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December 4, 2011

What is Duquette looking for this week?

We continue our five-part look at the biggest questions facing new vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and the Orioles this week heading into the winter meetings.

What is Duquette looking for this week?

The obvious answer is pitching, both starters and relievers. And he is looking at free agency and trade options.

“That really hasn't changed. We are still working on the pitching,” Duquette said.

In the past, the Orioles have been reluctant to go beyond three years for a free-agent pitcher, and Duquette supports that theory. So that essentially takes them out of signing the top available starters such as C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle.

In fact, there has been little connection between the Orioles and any starters on the free-agent market. That could mean a trade is their best option. Several noteworthy pitchers have been rumored to be available via trade, including the Houston Astros' Wandy Rodriguez, the Chicago Cubs' Matt Garza and a pair of Chicago White Sox, John Danks and Mount St. Joseph alumnus Gavin Floyd.

Aside from pitching, Duquette said the Orioles are targeting an outfielder who can “back up our center fielder and possibly support left field.”

He said a middle infielder is not a top priority because he is “hopeful Brian Roberts will be available to lead off and play second.” If he's not, the Orioles would still have Robert Andino and newly signed infielders Matt Antonelli and Steve Tolleson and “all those are capable players to support second base.”

Another back-burner issue is designated hitter. Manager Buck Showalter would prefer having flexibility at the position, and so it is unlikely the Orioles would sign a DH-only type after being handcuffed by Vladimir Guerrero's inability to play a position last year.

Luke Scott, whose 2011 season was cut short because of shoulder surgery, is still in play. But the Orioles would prefer to re-sign him at a reduced rate from the $6 million-plus he'll be due through arbitration.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)

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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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