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January 19, 2011

Who is backing up third? (and some minor notes)

The Colorado Rockies announced today that they had signed third baseman Joe Crede to a minor league contract.

Crede, a former All-Star who didn’t play at all in 2010 because of injury, is seemingly linked to the Orioles every offseason. Not this year, though.

With Josh Bell at Triple-A and Mark Reynolds manning third base in the big leagues, the Orioles didn’t need to dance with Crede this winter.

But it did get me thinking: Who plays third base in 2011 when Reynolds needs a day off or if he is sidelined for a few games?

The Orioles really don’t have another natural third baseman on the roster to spell Reynolds. Cesar Izturis is expected to be the club’s utility infielder, so he’d probably be the first choice. But he’s played just 47 games at third in 10 seasons, and he’s not exactly a prototypical fit there.

Jake Fox has played 31 big league games at third, including four last year, and Robert Andino has played there nine times, including six in 2010. Both are considered roster bubble guys at this time.

Then there is Brendan Harris, who has played 120 big league games in his career at third base. He’s a utility type that is comfortable on the hot corner. Harris, however, is not on the Orioles’ 40-man roster and, at this point, is probably ticketed for Triple-A Norfolk.

There’s always the possibility the Orioles sign a free-agent third baseman to a minor league deal with a spring training invite and see what happens. The best available is Jorge Cantu, who has put up some big numbers as a major league corner infielder in the past and should land a big league deal, though it is getting late in the offseason.

The rest of the available third base group includes Eric Chavez, Greg Dobbs, Pedro Feliz, Felipe Lopez and Andy LaRoche. Not a great list, but some interesting names.

Third base is definitely not a need like it was last season. And if Reynolds is out for any length of time, Bell probably would be promoted to fill that hole.

But good teams have solid contingency plans.

What’s the best plan behind Reynolds at third?

O's re-sign Gabino

According to Baseball America, the Orioles have re-signed pitcher Armando Gabino to a minor league deal. He'll likely get an invite to big league spring training. Gabino appeared in five games last year for the Orioles, allowing seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings (13.50 ERA). He was 7-0 with a 2.37 ERA at Norfolk.

Other minor signings

Here are some other players with Orioles ties who recently have signed elsewhere, according to Baseball America: infielder Freddie Bynum, a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals; outfielder Lou Montanez, a minor-league deal with the Chicago Cubs; and catcher Robby Hammock, a minor league deal with Arizona. Bynum, who played for the Orioles in 2007 and 2008, was in Japan last season.

Go to to get news on your mobile device. Text BASEBALL to 70701 for Orioles text alerts.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:19 PM | | Comments (31)


ok, sign vlad, trade scott for gio gonzo from oak

This is an interesting article Dan C.
Eric Chavez would be very exciting to add to the Orioles. The problem is if we signed Chavez and he started showing signs of his former self, you know darn well some of the Oriole fans are going to waving their arms like wacky wavy inflatable tube man to start him (Chavez) and bench Reynolds. I don't think that would be fair to Reynolds. Sure there's a DH/3b combo to consider as well, but we have Luke Scott. LF/DH is a crowded area too. Pedro Feliz on the other paw is an excellent glove. I have watched him in person and on TV. I have always been impressed with his glove, I think even Not Brooks can even agree with me here. Just not sure about what Enzo will say =P. The only thing is Pedro is 35 now and I am not sure if his range is as good as it was and the fact that his hitting can be irksome. It's disappeared in the past few years. So if the Orioles want defense, Feliz is the man for it. If the Orioles would like to gamble then try Chavez. Never really tuned in to the other players, so I can't comment on them.

You'd like to have someone who can back up at first and third. The most likely candidate for that is Fox, setting up a Fox-Izturis-Tatum-Reimold bench.

interesting question as to who might be a back up for reynolds. it would seem to me you go with brendan harris or josh bell.i would not consider izturis my first choice to back up reynolds.

kidnap Evan Longoria

To me this is obvious. Your long term answer is Josh Bell, as the club needs to know if he is the real deal anyways (actually, I am convinced he is not so I would have looked to shop him this off season, but that appears to be a moot point so long as McPhail is running things). If Reynolds is out for a few days, Jake Fox gets the first call, assuming he makes the team, which seems likely to me at this juncture. If he does not make the team, then you would have to go with whoever your utility IF is. While not ideal, since the O's have decent depth there with Andino, Izturis, Harris, I think it reasonable that one of them hits/defends well enough to fill in short term.

This is not a big deal. Earl Weaver used to play Floyd Rayford, a catcher, at third from time to time. Glove men in professional baseball are a dime a dozen and if Reynolds gets hurt or has a bad start there will be lots of options. Unfortunately, Josh Bell is not one of them. Bell is a potential DH and first base prospect, if he ever hits at the major league level.

Sign Cantu or Glaus to replace Fox on the bench. Either is an upgrade to him, except as a third string catcher. How often is that needed?

We need a backup corner IF...all ML teams do. I thought Fox filled that role for us.

Having said that, I forgot about Cantu. Strange that he would be unsigned this late in the offseason. Seems like he'd be a better bench option than Fox.

Rodent, those are interesting names, but can the club really afford to carry a one-position back up? And Reynolds has played 152, 155, and 145 games the past three years, not like he needs a ton of time off. If he plays as many games as he usually does, then Fox or Andino can fill in on a limited basis. There's always Harris or Bell in AAA. The thing that is intriguing about Feliz is that he came up as a SS and might be able to fill in if Hardy gets hurt. Otherwise, I think the options for the coveted 3B back up are on the roster already.

For what it's worth, my vote for the bench would be Andino, Fox, Reimold/Pie, and Izturis. Fox can be the back up catcher.

In an unrelated note, MLB rumors says Kevin Millwood is open to returning and the Orioles have some interest, that's according to Scott Boras. I really think Millwood is a viable option, he knows the team and he wasn't nearly as bad last year as his stats indicated. He's a hard nosed guy who will take the ball anytime and the young pitchers seemed to like working with him and learned from him. I think it's still a good fit.


If Vlad really is not available, sign cantu giving you him, Itzuris, Tatum and whoever is the fourth outfielder as your bench. Sign Millwood, his numbers will surprise everyone this year, and put Britton in the pen for this year as long relief and emergency starter

Time to get past Itzuris. Andino can back up 3b and is the 2b man if Robbie has health problems. He makes good decisions, drives in runs and has some power.Trade Itzuris and don't look back.Also, only 26, low salary and no options left. Showalter likes him!

Harris and Crede played on the same team in 2009. Crede hit .225 in 2009. Harris, occasionally backing up Crede hit .261... Harris was also clutch in the 2009 ALDS. (Crede ended up having a 3rd back surgery.) Harris also hit over .351, without any errors last spring training (2010), in an open competition with Nick Punto for the starting 3rd base job-- Nick hit just over .200 with 3 errors and won the job. Perhaps, Harris was in need of a trade? Harris is your bench man in my opinion.

I am with Lois, I think Harris is our backup at 3B.

I love Cantu from seeing him play so much in FL, but I think I would rather have a power hitting OF like Thames since we have a lot of infielders.

Reimold will not make the 25-man roster.

Clone Brooks Robinson. If we get a scraping of DNA now from the original,Brooks 2 will be ready to start at 3rd for the 2014 season. In the meantime Bell, or Cantu should be fine to back up Reynolds.

@ Bear,

I agree with you on Nolan. I don't think he will make the team out of ST.

I know a lot of folks didn't care that Corey signed with the Jays, but I would've liked to see him back in Baltimore. I like Felix and Adam, but they both have serious issues with keeping healthy all season which is why a guy like Corey is valuable because he can play CF and LF.

I was kind of hoping the O's would kick the tires on Andruw Jones, but his deal is all but done with the Yanks.

I am not sure who's out there, but I hope the O's invite another outfielder to camp for the 4th outfielder spot.

If the O's could part with a SS, they should be talking trade with the Brewers for Mat Gamel. Gamel is ready for the majors, but blocked by Casey McGehee. He bats left handed, so he can platoon with Reynolds and/or spell Derrick Lee at 1B every once in a while.

As it stands right now, I'm thinking that Fox is the backup 3B and 1B and 3rd Catcher(for those rare crazy extra inning interleague games), Izturis is backup 2B and SS and sac bunt expert/pinch runner off the bench, Reimold is backup LF and also at 1B. Tatum being the backup catcher. Harris is just insurance for a Hardy injury and remains in AAA all year unless needed. If Hardy is injured, Izzy steps up to SS and Harris becomes utility guy. Not bad.

Maybe Andino gets traded in a package for a SP, as he is out of options. I see no reason why Fox loses his job this year - very versatile player.

Jake Fox is a keeper. The guy plays first, third, outfield and catches. And he does a decent job at each position.

He also hits a home run every 20 at bats. Look it up.

Fox should be the man. Way too valuable.

(Dan, do something about this Captcha BS. It is starting to frustrate me more than a game winning A-Rod HR)

Lou Montanez to the Cubs? I wonder if they're being criticized for dealing with / signing too many ex-Orioles.

For backup, you need players who can play several positions. Fox may not be a master fielder at any position but he can play both 3B and catcher, allowing you to use Wieters as DH on occasion (to spell off his knees) and PH for Tatum without having to give up the DH slot (although, late in a game, you're not going to let a pitcher bat anyway -- note what Madden does in Tampa Bay). Andino can play a number of positions, and is a better hitter than Izturis. In emergency situations other that providing the occasional day off, In an emergency, you need only one game before calling up a replacement (but you have to make sure you have adequate replacements). Speaking of replacements, it's too soon to get rid of Bell but he should get some work at first and in the outfield in Norfolk. Just in case.

Seems like a silly thing to worry about. Izturis or Fox are competent enough to manage for a handful of games if necessary. Anything beyond that and they can summon Bell or Harris from AAA.

Like Lukes bench: Izzy, Fox, Tatum, Reimold. O's still need to add a few more reliable ML pitchers. Don't have any AAA pitchers that have much ML success that I'm aware of, including Acaardo and Vanderhurk (sp) . Isn't this where the focus needs to be?

@Mike in Columbia, I would not be opposed to bringing back Millwood, only if he was paid a fraction of the price he was paid in 2010

As for backup 3B, I'm still holding out hope for Josh Bell, give him a game here or there and let him mature so he can replace Lee when he leaves at first, or move Reynolds to first.

As much as I like the Hardy trade, I think the real question should be, who is his long term back-up?

I know, I know, Cesar is back, but the whole reason for trading for Hardy in the first place was Izturis's lack of offense. When you consider that Hardy has played 115 and 101 games the past two years, we might be back to having Izturis on a regular basis, and I don't think any of us wants that.

That's why I think Andino has to be on this team, he brings a little bit of pop, can run, and is a high energy guy. Plus, he seemd to impress the manager last year and can play third. He'll probably strap on the gear and fill in at C if you ask him.

In this day and age, with piching staffs the way they are, you have to make the best possible use of your four man bench and I think Andino gives them the best opportunity to do that. So does Fox, I think he has to be considered out right for back up catcher, not just a third string.

He does a good job, and even if he's in the lineup as a starter at 1B or 3B, he can still move behind the plate.

A bench can only be so deep if you carry 12 pitchers. Honestly, I wouldn't mind them carrying only 11, but it'll never happen.

If Lee and Reynolds play as much as they usually do, there's not a real need for a specific back up 3B. Even with his bad thumb, DLee made it into 148 games last year, and like someone else said, Reimold and/or Scott can back up him up. So why not make Fox the reserve C, with Izzy backing up SS and Andino, 3B, SS, and 2B, and Reimold/Pie in the OF? I see no reason why Reimold can't make this team out of spring training. Apparently his heel is completely healed, and let us not forget that he did put up nice numbers in his rookie year. Patterson and Pie are too similar, you need the RH bat to make that foursome more potent.

Who cares? If you do have to concern yourself with the 24th or 25th player right now, he's already on the team, but hopefully will never play. There is too much needed and expected of Reynolds to even broach this subject. I can't remember ever worrying about who was on the bench. Really?

All I know is my 14 month old son has the coolest Oriole name ever....Camden Brooks.

Jorge Cantu can also play 2nd if need be and played 462 games at SS in the minors although I wouldnt want him there more then 1 game in a row.He has some pop to his bat and can hit doubles.

Jake Fox too has some pop to his bat at selective times however he has played as much as Cantu. What gives Fox a nod is he can catch.If Fox is carried as the 2nd catcher over Tatum then you could carry a guy like Cantu for the 1st couple of weeks of the season but how does that pan out the rest of the 25 man roster long term in 2011?

With Chavez we have to go back to 2007 when he played 90 games to get any numbers to be positive about and too that season he got hurt. In 2006 he had 22 Home runs while hitting .241.

Dan, what is this"Captcha bs" that Dennis is talking about?

Jeff Z's reply: It's the code word or whatever you want to call it that you have to type in to be able to post. It's been a long-time complaint that our web people are aware of. Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do about it other than forward the complaints.

oh,that captcha. got it. yeah it is kinda lame. I still think getting Cantu is the best option to back up 3rd,but I like Fox and bell could always be called up for short periods.

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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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