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December 3, 2011

Top questions for O's heading into winter meetings

In his brief tenure as the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations, Dan Duquette has executed a number of firsts.

He made his first trade (acquiring catcher Taylor Teagarden), signed his first free agent to a 40-man roster spot (infielder Matt Antonelli), hired his first important lieutenant (amateur scouting director Gary Rajsich) and rubbed elbows with other top executives at his first general manager meetings since being fired by the Boston Red Sox in 2002.

Now the training wheels -- or, perhaps more appropriately in Duquette's case, the rust -- will officially vanish this week as he represents the Orioles at baseball's annual winter meetings in Dallas. He'll be catching up with old friends and contacts and hoping to make new ones as he attempts to improve an Orioles club that has had a losing record for a franchise-worst 14 straight seasons.

“The winter meetings are fun,” Duquette said. “You are on the hunt. You are trying to get players that will help your team.”

The fun begins in earnest Monday and runs through Thursday. The hunt will be expansive and exhaustive; the club has a number of holes but is unlikely to compete for top-tier free agents. So there likely will be plenty of trade talk with other teams as well as a parade of agents representing mid-level players visiting the Orioles' suite at the Hilton Anatole.

Here are some questions -- and attempts at answers -- heading into the winter meetings, broken down into five installments.

Who will be in the Orioles' contingent?

Duquette is still formalizing his staff, so it's a partial list. Orioles manager Buck Showalter will be there, as will Rajsich and John Stockstill, entering his third season as the club's player development director.

Pro scouts Dave Engle and Bruce Kison are expected to attend, but Lee MacPhail IV, who was reassigned last week from pro scouting director to a regular scouting role, will not. Four men prominent in the Orioles' suite at the past few meetings -- MacPhail; his uncle, former club president Andy MacPhail; former baseball operations director Matt Klentak; and former amateur scouting director Joe Jordan -- will be elsewhere this year.

Because the winter meetings are also part trade show, there will be plenty of support staff and Orioles minor league officials in attendance. And perhaps one or more new hires that have not been announced will be part of the Orioles' brain trust in Dallas.

That could include former Philadelphia Phillies GM Lee Thomas, who reportedly has been hired as a special assistant to Duquette, who has not confirmed the move. By the end of Thursday, there could be a few more additions to Duquette's front office.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 3:57 PM | | Comments (20)
        

Comments

Dan, I have to question you one this, I just have to.

The fun begins in earnest Monday and runs through Thursday. The hunt will be expansive and exhaustive; the club has a number of holes but is unlikely to compete for top-tier free agents. So there likely will be plenty of trade talk with other teams as well as a parade of agents representing mid-level players visiting the Orioles' suite at the Hilton Anatole

1st of all where is the fun?
2nd mid-level players? Well we didn't get Santiago or Capuano, so who's left from that coningent that can help the O's in 2012? Lastly, we got Duquette, Showalter, Rajsich, Stockstill and maybe Lee Thomas all down there. With all that high powered help and the spending of all that money to go to the meetings. What are they looking to accomplish? To me it's rather disappointing to go for run of the mill players, especially when you have all those employees down there. If they were going to do that, why not just send Duquette and Showalter? The Orioles goal will be 65 to 70 wins with what they are currently doing and more importantly they are wasting the fans time! How do they justify this mediocrity year after year? Watching almost every game last year and seeing an average of 10,000 fans attend the home games, are they trying to go for an average of 5000 in 2012 the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards? That's not my idea of a celebration, it's an abomination!

What I would do next week/going forward:

-Trade Reynolds/Reimold/Bundy's brother and another guy (Bell?) for Gio Gonzalez
- Trade Adam Jones, Jim Johnson, and a prospect to the Cubs for Matt Garza.
- Sign Jason Kubel to play LF and replace Reimold
-Sign Wilson Betemit to play 3B
-Sign Nate McClouth or Ankiel to play CF
-Sign Hiroki Kuroda
-Trade Guthrie for a prospect and somebody's good 7th inning guy who we can make our 8th inning guy or closer.

The Orioles would improve drastically. They'd have Garza, Gio, Kuroda, Britton, Arrieta/Matusz/Hunter as the rotation.

Wieters, Davis, Antonelli/Roberts, Hardy, Betemit, Kubel, McClouth/Ankiel, Markakis plus a DH(bring Scott back?) as the lineup.

That's not bad. That could get 75-80 wins in my opinion. Wieters will hopefully take a step forward, the saber projections for Davis are through the roof for next year if he gets to play every day (something like a .500 slugging), Kubel can rake, McClouth and Ankiel aren't Adam Jones but they're not bad either. I'd be excited to watch that team.

There are so many bullpen guys out there we could easily go sign one to replace Johnson.

And one more thing, I'd try to talk Theo into throwing Zambrano into the trade and we'll add Markakis. Bad contract for bad contract, but Big Z could be a stud if he got his mind right.

Then trade Hunter/Schoop to the Marlins for Logan Morrison, and boom your RF is in place for the next 5 years. And he's going to be much better than Markakis.

Very ambitious, and they probably wouldn't ever shake things up that much in reality. But they should.

Our offense would take a hit with those moves, but we could win with pitching and a reduced offense, not the other way around.

I would really like to see a blockbuster trade or even a Pujols or fileder. I think that they really need to give the fans some hope and purpose to attend the games for the next several years while the rebuilding process takes hold. It shouldn't take 5 years to put together a winner, so signing a big name free agent doesn't seem like a waste of money.

Pat, you are kidding, right?

Dan, Bring in Big Papi for two years let him Hit 30+ Homers each year!!

I think the orioles need a big bat like fielder or pujols and they need a decent ace to help the staff. We are never going to win with a young staff and no help big bats in the lineup. The o's are going to lose fans if they don't contend soon not in another four to five years thats what they always say. Its getting old.

Lefty" Rosenthal you are and idiot to get rid of those first 3 players wake up they produced you live in a dream world
I hate when people like you make comments on subjects they know nothing about

We have to sign adam jones for the next 5 years, it would be a huge mistake if we dont. He hasn't even reached his potential yet and is coming off a career best 280 25 hrs and 83rbis. His range out in cf is amazing, I would be so upset if we let him walk.

We need pitching. We got to take the best offer for guthrie, hopefully matusz gets back on track this year and arrieta, britton, tillman and bergensen progress this year. It kills me seeing all the otehr teams in our division develop great young pitchers and none of ours ever pan out. I am optimistic about dylan bundy and he could be in the majors in 2 years, hopefully matusz, britton, arrieta and tillman progress and reach their potential by then bc that would be a scary 5 man rotation.

As far as hitting, hardy, markakis, jones, scott, reynolds and wieters is a strong nucleus to build a line up around. Hopefully roberts plays which would give us another great threat in our line up.


BigFan's comments about Big Papi may be a good idea, but I think it will take a 3-year deal to get him.

If the Red Sox sign Fielder, Ortiz could be available. The guy is clubhouse gold.

Pat, I really hope you're kidding. Most of those would be awful moves, no offense.

I disagree with almost everyone who's commenting on the Orioles. I do NOT want to see trades for top or even mid-level MLB talent. The O's are in full rebuilding mode. We're like a team that is at the end of a great run of success, which we bought by draining our minor leagues. The fact that we haven't actually had the success doesn't change anything. We will not be competitive in 2012, 0r 2013, or 2014. We need to shore up the MLB team with a few useful players, and then ask who will be part of our hoped-for success in 2015 and beyond. These will be AA and AAA players, so that's what we need. I expect cries of denial about this, but I do not expect anyone to make a reasoned case for trying to compete in 2012 based on the reality of the 150 or so players in the system. There are just too few of them who are competent to play at the level of their assignments.

Yes, Pat's kidding. Or he's smoking dope. One of the two. No way is Jones part of a package deal. He's at worst a straight-up one-for-one deal for another 1 or 1A superstar. It's ridiculous to say otherwise.

And including Johnson in that package is ... bizarre. He's a huge talent. He could be worth two or three serious minor league stars to any team looking for winning bullpen mojo in '12, and willing to cough up their future. It's happened before (*cough* Seattle *cough*).

I'm not ready to get rid of Reynolds, either. If we don't sign a big name at first (see below), Reynold's proven that he is more than capable defensively there. He surprised me with his play there at the end of the season. As brick-handed as he was at third, he really shows promise, if he works at it, at first base.

I'd make a play for Fielder/Pujols. Maybe the Os already have and the numbers are just too rich for Angelos. But I think he needs to give Duquette a hell of a lot of room to make something happen. It would be an enormous shot in the arm for the team to get either player, and may very well get some other 1A players to entertain coming here for a more reasonable price.

I know, I know--probably a pipe dream. But we can't seem to play Moneyball here. It doesn't work for us. We need to take a serious shot at a big name, and hope that it gives the team enough of a boost that the money is earned back in attendance and MASN ad sales.

Uncle Goose is correct - the Orioles need to stay patient and employ a rebuilding strategy that will put them in contention by 2015. Signing Pujols or Fielder or CJ Wilson would be a bad move - you can't contend when one player accounts for 20%-25% of your payroll.

The O's need to focus on value signings and trades this offseason while trying to buy-low on some former top prospects. Guys like Ryan Doumit (DH) and Ediwn Jackson (SP) would be great signings, as they would likely only cost around $5M and $8M respectively. The O's should also try to trade for Chris Heisey (LF, CIN) or David Murphy (OF, TEX), two undervalued players who could start in LF or platoon with Reimold.

I've put together an offseason strategy guide for the Orioles and it can be found here: http://baseballthingsconsidered.tumblr.com/

i like Pat's aggressive thinking, though I'm not high on trading for Garza. the move to the NL Central greatly inflated his appeal.

that said, we should be looking to move Jones. the fact that he can't wait to get out of town is the worst-kept Orioles secret since Costner/Ripken.

I actually wasn't kidding, though it seems my ideas are not popular.

My thought was simply this: do whatever possible to add quality, young starter pitching. It's our only chance. We have a better chance being substantially worse offensively, but adding pitching, rather than standing pat with the lineup or even adding to it but rolling with the guys we have.

You laugh about the Jones/Johnson combo, but I'd do anything possible to get Garza, even if that means overpaying. He's 28, under team control until 2014 and has proven he can pitch in the AL east. So if we have to overpay, so be it. There will be a feeding frenzy for him if the Cubs actually do shop him. I agree Johnson is a talent, but there are no less than 12 guys on the market with closing experience, and what good does a closer do anything if you can't get to the 8th and 9th inning with a lead?

I like Reynolds too, in fact was my favorite Oriole last year. But again, if there was chance to deal him in a package to get somebody like Gio Gonzalez or Jurrjens you have to do it.

My point is we'd have a shot at 80 wins with 2 top quality young pitchers, not so with keeping Jones/Johnson/Reynolds and throwing out bums. We can keep Adam Jones and see him go to All-star games on 90 loss teams. And we can sign Fielder and see him add 4 wins to the club and still be in last place. OR we can really shake it up and do whatever possible to add pitching. I'd take the pitching any day.

@ORIOLES FOR LIFE

What are you talking about and why am I an idiot? What three players? I mentioned only two and the fact we can't acquire them any longer and said nothing of removal of anyone.

jeff,

which one of those moves suggested by Pat is awful? if anything, they are too optimistic. Oakland would never consider that offer for Gio (assuming the rumors of other possible packages are based in some sort of truth), i think he's too bullish on Garza's ability to compete in the AL East given his track record and i imagine it would prove pretty difficult to convince Kuroda to come east to play for Baltimore. that said, the O's would become a much better team without sacrificing much of the future by making those deals. just do the math (even the most conservative comparison of predicted WAR would have the O's coming out even, at worst).

throw vladdy a bone.. if hes actually working out he can dump 5 or 6 of those wallbanging doubles over the fence this year.. the best average guy on the team, a probable hall of famer doesnt at least get an incentive ladden 1 year contract offer.. dh problem solved!!

What is all this talk about not signing a Fielder because of the huge chunk of payroll? Does Angelos have relatives writing on this site? Angelos is awash in money. If they don't make a splash one of these years there won't be a payroll. No fans, no payroll. The O's desperately need to make a huge move or they won't come. Stop with this payroll crap. The O's could have a $200m payroll if they had an owner that gave a crap. The O's will perhaps win 60 games in 2012. You fans like that? Boycott this horrid organization....they deserve it. It's just the same music year in and year out. They won't do anything. And the trade comments by Pat....he's insane. Atlanta has a young tough pitcher by the name of Jair available. Why isn't he an Oriole?

lunatic,

what don't you like about those proposed deals, and what makes you think Jair will come any cheaper? he won't (the Braves want a shortstop and an outfielder), and he's not nearly as talented as Gio or Garza.

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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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