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July 22, 2011

Trade edition of news, notes and opinions

Earlier this week, Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail met with owner Peter Angelos to discuss potential moves with the trade deadline now nine days away. I’m told that there is nothing imminent at this point, but the sense that I get from talking to people familiar with the Orioles’ plans is that they’ll make one or two moves before the deadline. Their two biggest trade chips – and this certainly isn't breaking any news - are starter Jeremy Guthrie and reliever Koji Uehara.

There is a lot of action on Uehara right now. The Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers are among the potential suitors that I have heard, but I’d have a hard time believing that any of the contending clubs couldn’t find a spot for the right-handed reliever. I think there is some concern industry-wide about Uehara’s durability and his age (36), and that’s understandable. However, his numbers are awfully hard to ignore. In 44 innings, he’s allowed nine earned runs (1.84 ERA), 23 hits and eight walks while striking out 58. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last 13 innings and he’s surrendered just three hits and two walks while striking out 19 during that span. He’s also managed to stay off the disabled list. The Orioles are certainly listening and are willing to move him, but this isn’t a salary dump situation. They want something in return. Uehara needs to appear in 15 more games to kick in his $4 million vesting option for next season. And the Orioles would welcome having Uehara on their payroll at that number in 2012 if they can’t get a decent return for him.

As for Guthrie, I think the thought process three weeks ago was to hold onto the veteran right-hander because the Orioles needed him the rest of the way to eat innings and protect some of their young arms which are faltering badly. The club didn’t feel that Guthrie would have any more value now than he would after the season or before next year’s trade deadline, where he would almost certainly be moved because he’s in the final year of his contract. I sense that the Orioles have softened a bit on that stance and if they can get a decent return for Guthrie, they’ll send him packing. I’ve seen reported or speculated a bunch of teams connected to him, including the Rangers, Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Indians. I’m not sure how serious any of their interest is and I do think it is probably a tough sell for the general manager of a potential playoff team to tell their fans that their new addition is the Major League leader in losses. However, Guthrie has solid stuff and I’m sure there are plenty of GMs that feel that he’ll flourish in a winning environment and in a less hitter-friendly ballpark away from the American League East. But make no mistake, with their lack of pitching depth, the Orioles aren’t in a position to give away a pitcher who is on track to log more than 200 innings for a third straight year. They likely are going to have to get at least one Major League-ready starter as part of the package back for him.

I’m told there is not much going on at this point between the Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies, but I think it’s worth mentioning that two of the Phillies top evaluators have been watching the Orioles during this home stand. Gordon Lakey attended the Orioles-Cleveland Indians series, while Charlie Kerfeld took in Orioles-Boston Red Sox. I would think that Uehara would fit in nicely with the Phillies and I wouldn't rule out Guthrie there either, but that’s just my speculation. was the first to report that the Tigers have interest in both Guthrie and Uehara. I can confirm that the Orioles have had scouts watching both the Tigers’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates in recent days.

The Orioles are in no position to make anybody untouchable, but there are some guys obviously unlikely to be moved. Count Jim Johnson as part of that group. There have been several clubs to express interest in Johnson, including the Rangers, but the Orioles would probably need to get an awful lot in return to prompt them moving Johnson. It’s not impossible, but I would label it unlikely at this point. Johnson is 27 years old and the Orioles still have him under contractual control for three more seasons after this one. Assuming that Johnson does OK as a starter later this season, the Orioles will likely pencil him into next season’s rotation.

This probably goes without saying, but beyond Guthrie and Uehara, I just don’t see any other Orioles being moved before the non-waiver deadline. With their contracts and their lack of production, Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero would almost certainly clear waivers so they could be traded at some point in August. Luke Scott has all but no value right now because of his injury issues and the fact that most teams see him as a DH. Outfielder Felix Pie has had a brutal year offensively and he hasn’t defended or ran the bases well so I can’t see another team having much interest in him as a potential bench player. Left-handed relief help is always in demand, but I can’t see Michael Gonzalez attracting much attention unless the Orioles ate the rest of his contract and asked for nothing in return.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 6:30 AM | | Comments (49)


I don't see Detroit as a good trade partner. They have no real impact talent at AA or AAA, similar to the O's. Jacob Turner would obviously be interesting but the Tigers aren't going to give him up and the O's obviously didn't like him that much since they drafted Hobgood over him. Andy Oliver is a left handed Jake Arrieta with way too many walks.

Texas has a deep farm system and could get rid of Chris Davis and a pitcher no problem and not feel it at all. I think Koji for Chris Davis you have to do it, one guy plays everyday, one guy pitches 65 innings a year.

Scott will be non-tendered. Can't pay a guy 8 million dollars to be a DH (hopefully this lesson was learned with Vlad) and Reimold needs to play everyday. There is a reason Tampa wanted him in the Bartlett trade, stop messing with Pie and Angle, both are 4th outfielders.

So in other words, it looks like we're stuck w/the lousy players and trading away the good ones. This has been a brutal year, the worst of all the 14 years of losing because we all had a lot of hope for this team going into this year, but they have really exposed themselves as being a bad team no where near ready to compete unfortunately.

In other words trade Koji who is performing well for a question mark. Such as sherrill bor Bell. We will be left with a weaker bullpen. The O's are never dealing from strenghth always on the come. Let's get some prospects. How's that working out? 54 years an oriole fan and I have never been more discouraged. The owner cares not about winning.

Just mentioning a trade of Pie is hilarious. Seriously if he was cut today, he would not be added to any ML roster, no doubt. He is not only terrible but clueless about his profession. Frankly I don't know why he is on the team except Andy won't let go of his prized Cubs prospect.

How many other players on this roster would have no shot at being added to another ML roster? The list is long and that's why the O's are once again awful

i understand your reasoning but i think if JJ becomes a starter and Koji is traded, we lose all chance of holding late leads in the games we could win. won't that lose more fan base?

Jeff Z's reply: You are right, and as Buck has said, moving JJ to the rotation is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. But that move wouldn't happen until some point in September, and let's be honest, how many leads are the starters taking into the late innings these days anyway? Very few.

Let's do J. Guthrie a favor, trade him to a winning team, he deserves to know how it feels, before his age catches up. He seems like a nice guy, & he deserves it. Same for Kogi, but we'd be nowhere w/o him. But wait, we're nowhere anyway, so do him a favor also.
I agree with most, fire the GM, Scouts,player development,but mostly, find a way to rid ourselves of PA.He made a statement a while back the fans just don't understand what it takes, DUH!!!!14 losing years, & he knows?????

I don't know how likely it is acquire him but I have heard the name of a young Cincinnati Red in AAA thrown around. Yonder Alonso is a 1B blocked by last year"s NL MVP. They have him in LF right now. The guy is left handed and hits .300 against right and left handed least in AAA.

I am more excited to hear about someone like him then the Detriot names that have been thrown around. I don't want to be confused with someone that over values a player. But when I read about Ryan Strieby, a young 1B in AAA of Detriot it doesn't sound that great. Former OF hitting around .259 at 1B/DH because his defense is bad. They don't need that.

Basically I am saying I know they won't get a number one starter in a trade BUT I would like to see them acquire something the Orioles don't already have. Not just another body like Rhynes Hughes or Clay Meredith. Because if you don't improve why bother trading? Maybe if Guthrie and Uehara are packaged that can bring a better haul in return.

Just my opinion.


Good points. I think the Orioles are going to do something with Koji, similar to what they did with Ohman last year. If you can trade an effective reliever for a AAA starter, who may be close to or already has major league experience then I think you have to. Same goes for Guthrie. Honestly, I wouldn't mind throwing in Pie or another player like Andino if it means getting a better haul back.

If Koji isn't moved it will simply underscore front office ineptiitude. Since this season is unlikely to require much in the way of saving, Koji would be better off in a playoff run and I'm sure he'll make an impact.

As for Guthrie, I'd love to see him traded, if only for his own salvation. Unfortunately, MLB does not allow teams to allow fans to take the mound to eat innings. Without that type of attraction, you have to be a masochist to watch what remains of the starting rotation.

Jeff, is there any word on whether Peter Angelos is now willing to trade within the AL East? For a while I agreed with that, but it can't be ignored that in order to be more competitive in the future in the division, you have to add to the O's future while subtracting from the competitors.

Jeff Z's reply: He is. Don't completely buy those reports that say that they won't trade with this team or that team. Don't get me wrong, if the Tigers and Yankees have even remotely similar offers on the table, he'd want him moved to the Tigers and not the Yankees. But they're not ruling out any teams.

I have no problem giving Gonzo away. Addition by subtraction.

So MacPhail is still in charge ? Schmuck wrote that Buck has Peter's ear & Peter Gammons recently wrote that MacPhail doesnt know which way Angelos wants him to go

To me, get while the getting is Guthrie while he has value. You never know what next year will hold. The guy is not going to be here long term, we have to deal him while we can. We need so much, we cant afford not to. Sell to the highest bidder, same with Koji

I could see Pittsburgh offering something for D-Lee. They need 1B help badly & Lee has been better as of late

If the team cannot move Lee or Vlad, they should DFA them for the good of getting younger guys ABs - Reimold, Bell, call up Snyder, move Mahoney to AAA,,,Scott needs to be shut down so he is ready for next year

Hey Jeff... No trade talk today. You've covered it nicely. But I am wondering: you get any sense on who the Orioles might be looking at for GM if MacPhail departs?? Any chance Andrew Friedman gets a look. Also: how much is Buck weighing in on this?? Will he have a big say?? Happy Friday!!

Jeff Z's reply: Thanks Steve, I figured you'd enjoy this entry. The name you hear the most is John Hart who Buck is obviously close to and has worked with before. Also, MacPhail and Hart have a real good relationship which would apply if MacPhail moves into more of a President of Business Operations or liason to the owner role (Not saying that's definitely going to happen). As for Buck, he will factor into it heavily. I could see some arrangement where they hire a guy like Hart and he and Buck work together while Buck still manages the club. Or it wouldn't shock me if Buck moves into the front office all together and they hire a new manager. There's a lot of different scenarios I've heard.

Likely no deals will happen at all, MacPhail doesn't like trading during the season ad Baltimore doesn't scout the minors well. With so many teams stuck with 1B and outfielders/DH's hitting 0.210 and lousy defence, they'd be stupid to not deal but MacPhail will ask too much. Philly wants bats big time but people assume they want more and more pitching, and MacPhail won't deal with them.

Hope to see Johnson tried out as a starter. I've been wanting to see that for awhile. Didn't we mainly leave Schilling in the bullpen too? He didn't do too bad as a starter when he left. You have to move Koji if you can get some value for him. He's done a great job but a team as weak as we are has no business holding onto a shutdown 8th inning guy if we can get a good prospect for him.

A few teams who need 1B/DH/outfield help are hoping Baltimore screws up so they can get an upgrade for free. Nobody wants Pie or Scott (not because Scott 'is a DH' but because he can't hit, teams want guys proven to smack the ball regularly) but Lee et al they'd snap up fast if the O's screw up.

At this point we should pay someone to take Pie away from this organization.

Jeff -

The O's have proven time and time again that they cannot get any value in July trades. Let's not even speculate ....any trade made will be a total giveaway further depressing the handful of loyal fans who still care.
Koji and Guthrie are steadying influences ...and good guys ...amidst a group having no compass. And we can bring both of them back next year without affecting any other roster plans. No brainer to me ....don't deal 'em.

The Pirates are probably much less interested in Uehara than they were yesterday. They picked up Jason Grilli as a RH setup pitcher. He was blocked in the Phillies minors. When is the last time the O's had a minor-leaguer whom another team wanted to put immediately into MLB? I get the feeling that if anyone took one of our triple-A players, it would be for their double-A team.

I think we oughta trade everyone we have to get every starting lefthander in the American League.

Might be the only move we can make with this bunch to improve our record against southpaws.


The Pirates are said to be looking for additional starting pitching for the stretch run. Do they have any matches in their farm system that might work for the Orioles? Also, how is it that they seem to have the resources to scout the Caribbean and we don't?

Jeff Z's reply: Don't know much about the Pirates system to be honest so I'd hate to speculate. A couple of writers have been in contact with me and asked what O's would want in return, and I told them "Major League-ready pitching." Not sure how much of that Pitt has down on the farm. As for scouting the Caribbean, I don't think it's necessarily about having the resources.It's about decided what you are going to spend them on, and the Orioles clearly don't think that is a good use of their money to spend it on international scouting. Andy has said it several times.

What gets me about the Orioles is that, they don't realize they're a bunch of scrubs. The approach to the trading deadline is ridiculous. They're acting like they've got a roster full of superstars and the rest of the MLB will come begging. Are you kidding me?!

You need to have a fire sale right now, and get rid of those who are not part of your future. You suck because those "trade chips" you have suck.

No one is untouchable in this ball club. I mean not a single player. Not, even your high draft picks like Weiters and Matusz. If you can get an absolute Ace of a pitcher, and an absolute monster of a bat, you need to part ways with any and all of your overhyped prospects. Your track record shows that your prospects don't develop anyway. So get something while you can.

If you can lure Hart here I think that would be good, unless he doesn't want to work with Angelos. I thought Buck would want to slide in there and I'm still not ruling it out. On players, I'd hate to see Koji go, but I understand, whatever happens I hope we get something decent back. Pie is some enigma. I thought for sure he was coming around. Maybe Crowley not being around was a factor and maybe being buddy-buddy with Scott isn't all its cracked up to be. What a waste, its like he wants to be a "cool" player and gets caught up in juvenile stuff rather than manning-up. We kept him instead of Cory Patterson---another McPhail boo-boo.


I agree with you 100%. Felix needs to be released, or outrighted to AAA-Norfolk.

I would not be mad at the Orioles if they were to come out and say hey, Nolan Reimold is our future in LF, his going to be in the lineup day in, day out,

Will they do that? Probably not.

Also, little off subject, Carlos Marmol (Cubs) like the idea of him becoming Baltimore's closer.

Thoughts, anyone?

Jeff: Nice coverage here, and informative. I have two questions regarding GM prospects and scouting in general.

1. Is the fact that Hart drove the Ranger organization into receivership not a concern, or does the blame lie elsewhere?

2. While the O's do have players from other parts of the country--players a casual fan could zero in on via Baseball America scouting reports--it seems that there is an over-abundance of players in the O's system coming from a relatively small geographical area of the northeast. It just seems that the scouting is too concentrated in the O's back yard. Is this a misconception on my part?

Jeff Z's reply: I would have to do a little more homework on the Hart regime in Texas to comment much on that. But it's hard to know what O's are concerned with or not. Angelos is not exactly volunteering that they are looking at Hart and he'd be the one to make that change. Hart's name is coming up because he has a great relationship with Buck and a lot of people in the industry have speculated that he really wants to get back in the game. As for your second question, I'm not sure I follow. But obviously scouting and player development are - and should be - open to a lot of criticism right now.

We can't get any prospects. We can't develop any prospects. We can't trade for any prospects. We are the only major league team who would have Pie on the roster. That speaks volumes.

It's sad to see, and I'm not pushing for it, but I get the feeling that we're seeing the winding down of the MacPhail era during this second half of the season. These trades just might be the last hurrah/last ditch effort to leave some positive mark on the franchise for Andy. As much as it would have been a great story to see a childhood fan come on to steer the franchise back to winning ways, it may not be in the cards.

I see Koji as someone who may not perform well outside of comfortable surroundings. Part of the reason he wanted to re-sign with the O's was that his son was in school here. I think anyone trading for Koji may end up disappointed. JMO.

"The club didn’t feel that Guthrie would have any more value now than he would after the season or before next year’s trade deadline, where he would almost certainly be moved because he’s in the final year of his contract."

That was the same mentality they took with Luke Scott last year. And look how well that turned out...

The Orioles must get a quality 1B who can actually do damage with his bat, or they move Reynolds there and acquire a 3B (Bell looks like he'll never figure out how to walk along with his striking out, and a .312 OBP doesn't cut it.) They need to get position players and pitchers, so they need to deal smartly..

How GREAT it would be....

... to see Guthrie pitching for the Yanks or Sox? FINALLY, he'd be on a team that would reward him with W's.

Because you see, in Baltimore, it's NOT about W's. Sorry----- it's just not. Why else would this organization be run by the exec who has lost more games than anyone else over the past 2 decades if W's mattered?

Why else would PA not even care that he is voted EVERY YEAR as the worst owner in the game?

Answer: Because W''s do not matter to this organization.

In NY, Jeremy would be the # 2 starter, projected to win 15 games in '12. Same for Boston, Texas, or any other solid team who CARES about W's.

So PLEASE trade Jeremy Andy. While you don't mind L's, he does. He deserves to escape this horrid, horrid organization once and for all.

It would be the BEST thing to come out of this season.... seeing Jeremy pitching in the Post Season.

I would think Texas would think twice before taking Koji and his problem with the heat. If he has problems in Baltimore what will happen in Texas.

Nothing is more important than a decent return. When we keep accepting the Josh Bells of the world, we lose any bargaining chips we might have held because nobody pays us any attention.

If we can't get good return on Koji or Guthrie, forget it. It's more important to send the message that we are nobody's patsies anymore than to get garbage players in return for the few good players we have,

Jeff. Why do you assume Buck will be back next year in any capacity? Do you think there's any chance at all he just swims away from this sunken shipwreck of an organization?

Jeff Z's reply: Sure there is a chance, but I think it is highly unlikely.

Hey Jeff, One more question,

You have said that there is plenty of blame to go around in the Orioles organization for the continued poor results, and you are close enough to the situation to know what you are talking about

Given that, what do you think Andy Macphail could have done differently in his four years to affect a more positive outcome? I know hindsight is 20/20 but did Andy have the authority to make the moves he needed, including changing front office personnel? It just seems that he came in with lofty rhetoric but not much has changed. Why didn't he improve the team?

Jeff Z's reply: I think he could have been more aggressive in acquiring talent, first and foremost. That means make more aggressive offers to better free agents, that means spend more internationally, etc. I also think he could have done a better job upgrading the scouting and player development departments. And by that I mean, hiring more scouts, surrounding himself with better evaluators and upgrading the coaches and evaluators throughout the system. If you thin about it, how many non-laying personnel in this organization have lost their jobs in the last three or four years? You can probably count that group on one hand, and we're talking abotu an organization that has lost 13 years in a row. But I will say this, not all of that is on Andy either. Sure, there are some people in this organization who have relationship with Angelos and probably aren't going anywhere. And certianly there are areas where Peter would prefer to spend his money. So I wouldn't say Angelos gave MacPhail carte blanche, but he was more than willing to do a lot of the things Andy wanted/advised to do.

Hey Jeff, One more question,

You have said that there is plenty of blame to go around in the Orioles organization for the continued poor results, and you are close enough to the situation to know what you are talking about

Given that, what do you think Andy Macphail could have done differently in his four years to affect a more positive outcome? I know hindsight is 20/20 but did Andy have the authority to make the moves he needed, including changing front office personnel? It just seems that he came in with lofty rhetoric but not much has changed. Why didn't he improve the team?

I would have no problems trading within the division. Two of this franchise's best trades were to the NYY (when we got McGregor, Dempsey, Martinez for Holtzman, Hendricks among others) and Sox (Anderson and Schilling for Boddicker). Go where you can get the best return regardless. It's not like those we trade away are leading us to the post-season anytime soon.

As for Pie, don't you think they're showcasing for other teams' scouts in the hopes he catches fire and can be part of a package. I would think Nolan will be playing more regularly after 7/31.

I like Buck but when is he going to realize Pie and Andino are turds not nuggets?

@joe from jersey, others:

Re Patterson: Toronto

The multi-hit night was Patterson's third of the month, and 17th of the season. He's now batting .293 through his first 222 at-bats, and looks and looks poised to remain a solid AL-only league option going forward. Jun 10, 10:51 PM

G 86 AB 311

.254 .289 .383 .694 // 162 game Avg. .253 .292 .403 .694

Bal (3 years) .272 .311 .412 .723

Signed thru 2011, 1 yr/$900k

Thanks to all the reasonable folks who agree that trading quality for questions is bs. Koji is my favorite player, the consummate Team player. Guthrie will be fine as well as most of our younger pitching but if we get significantly better by trading him then do so.
Jeff: I realize that there was little interest in Vlad last year, and his hand might make this a moot point, but, any thoughts that on a contending team he might come back to life?

I see no point in a team that desparately needs pitching trading two of its best pitchers, especially when Guthrie is under their control for next year, and Koji is sure to vest. Neither one is likely to bring an impact player in return, so they have greater value if they stay than if they go.

Don't do it, Andy Mac. Don't make a trade just to make it look like you're doing something. Sometimes, the best action is no action at all.

Guess I'm the only one but I don't see Lee clearing waivers; regardless of his salary and output. Vlad yes, because his output has now falling since last year's All Star break and he's a one dimensional player. Lee on the other hand is a good fielder and still has some pop in his bat.

If the season ended today....we would get the 2nd pick of the draft......woohoo.

JEFF GOOD DISCUSSION. I agree almost entirely on your analisis except for LEE I REALLY feel he is doing alot better lately and should have some value especially to a NL team with his defense and power threat plus a 2nd half reputation, especially if we pay part of the salary. DO NOT TRADE KOJI OR GUTHRIE unless convinced you are getting a ML caliber prospect.. I still want to see JJ as a starter this august.. IF our money is to be spent on the draft then we have to sign BUNDY whatever it takes.. ALONZO would be a good fit because he could play LF if we went after FIELDER.. BUT I would still love to get DAVIS OR GOLDSCHMIDT as well in case we didn't get fielder.. AFTER them sarting pitching and more starting pitching.. I thought we were getting to the point where our next starter would have to dominate to get a chance now back to warm bodies..

Chris Davis is a stud. If available, we should try to get him. Fielder won't come here but 25 year old Davis would be a very nice consolation prize. And if you can get Fielder too, great, but that's a dream not anything close to reality with this outfit's history.

There are no good players out there to buy or for which to trade. The best players are not up for sale. We have to grow out own - it is up to the scouts to find them. The pitching prospects looked good this year but they didn't pan out, We just have to keep trying.

since the bullpen and starting pitching struggles year in and year out, what do you think the Orioles would have to offer the Phillies for some of their AAA pitching (Scott Mathieson, Phillipe Aumont and Mike Zagorski) who are stuck at their AAA team in the Lehigh Valley? I live real close to the Lehigh Valley and see pretty many games every year, but they are stuck there because the Phillies pitching is so good. Mathieson could also help as a starter who throws high 90's. What do you think??

jeff: i liked ur reply to the "duke of york"
re mcphail...and i think u hit the nail right on the head...PA has the final
all the discussions about change to the
gm, and others in the organization..will
not happen unless PA either sells the club or goes away. we are looking at
an organization that will take another
5-10years to contend if everything was
done today that should have been done
10 years bringing a new gm
a new manager etc will not have any
immediate effect..the organization is
flawed from top PA to bottom pie.

"I like Buck but when is he going to realize Pie and Andino are turds not nuggets?"

Obviously not tonight as Buck has Andino in the lineup AGAIN instead of Blake Davis who sure make some "loud" outs and last I checked broke up Santana's no no last night. The entire baseball world knows that Andino is nothing but a role player, late inning replacement except Buck. The team is still in last place and will go on to have a 14th consecutive losing season and yet Buck still won't play the kids to see what they can do on a REGULAR basis.


What if...

We trade Mark Reynolds, Jeremy Guthrie & Koji to the Yanks for Tex, Nova, Joba & Nunez.

Throwing a jab at Tex, but, Reynolds would be a less expensive version (atleast this year).

What dreams may come...

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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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