I for one thank him very much for that. I can't wait to hear my favorite two words of the spring, "play ball!". Now, try smiling, your blood pressure might even go down.

I agree with Jeff, sign Millwood and Hendrickson. All parties are familiar with each other and making a deal would be easy.

We can alll agree that the O's are better but not yet contenders. Therefore, I would wait until the trade deadline, watch the waiver wire and hope to get what we need then.

If not, play the hand we are dealt and hope for the best.

Jeff, I totally agree the need exists for additional depth, my point is simply that since they won't contend this year anything, I'd like to see them add the depth via FA rather than subtracting any organizational depth. If they were going after a front line pitcher, I'd feel differently, but they don't have the trade pieces for that anyway. In that case, there just isn't enough upside in the trade options. Thanks for the feedback.

Sorry... I meant a player like Scott (Luke Scott)....

Implying that I think it would be foolish for them to trade him right now. I think they should gamble that he will be productive and that his trade value will be greater at the trade deadline.

I think the O's are better off at this point signing someone like Maine as a free agent rather than trading some of their pitching prospects. Also they should step up and pay for a quality lefthanded reliever rather look for a bargain.

Beane, hmmm, He waited it out until Balfour's suitors were down to about 3 teams, then he signs him to a reasonable contract, because he figures he can always flip him for a player or two, and if he walks after 2 years, chances are he gets his draft pick back. That's what Epstein's operating agenda has been up in Boston, SI had a nice little blurb on it. The important component is to take advantage of the picks by developing them into either competent major leaguers or enticing trade chips. Maybe the Os can get there someday.

John Maine can't stay healthy. If you could pitch with your brain only, he'd probably be a Hall Of Fame candidate.
But you need your arm, and shoulder, elbow, hand...he'd never pass the Os physical. The IQ test, easy.

At this point, the Os can have their pick of guys with injuries, guys other teams need to dump-and there seems little difference between those 2 groups.
No player of significance or big dollars need to be transferred from the Os to any of those teams or players.

And what is the hate storm for Tillman? what did he ever do to the Os? did he cost them a pennant or something? I mean, cmon,


Beat writers were praising macfail last winter too, notably in the NY times and SI

How'd that work out?

Thats right, macfail hasnt cracked 70 wins yet for the wretched Orioles

I am not concerned about the players McPhail has signed for this year -- I think he's done rather well -- but I am concerned about the Orioles depth. Who is there beyond the position starters and bullpen? Injuries happen. Will the Orioles have the personnel to fill those spaces adequately?


How do the O's feel about Scott? Any sense that they think he is a part of the future? Jeff, I am not dimensioning what Luke does, but I can't envision him being more than what he is now.

Would any team even trade a legit starter for Tillman? I am not giving up him, but I would find it hard to believe that he is on the radar for a lot of other clubs.

I like Galarraga. I think he is a late bloomer and needs a change of scenery similar to when Jeremy Guthrie was with Cleveland, but that's just my . 02. I think Gorzelanny would be a nice fit, but I would think the Cubs would rather trade the Big Z because of his salary. Carlos had a very good 2nd half, but that would be a risky trade, but if it worked out, he is a true # 1 starter.

veteran back of the rotation pitcher......translation:

a has been, or underachiever who never measured up to ML standards. We have (two)
#3 starters Guthrie and Matusz, (one) #4 starter Begensen, and a group of #5 starters.
What about a #1 and #2 starter???

No team wants the minor league players that McPhail is willing to offer, because there is no talent in the Orioles minor league system. Why strip and already stripped farm when there are free agents available? Those free agents also become immediate trade bait. Something McPhail does not have outside of Markakis and Roberts.

Ok, please, someone enlighten me as to why they like Gallaraga. What in his
body of work the last two years tells us that he needs a change of scenery and is ripe for improvement. I mean, of course he's ripe-he has been pretty bad.
Response from Steve Gould:
My guess is people are fixated on his perfect game that wasn't. For some fans, it might have been the first they'd seen of him, so that game would obviously stick out in their minds. And obviously a perfect game is nothing to sneeze at. But it's one game, and his career numbers certainly aren't anything to get excited about.

Galarraga, while nothing to be excited about (almost perfecto notwithstanding) is still the best of the pitchers in Jeff's "trade" section.
Kawakami has been hurt ever since he came to MLB. I think it was last year that he started 0-10 or something like that.
Gorzellany had 1/2 of a good year for Pittsburgh and has done nothing since. He would get rocked in the AL.
Blanton throws pitches that most of the guys posting on this blog could hit.
Galarraga has some upside. But I agree that trading someone like Tillman for him would be a bit much, although as I have mentioned I have zero faith in him. Someone on another blog was talking about a 95 mph fastball? I guess they must have been to one of his minor league games. The pitcher I have watched several times on TV rarely hits a number above 90.
All in all I guess it's too early to give him away for so little, but personally I doubt he'll make it.
I still think resigning Millwood is one of the better options out of what's listed above. The other free agents listed - they'd be lucky to get five wins out of any of those.

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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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