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January 12, 2009

Minor matters

The Orioles have signed a couple more players to minor league contracts. Jolbert Cabrera, who is the brother of shortstop Orlando Cabrera, will compete with Donnie Murphy and Chris Gomez for a utility role and probably end up as Triple-A depth. Catcher Robby Hammock, who has spent all of this pro career with the Diamondbacks, has signed on to compete with Chad Moeller and Guillermo Quiroz for the backup role behind the plate.

The catching speculation presupposes that the Orioles sign a No. 1 guy, which figures to be Gregg Zaun and probably will get done some time after Wednesday's news conference at the Warehouse to introduce Japanese pitcher Koji Uehara.

Just want to remind everyone who is getting ready to write in and say how this is another example of the Orioles inability to sign good players that these are routine housekeeping moves that every team makes. The Dodgers signed 15 guys like this to minor league deals last week.

Former Oriole Jay Gibbons has signed a minor league deal with the Florida Marlins, which sets up an interesting situation. O's beat writer Jeff Zrebiec pointed out that since the Orioles and Marlins play each other a lot in spring training, the Orioles pitching staff could have a major impact on whether Gibbons gets back to the major leagues in April. I know he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, but I like Jay and hope he does work his way back.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 4:54 PM | | Comments (38)
Categories: Just baseball
        

Comments

I myself would not mind seeing Gibby back in B'more ...... but then again I would lobby to vote Mark McGuire into the Hall of Fame .

WOW! The Orioles made 2 blockbuster deals today! No wonder they are viewed so favorably by the public and media (sarcasm). I may go out to a few games this year just to watch the downward spiral continue. How low can they go?

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Pete's reply: I guess you just don't understand how minor league rosters are constructed. This has absolutely nothing to do with your complaints about the major league club. Try to focus.

I agree about Jay,i don't know what people's beef is with him. A lot of good it did to let him go last year and keep the scrub Moore.
The O's have to have enough position players to make it through spring training and play split squad games etc so these signings aren't a sign of an abysmal failure are they appear to be.

"Just want to remind everyone who is getting ready to write in and say how this is another example of the Orioles inability to sign good players..."

Pete,

It is interesting to me how often you (and Roch Kubatko in his blog) feel the need pre-empt a knee-jerk uninformed response by people who are more angry than smart. I am reminded of this line from "The Godfather":

"I have a sentimental weakness for my children and I spoil them as you can see. They talk when they should listen."

Some of these fans need not to talk so often. They only expose their ignorance of the game.

Remember when Earl Weaver went nuts when he watched Earl Williams warm up a pitcher between innings while sitting on a stool?

What would Earl think if he saw a hammock behind the plate?


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Pete's reply: Just reading that name make me want to take a nap.

I think Jay has "done his time", I hope he makes it back.

No complaint about these minor moves, but I would be happy if the O's would acknowledge that they need more innings eaters for this season. Paul Byrd would seem to be a good fit and would probably be cheap.

While I agree with you that Gibbons was a good guy, the O's won't become competitive by bringing in nice guys. The problem wasn't that he wasn't a good guy, it was that he stopped hitting. I have nothing but love for Gibbons and hope that he can get back to the big show, but the Steroids Era in Baltimore must come to an end. Hopefully trading Tejada was a way of exorcising those demons.

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Pete's reply: Agreed. I wasn't saying I wanted the Orioles to bring Gibbons back. I'm just rooting for him to get back to the big leagues.

Hey the fact that fans even bother to react to such moves is a sign that at least there are O's fans out there. Judging from the tone of the Teixiera non-signing, it looked like most of the 'fans' have ended their O's allegiance.(Or maybe they have and are either trying to shake things up here or need their daily -Schmuck fix!).
On the subject of HOF voting, is there much turnover within the writer voting crew? The reason I ask is that if the same people are voting year afer year, how can so many change their minds? Players like Rice went from 40% to the required 75% in 5 years so what gives?

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Pete's reply: I guess I need to do an expanded entry on the voting process. There isn't so much turnover as an influx of new voters every year, though a few people do pass away at the other end of the spectrum. I think there are swings in opinion over time. In Rice's case, his power numbers didn't look so good when Sammy Sosa was hitting 292 home runs in a five-year period.

Jay Gibbons was a cheat and a liar. Saying that, if he could hit .280 with 25 honest home runs, he'll have a home somewhere. Cheats and liars deserve second chances too.

Ken Rosenthal reported that the O's were scouting Eric Milton. Did you hear what the O's thought of his throwing session this week? If he is actually healthy, he would not be a bad addition.

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Pete's reply: No, I don't have any info on that. I'll ask around.

I was surprised when the O's released him. They were already paying his salary why not send him to the minors if he would have accepted the demotion.

Zaun as the no 1 guy. That about says it all doesn't it? Can't hit, can't throw. But he is related to Dempsey. Surely there is a light hitting catcher out there somewhere who can throw guys out.

Jay Gibbons can go fly a kite. Robby Hammock is actually worth signing and so is Donnie Murphy. Everybody thinks the Orioles will be bad but I think with the way this off season has started it shows that Angelos is becoming more open to putting more money in to the team.

repeat after me..build the farm up, build the farm up, build the farm up.
HEY I got an idea lets build the farm up!!!

"the Orioles pitching staff could have a major impact on whether Gibbons gets back to the major leagues in April."

Or Jay could have a major impact on what pitchers go north with the Orioles!

With the recent Michael Young trade request, what are the chances that the O's could try to make a trade for him. I know it would take a good bit to get him from them but that would give us our SS for several more years. I have like Young since he came into the league a couple years ago.


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Pete's reply: John Hart, who is a special advisor for the Rangers, said tonight on the MLB Network that the Rangers do not want to trade him, so it's a little early to wonder what it will take.

One thing about Hammock. He was Randy Johnson's personal catcher with the Diamondbacks.

Every team makes these kinds of deals to load up at triple A and this is not something that people should make a big deal out of it.

Pete: Does this minor league contract wipe the contract clean of what we owe Gibbons? I am thinking it does not, but it would sure be nice.

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Pete's reply: No, whatever he makes from the Marlins would be subtracted from what the O's owe him, so he really wasn't making a sacrifice when he sent out that letter last year offering to play for somebody for free.

I never thought it possible that a team can go through an entire Winter without signing one legitimate Major League player. Am I wrong? Tell me they may spend any of the 140MM that they offered Tex or was that just the normal PA smokescreen. I hate being pessimistic, but 11 years and no end in sight is what it is

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Pete's reply: Frankly, I want them to spend that $140 million when it will really help, not just to buy what's left in the market.

I want to chime in on the fact that we have been "rebuilding" for 11 years, because we haven't. The phrase "rebuilding" didn't start till Andy took over. Under Grover, they couldn't decide if they wanted to get younger, compete now, so nothing happened. They tried under Maz and Sammy, to add some high paid FAs that didn't turn out the way everyone hoped, so even though the 11 years have been awful, we haven't been rebuilding till Andy took over.

I, 100% don't think the O's have any other avenue to be serious contenders than to TRY and rebuild. Will it work? Maybe, maybe not, but the only other alternative is to do what the Birds do best, throw money at some decent, but not spectacular FAs and hope all the major holes, will magically fill themselves.

The minor league system became a joke, so to get it back to where if a guy goes down, the season doesn't end, it takes time, patience, good drafting and signing guys like we've been signing in case for a 3 week stretch, we need one of them, without calling up a prospect that clearly isn't ready. These names aren't sexy, but this is what every team does: the good, the bad and in the in between teams, so we aren't doing anything that the other clubs aren't.

Pete, I have to ask you if you are a little shocked (surprised) that Dunn and Abreu, seem to be not garnering a lot of interest? If this turns into a case where one of these guys, can be had for a mutually beneficial contract, would you go for it? In my opinion, it would be foolish to think that we count on the same high powered offense again in 2009, without adding another bat.


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Pete's reply: For reasons I can't explain, I've never been an Abreu fan. I wouldn't mind having Dunn for a few years to make the games more exciting, but it's not my money.

Pete-

While I'll agree with you that Jay Gibbons is a seemingly good guy, I don't believe that he'll make it back to the major league level. Why? Because he's like so many players of this era - way too one-dimensional...of the five basic skills, he fits the bill on only one, hitting, and even that was sketchy. I'm sometimes surprised how players such as Gibbons even make it to the major league level at all.

Pete, Wasn't that a phantom 140mm? Come on, the offer would have been pulled if their was the slightest bit of interest on Bor-ass' part

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Pete's reply: Think what you want. If you believe the Orioles absolutely don't want to win and are just sucking money out of you and other fans, why are you still paying attention? I think they wanted him. I think Peter Angelos is way too rich to enjoy owning an embarrassing team just to make a few more million.

Pete, why the O´s show no interest in good free agents such as Bobby Abreu? He is a selective batter, and seems to be a classy guy. I know we already have Markakis in right, but I believe Abreu could switch to left and we would have one of the best outfields in the majors.

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Pete's reply: I just weighed in on Abreu. I wouldn't spend the money it would take to sign him.

I understand these minor moves to fill out the minor league teams. But when is Andy going to get around to an extension for Nick. These scrub washed up, never were players will still be out there when needed. I don't care if these are the "best" players for our minor league team, I could care less if our minor league teams win anything. Worry about signing the players that are going to help us in the future.

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Pete's reply: There is no future without a solid minor league system, but I get your drift. Markakis was the one who asked for a timeout in the negotiations. I think they'll resume soon.

I always liked Gibbons and thought he had a bright future. I hope he makes it back and becomes a big time bopper.

I really don't have a problem with any moves McPhail has made so far. But spring training is creeping up on us and we only have 2/5 of the starting rotation set (3/5 if you're generous). There are plenty of arms out there that can eat some innings. It would just be nice if maybe 1 established quality starter would end up in orange and black.

Ok Os lets give it a chance...we do have good players, a solid outfield and a fair to good bullpen. Pitchng always is a need..and Texeira, well alot of money, good ballplayer no doubt, but has never hit 300, I would stick with Makaris and with some luck, well who knows..Yanks with all those stars did not win anything..I think they again may find that to many cooks well you know..stay positive and a good minor lge system...but for me, probably will lose interest if by June they are 10 games out..and sadly so will many others..FJN -Hagerstown

I understand the need to rebuild with young players and not to clog things up with multi-year contracts for aging players, but, the O's need to sign someone to eat innings to keep the bullpen healthy and allow young pitchers to develop naturally.

Os in '09 are going to be in a holding an praying situation, hoping the new pitchers are better than what they had (how can they not be?),that Chris Ray
is better and that Sherrill can repeat while the young studs are developing at AAA with Matt Wieters. The Os will also have to hope that Mora (a true good guy) can repeat and that Huff's
maturity can continue to give him success. Otherwise it will be 6th or 7th place in the AL East.

What has gone under the radar is that
Mike Griffin is moving up to AAA. Mike is the Os secret weapon with a resume of having developed Papelbon, Lester et al for the Red Sox. Os should bring him to Camden Yards when the kiddie corps arrives.

As i have stated before we need a Major league catcher right now!!!!!!! to prepare and handle our young staff......

Hoping to get Zaun or Irod and not getting either could be a HUGE setback..Wieters is not ready yet

ps hey Rick Dempsey we need you or your nephew..Badly

Brad - (and everyone else who has voiced a similar thought) the fact that there are, as you say, "plenty of arms out there that can eat some innings" means that the law of supply and demand works to depress prices. But even in that context, the Orioles would have to pay more than some other teams to get guys early in the offseason. It's a little like playing chicken to see who will flinch first, the teams that want players or the players that want jobs. I still believe that we have not seen the last signing or move by the Orioles, even though I don't expect a major deal that will lead to the playoffs this year. But the whole idea of right player, right price is still out there, and if some of the better players remaining drop their asking price then the Orioles may make some moves. If they don't come down in their demands, AM seems determined not to overpay just to go from 68 wins to 72 wins. And I agree with that philosophy, as long as it translates to a competitive team on a consistent basis beginning in the next year or two.

I find myself typically making comments here at your blog in defense of McPhail and/or the Orioles long term plan. However, I must disagree with your comment of "I want them to spend that $140 million when it will really help, not just to buy what's left in the market." It seems every off-season we pass on the better free agents because they are overpriced or they won't make a difference right now. One of these years, you need to take that money you have "saved" by not signing all of these free agents over the years and actually sign a couple of them. Since 2000, we have spent significant off season dollars only once (2004 - Tejada, Javy Lopez). I am not saying this is the year that we do it, but I tire of the same comments in defense of the Orioles every time they pass on a high priced free agent. If we sit on the sidelines every year, what are we saving our acquisition capital for? For all the money we have saved over the years by not breaking the bank on any free agents, we ought to grossly overpay from time to time (Sabathia, Dice-K) in order to get a few of them in an Orioles uniform.


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Pete's reply: But it hasn't been a bunch of years. They were spending stupid money on useless players up to a couple of years ago.

RE: YOUR RESPONE -- With all due respect, Peter, I don't call $5M/year on Omar Daal and Marty Cordova in 2003, $4M on Steve Kline and Steve Reed in 2006 and $8M on Aubrey Huff, Jamie Walker and Danys Baez in 2007 "spending money". Other than the Tejada/Lopez/Palmeiro free agent bonanza of 2004, we have not signed one meaningful player in ten years. Again, I am the last guy to advocate throwing dollars at players who won't make a difference, but the O's cash coffers ought to be so fat from a lack of spending over the past ten years that we should be able to find a legitimate use for it. Matsuzaka, Sabathia, Konerko, Teixera or any one of a whole host of other free agents locked up to 8 year deals could have helped expedite the rebuilding process. Sure, you'd need to grossly overpay to get any of them; but, so what, isn't that we have been saving up money for all these years for?

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Pete's reply: Maybe, but you seem to be confusing spending money with spending money wisely, which is what we're talking about. The Orioles, whether you liked who they signed or not, had large payrolls all those years. My point was that there wasn't long string of years when they were saving money to spend now. I don't doubt they could spend more than they do, but it is a misconception that they didn't spend any money over the past decade. They just didn't spend it well.

Pete,

I agree about the signing and there roles with the team(s) but worry about any of the starters having someone to turn to for advice if Hendrickson is in the pen. With potentially three young guys starting someone has to be there to tutor, much like a Trachsel was suppose to be last year. Could that guy be Guthrie?

What is the status of Chris Waters? Is there a realistic chance that he makes the club or was he a flash in the pan?

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Pete's reply: Chris will be in the mix for the final spots in the rotation.

Pete,

I agree about the signing and there roles with the team(s) but worry about any of the starters having someone to turn to for advice if Hendrickson is in the pen. With potentially three young guys starting someone has to be there to tutor, much like a Trachsel was suppose to be last year. Could that guy be Guthrie?

What is the status of Chris Waters? Is there a realistic chance that he makes the club or was he a flash in the pan?

" We will say neee again to you, if you do not appease us."

I believe you are correct in your feeling about Abreu. He seems to be not a guy that will run through the wall to get an out, but more one that shys away at about the warning track.

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Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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