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February 9, 2011

Orioles news and notes

The club remains in active discussions with its two remaining arbitration-eligible players, Luke Scott and Jeremy Guthrie as they draw near their respective hearing dates. I don’t sense that an agreement is imminent in either case, but the two sides are certainly working hard in an effort to avoid a hearing. If they can’t, the hearing for Scott, who asked for $6.85 million and was offered $5.7, is scheduled for Feb. 14 in Phoenix. Barring an agreement, Guthrie’s hearing will be heard two days later on Feb. 16, also in Phoenix. The Orioles No.1 starter filed for $6.5 million while the Orioles offered $5 million. Just my opinion here, but it certainly would be a positive end to a busy offseason if the Orioles were able to get these deals done before Monday’s first workout for pitchers and catchers. Guthrie is the likely Opening Day starter, while Scott will hit in the middle of the lineup and play left field every day. Having both of them in camp, happy and distraction free, would be extremely beneficial.

One guy who team officials will certainly monitor over the next two months in Sarasota is outfielder Felix Pie. The signing of Vladimir Guerrero is expected to push Scott to left field and Pie to a bench role. I’m sure the Orioles will have no issues with Pie being a little ticked off about losing his starting job. Why would any team want a young player who is content with being a reserve? However, being angry shouldn't translate into constantly sulking. When he lost his starting job to Nolan Reimold in 2009, Pie didn’t handle it well. The demotion affected his attitude, work ethic and demeanor, and prompted a major tongue lashing from Luke Scott, one of his closest friends on the team. I’ve heard that Pie acted the same way in Chicago when he was struggling or wasn’t getting at-bats. But Pie has a lot at stake here with how he handles the current situation. The 26-year-old has made some significant strides the past two seasons with his attitude, work ethic and maturity. Misunderstood by many of his teammates in his first season with the club, Pie now has a ton of support within the Orioles’ clubhouse. Even if he isn’t starting on Opening Day, he still will likely get chances to make an impact on a nightly basis, as a late-game defensive replacement, pinch runner and pinch hitter. Orioles manager Buck Showalter knows the energy Pie brings and will certainly get him some opportunities early. But Pie also has to show that he’s mature enough to handle the situation, and determined enough to do the little things that will help the Orioles win games.

The Orioles won’t have too many position battles this spring so barring a significant rash of injuries, I don’t really expect any major surprises for the Opening Day roster. However, one guy certainly worth keeping an eye on -- and rooting for if you’re a fan of comeback stories -- is non-roster spring invitee Ryan Drese. The 34-year-old starter had his best season with the Texas Rangers under manager Buck Showalter in 2004, going 14-10 with a 4.20 ERA and logging 207 2/3 innings. It’s been a steady fall since. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since making two starts for the Washington Nationals in 2006. He pitched in independent ball in 2008 and 2009. He’s had two different Tommy John surgeries, including one which was botched. And he spent this offseason, pitching in the Mexican winter league, where he went 5-3 with a 3.12 ERA and went six or more innings in five of his final seven starts. Drese, a close friend of fellow non-roster invitee David Riske, threw two bullpens this offseason for pitching coach Mark Connor before the Orioles offered him a minor league contract. He’s the longest of long shots to make the club, but it would be a pretty neat story if he had a good spring.

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 10:29 AM | | Comments (45)


Just wondering ... why, if the team and Guthrie are in Sarasota, is the hearing on Feb. 16 in Phoenix? Does Guthrie have to be there, or just his representatives? It just seems inconvenient to make people schlep to Phoenix, no?

Jeff Z's reply: Every arbitration hearing is taking place in Phoenix, league wide. And yes Guthrie will have to be there, along with his agent. One more reason to get it done.

Why are the O's nickle and diming both Scott and Guthrie yet they give 8 mill/yr to Vlad and Lee?
I know it's not my money but that's the problem when you overpay for free-agents; it throws the rest of your payroll out of whack.

i feel that Felix Pie has sooooo much potential

Jeff, any sense that the O's will work on a multi-year deal for either of these guys?

Jeff Z's reply: No, not at this point. Both Guthrie and Scott would certainly welcome it, but the Orioles appear content going with the 1-year.

Jeff, excellent point about the value of having a guy like Pie available in late innings. Also, behind Zac Britton and Tillman (who is running out of options), who is next in line to be called up. We all know a winning franchise is one that has a few guys waiting in the wings, ready to step up when a starter gets injured.

Jeff Z's reply: No question once you get past Britton, the Orioles' starting pitching options get thing. Barring any injuries, the Opening Day rotation (in no particular order) will probably be Guthrie, Bergesen, Matusz, Duchscherer and Arrieta). That would leave TIllman as the first man up and Britton as the second. If you get behind that, you're probably looking at a swingman type like VandenHurk joining the rotation or maybe a nonroster invitee like Mitch Atkins.


Arbitration hearings alternate yearly between Arizona and Florida. Next year they will be in Florida.

Jeff, is there any chance Izturis does not make this team? By my count they now have about 4 potential utility guys, so is Izzy's spot essentially guaranteed or is he going to have to duke it out with Harris, Andino, and Green? Will they keep 2 of these 4 on the 25 man?

Jeff Z's reply: Hey Justin, I wouldn't say Izturis is guaranteed a spot but he is very close to a lock. Then I think the other three utility types - Andino, Nick Green and Brendan Harris - will compete with Jake Fox for that final roster spot.

So Drese is basically the poor man's Kenny Powers.

The interesting thing about Pie is he'll probably play in more games this year than either of the last two years when he appeared in 101 and 82 games, respectively.

Reimold is the player who should be disappointed.

It's nice that there is competition for LF, the bench, BP and starting rotation. Other than Buck, the players don't really know hi staff so nobody is going to vbe given anything this spring which can only lead to positive things in my book. The guys who don't make the team will probably be 1st in line when there is an injury so a lot is at stake this year than any other year I can recall in the last 10+ years.

Jeff, other than Izzy and Tatum, do you think the bench is wide open for competition? Seems in the past, the O's bench was awful and if guys needed a rest or the team needed a pinch hitter, it was slim pickings, but it seems like this could be a productive part of the team. What do you think?

It's a big difference in this roster from last year, the battles this spring are going to be primarily for the last two or three roster spots

If Buck goes with only 4 outfielders, Pie will have a chance to be a busy guy and will be a key reserve. He's just a sprain or pull away from a stint at being an everyday player for 3 postions.

But to go with only 4 regular outfielders it would seem to me to give Fox the possible edge at B/U Catcher, since he can also play corner infield and outfield spots. I can't see the O's going with 3 catchers this spring since Wieters would seldom be DH'ing on this club.

I do know that many of the pitching staff like Tatum's game calling, and he's a good defensive catcher as well. Could come down to what Buck wants in a B/U catcher, Fox could be an interesting bat to have on the bench, and he could B/U multiple positions vs. Tatum's defense.

Then in many ways that last roster spot could comedown to a duel between Andino and Tatum. Andino, I believe has played a little outfield in the past. So Buck could carry him as a supersub to pinchhit and B/U both infield and outfield.

I'd think that Riemold would have to have a huge spring to break camp with the club. Since he has an option left and Andino and Pie don't, the field's tilted against him. I'd also assume that both Riemold and Bell get some work at first since that's a potential way to make the club in 2012.

I wouldn't be shocked to see Bell get some corner outfield work at Norfolk as well. The full year at Norfolk should do him good, I'd look for his bat to really come around in AAA. He was over his head too soon in the majors, that doesn't mean he can't make it with more seasoning.

Pie will get plenty of playing time. Aside from occasional starts in LF and late-inning appearances, he should also get a few chances to spell Jones in CF.

Is Vlad's physical still scheduled for next week? I want this thing official already!

Jeff Z's reply: Yes on next week, but exact day is still not set. Because all O's position players are due in camp a week from this Sunday, there is a possibility that he'll come in closer to that date and just take the physical like everyone else.

i would rather see pie in left field than luke scott. guthrie and scott shuld accept waht the orioles are offering. to me it looks like the orioles are not out of line.

When Scott's figures were exchanged they were for a DH. Now, that he is the starting left fielder, won't comps from other left fielders be used instead of DHs? If that's the case, the team should just give him what he asked for now.

Jeff Z's reply: Not really. It's supposed to go on what you've done in the past, not on future potential.

Interesting Dilemma: Vlad, JJ Hardy, and Mark Reynolds all wear jersey number 27. How will that play itself out?

No idea yet. I'm sure there will be some wheeling and dealing if all want the number.

I though this was an interesting article about the Starting Pitcher Rotations in the AL East.
A rotation of Matusz-Britton-Arrieta-Tillman-Bergesen could be one of the best in baseball in a couple years, but right now this isn't a strength for them.

This is the one quote I have a problem with, even though it may be true!
My problem is we don't have a few years. The time is now especially for Lee & Vlad G. They probable won't be here in a few years. I wish the Orioles could do something about this! "leonard", I gotta tell you, you are "Buck" wild! As for Pie, just work hard and let the chips fall as they may! My other big concern is, if Brian Roberts gets hurt, who in the world is going to be our leadoff hitter. On a positive note, Brian Jordan from MLB loves what the Orioles did this past offseason, and I tend to agree with him!

If Pie is healthy and playing well Buck will get him ab's.....If he is out hitting Luke he will play over scott....I don't think Buck has any loyalty to Scott....his loyalty is to winning

If Pie wants to play for Buck he won't pull that Little League mommies boy routine about not playing or he simply won't be here. No matter how much potential he shows if you become a cancer you must get cut out for the team to thrive.

One other point about the depth of pitching, I will be looking to see if the new pitching coach brings any significant changes in the workout routines and conditioning requirements for the staff. I'd love to see some spring training reports on that. i'm convinced that some programs minimize their risks with the pitchers by stressing certain drills and workouts. It is essential they stay healthy on the mound.

Random observation: I don't know why, but Pie reminds me of Joe Morgan.

Maybe it's something about the batting stance, and their frenetic herky-jerky energy and mannerisms? They're both kind of slap-hitting speedy hitters, with some power. Or maybe it's just general physique? They play different positions. If Pie played 2B it would be more dead-on. Then again they seem very different in terms of their selfishness. Morgan was extremely unselfish, and Pie might be learning to get there, but he's not there yet. That said, everytime he's been less selfish, by giving up power and moving runners over, he's flashed some very good improvement.

I'm a Pie fan. Though I want to see him perform his way into the lineup. Make it impossible for Showalter to NOT write his name on the lineup card. Make fans demand he be in there.

Pie will make the club (barring a trade) because he can play CF. It seems to me that Fox is on the bubble more than Tatum because backup is about defense and pitchers pitched better with Tatum behind the plate (4.55 ERA vs, 5.37), though neither played a lot. They weren't much good at preventing stolen bases. Tatum was 2/27 in 310.2 innings, Fox 1/6 in 65.1 innings. Andino is better than Fox defensively and isn't such a bad hitter. Now if we could only get Reimold to learn to be a catcher...

The Squirrel;

Thanks for the link. I'm not sure that I trust the writer's take on things though. He sure doesn't seem to know what he's talking about as far as Bergesen is concerned.

He attributes his higher ERA last year compared to 2009 to his low K totals "catching up to him" but with no mention at all of the injuries he was trying to fight through.

To show that his low K totals had not much to do with it at all, despite still not striking out a lot, he reeled off 10 quality starts in his last 12 to end the year every bit as impressively as the run he was on when he went on the DL in 2009.

He averaged almost 7 IP per start with 2.85 ERA, 7.5 hits and 2.5 walks per 9 IP. Impressive stuff. I think there's every reason to believe that Bergesen is a pretty competent guy when healthy.

I also disagree with his take on Arrieta. Over the last two months of the season he really started to look like he was getting a clue. He averaged 6 IP per start, had an ERA of 3,78 and reduced his walks to just 2.8 per 9 IP.

He's way out of bounds with the Jays as well. He compares them to both TBay and Boston as having the best staffs and talks about their depth, but if you look at their rostor it just isn't there.

The top three Jay pitchers, Romero, Cecil and Morrow threw 210, 172 and 145 IP respectively last year with 1 good and two so-so ERAs. After that it's Rzepczynski, Drabek, Litsch and Richmond as candidates who threw 63, 17, 47 and zero IP respectively last year. Depth? What depth?

Let the record show, that I am predicting here and now that Felix Pie will be more than just a back up outfielder in 2011. His hitting will be improved and his defense will be crisp. He will be wiser and more opportunistic. He will take at-bats not only from Luke Scott, but I believe that he will take even more from Adam Jones. Jones is not improving and has leveled off. Jones is not hungry and it shows. Pie will make life uncomfortable for Jones in 2011.

Don't count Pie as a bench player just yet. The Orioles may very well be better off him in CF than they are with Jones. Don't be surprised if Scott begins to slump that He and Jones could be fighting it out for a place in the batting order while Pie becomes a mainstay.

Just noticed on that Buck Showalter needs 84 wins to reach 1000 for his career. If he gets there this year, of course, the O's wll have a +.500 season. I will boldly predict that the Buckster will hit the 1000 mark and go a tad beyond it in 2011: say, 1005. I'll take an 89-73 record this year.

I love the depth and flexibility that the Orioles now have. The bench? Probably Pie, Fox, Izturis, and a good defensive catcher with a great arm, maybe Tatum but maybe someone better. Having IF Harris, OF Winn, and OF/1B Reimold at AAA is great, just in case of injury.

I wasn't aware of Drese being signed - having Riske and Drese in AAA is good emergency injury pitching depth.

Who gonna be in the rotation? Whos gonna be on the bench? These are good problems for Buck to have.

I'm looking forward to this season - also, the ticket price increase is now justified with Vlad being signed.

Felix Pie is an injury prone lifetime .255 hitter with 17 home runs in 800 AB's. He really hasn't shown that he deserves to play every day, and the worst thing he could do for his career is pout about not getting enough playing time. He is an adequate 4th outfielder. That's it.

Why is it presumed that Luke will start in left? Pie has a lot more upside and versatility. He can be a threat behind the plate and on bases, not to mention his defense. I say lets see what the kids got, is he, will he be an Oriole or not...

Jeff Z's reply: Scott was the Orioles' best hitter last year and team MVP.

Will somebody take a picture of Vladimir in an Orioles Jersey....please. I'm tired of looking at the Texas and California pictures.

It is a waste of money to give Scott so much money (even what the O's offered). Pay Guthrie. Leave Pie alone in Left field. He probably has the most upside on the team. Luke Scott at best hits .260 this season and hits 20 HR's. There are minor leaguers you haven't even heard of who can do that.
No offense to Luke - he seems like a good guy sometimes (regardless of political beliefs) but this is business and O's are trying to win the Division. Let Luke back up Lee at first, Vlad at DH and play outfield sparingly.

Spring Training rosters have already been released. Hardy will wear #2, Lee will wear #25, Reynolds will wear #12. Currently #27 is assigned to coach John Russell, but I'm quite certain that he will give it up to Vlad when that signing becomes official.

For those that keep mentioning Andino as a great defensive player I suggest you look at his record last year and note the 35 errors he made at AAA. That's not a great defender.

So for all you Andino fans, you better hope he finds his glove this spring if he wants to make this team.

I'll willl also say that before the year is done Reimold will be the starting left fielder and there will be a trade of Scott or Pie or both by the break.

Package Tillman and Pie and send them right now to the twins for Francesco Liriano. The Twins want to trade him right now .He won 14 games last year,210 strike-outs . go get him McPhail.

All this talk about our bench finally being good is kind of sad really. Yes the bench will be an upgrade over the prior few years, however we last had a real bench in 1997. I was just watching MASN the other day they were airing game 1. The O's had Eric Davis/BJ Surhoff, Jeff Reboulet, Geronimo Berroa (who had a good few years back then), and a few other guys.

Very interesting insight into my favorite player Pie.

As it is now, he's backing up four positions, so I think he starts a couple/ three times a week. That would be a far cry from the 15 ab's he got in June of '09 and the 18 or so he got in July that year.
And if Luke Scott is the backup first baseman, Pie ends up subbing for Derek Lee on occasion as well.

But i think the O's keep both Tatum and Fox, which allows Wieters to dh sometimes and Fox to play some first.

Buck knows its a long season. Trembley was managing for his job week to week. big difference.

Speaking of arbitration take a look at this:
In the first decision, pitcher Ross Ohlendorf defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday and was awarded a raise from $439,000 to $2,025,000 by arbitrators Steven Wolf, Fredric Horowitz and Herzog instead of the team's $1.4 million offer. Ohlendorf was 1-11 with a 4.07 ERA in 21 starts for Pittsburgh last year.
That is correct....the guy was 1 and 11 and got a raise of $1.6million.
Some crazy times we live in.

If the season starts today,
Pie, Winn, Izzy & Fox. With Vlad, Weiters won't DH & would only come out for a pinch runner in late innings, so Buck shouldn't be leary of using Fox & losing the DH

Peter Angelos, I want to say thank you and also, I have had your back. I new as soon as we put something that resembled a Major League team on the field, Peter would open up his wallet. So many people have wanted to blame Angelos but I think he has just made smart business decisions. Obviously this team hasn't been in the place they are in right now for a while. You have to grow talent threw the draft and allow it to develope and then suppliment with FA's. Angelos did spend money on the o's in the 90's when he got Palmeiro and Bonilla. He also went and got the most feared hitter in baseball in Albert Belle who unfortunately got hurt(not Peter's fault). After rebuilding again he went out and got Javy Lopez, Palmeiro, and, Tejada. The steriod scandal and lack of pitching wrecked that team so we were left rebuilding again. I don't see anyone giving credit to Angelos on these blogs so I wanted to give credit where credit is due. To overpay and waste money when you are not close is futile. I guess that is how you get to be rich enough to own a Major League team, by being smart. GO O's!

Did anyone see Scott, Markakus, and Reinhold and Jones at the Fanfest?

Reinhold was talking like he was due to be traded or sent to AAA.

The other three seemed to feel they would be starters.

Pie is so much fun to watch; fans will be pushing to see him and I think Buck will have him in there every chance he gets.

Speaking of the fanfest, Willie Randolph was extremely impressive and the other newbies were pretty good also. Getting Willie was Buck's biggest catch as far as I can see.

Jeff, They added Lee, Vlad and Reynolds relieving the need for his "awesome" bat. How about a little speed and defense in the line up? There's more upside w/Pie. I'm just saying I don't think it's a done deal. And lets be honest, Being MVP of that team isn't saying a whole lot...And I'm a die hard fan and season ticket holder.

Jeff Z's reply: I enjoy watching Pie play as much as the next guy so that wouldn't bother me. All I'm saying is Luke Scott is penciled in as their starting left fielder. That's the truth right now. Everything is subject to change.

Hey Jeff- I'm gonna be in Sarasota 2/19-2/22. How do I find out details on camp and if workouts are open to the public?

Jeff Z's reply: Workouts are open to public. We'll have more info on camp stuff on the site over the weekend.

Do you fear that all of these 1 yr deals could end up hurting the club? Do we really have enough position players ready to step in if we lose one of these guys to free agency next year?

I think they figure they'll figure that out next year. It was more about improving now and having payroll flexibility for the future.


I was watching Hot Stove last night and the panel was talking about how the steroid era impacted contracts because guys were performing better in their late 30's than in prior decades. They said they doubt that a 35 year old will get a multi year deal in free agency going forward so does this benefit the O's? I could see the O's keeping Lee and Vlad past 2011 if all goes well, but I also think the O's given what they did with Lee and Vlad, would have no issue giving big money for a 1 year deal for future free agents which allow them to lock up their own guys.

I also have one other question that you will be asked 1000 times and that's if Albert (doesn't seem like he will resign) becomes a FA and asks for 10 years/300 mil, wouldn't that cripple a franchise like the O's? I know fans will be clamoring for him, but I think it's nuts to think that Albert will be doing what he does now at the age of 42.

.........................................................................................Jeff Z's reply: Yeah Todd, I don't see the Orioles going there, not even close.

Report is that the O's and Luke have agreed on a 1 year/$6.4MM contract. If true, this is strange, given that it would be the first settlement of the offseason at *above* the midpoint of the two filed numbers.

Jeff Z's reply: Yes, my colleague Dan Connolly was the one with the report.

Hey Jeff ... Any word or rumor the Orioles are packaging Pie/Reimold and a prospect for a #2 starter?? Would Josh Johnson be on our radar screen??

Jeff Z's reply: No. I thought Josh Johnson just signed an extension with Marlins. Don't think he's available.

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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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