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January 30, 2009

Orioles: Out of options

The likely trade for Chicago Cubs pitcher Rich Hill, which was reported by Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly yesterday, would add still another player to the Orioles' roster who is out of minor league options. That means the club has to keep him in the major leagues or put him through waivers to send him to Triple-A Norfolk.

It probably won't be a particularly tough decision, since Hill is a talented guy who has lost his command and will either get it back under familiar coaches Rick Kranitz and Alan Dunn or be considered no great loss on waivers. But he will be far from alone in that roster predicament when he reports to Fort Lauderdale with the other pitchers and catchers on Feb. 14.

The Orioles have seven players with less than five years of major league service who are out of options, including Brian Bass, newly acquired pitcher David Pauley, Hayden Penn, Dennis Sarfate, Scott Moore, Felix Pie and even Jeremy Guthrie.

Of course, Guthrie's option count is not an issue. Pie and Sarfate aren't going anywhere either. But the club could have some difficult decisions late in March. In addition, utilityman Donnie Murphy is out of options, but is not on the 40-man roster.

The club also has four players with just one option left -- Brad Hennessey (not on the 40-man), Alfredo Simon, Brian Burres and Matt Albers.

Radio, radio: Former Baltimore Colt Stan White will join me for a Super Bowl preview tonight on Sportsline on WBAL (1090 AM). We'll also talk Ravens, break down the Rich Hill deal with Orioles beat reporter Jeff Zrebiec and take a ton of your calls. If you're out of signal range, go to and click on the "Listen Live" icon.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 4:45 PM | | Comments (51)
Categories: Just baseball


In my humble opinion (which I know AP and PA are keeping tabs on very closely) I'd say we'll have a tougher time dealing with Bass, Penn and Moore being out of options.

Penn for the simple fact that we've held on to him for this long because we feel like he's right there. Too bad he's been 'right there' for about 3 seasons in a row now, if not 4.

Moore is a huge tough decision because he could play a really great role coming off the bench or spelling Mora from third but with our pickups we likely may not have a place for him unfortunately.

I am currently projecting the 2009 pitching staff as:

Guthrie, Uehara, Hendrickson, Liz, Albers

Sherrill, Ray, Johnson, Walker, Sarfate, Penn, Pauley

With Bergesen, Hernandez, Tillman, Berken, Mickolio, Hoey, McCrory, Patton, Arrieta, Matusz all arms that could help the staff at differing times during 2009.

I see Baez being shown to a lot of teams in Spring Training, and if they can not trade him - I believe he will be released.

I think Burres, Hennessey, Waters, Simon, Bass are non-options that should not come close to making the roster.

If the O's were to obtain either Hill, or Looper, I would imagine that Hendrickson goes to the bullpen and either Walker is traded, or the O's do in-fact use a 13 man staff.

This guy was never going to play for Lou again. He is a whiner and blamed others for his inability to pitch after being sent down. He used to have a big looping curve that looked just like his fastball starting out but he really needed one more good pitch. Reminded me of Sean Marshall only a little higher up in the Cubs pecking order. Now he is a nothing, cant get anywhere near the zone and blames eveyone else. If he continues the O's will soon get their fill of him, hope he changes with a new team. Now if only Andy will take Michael Worst from the Cubs, did I tell you he has an unhittable slider? :)

Larry from Chitown


Can you explain this in depth for me. I'm not sure I fully understand the "out of options" and what causes someone to be out. Does someone have a certain number of times they can be sent down to the minors and brought back up? Thanks in advance.

Rich Hill? Great. Another lousy Cubs reject. Didn't they learn ANYTHING from the Rocky Cherry & Scott Moore fiascos?

It is nice to finally have to worry about this. If the O's are faced with having to hope Pauley, Penn and/or Bass clear waivers then that means someone else stepped up, we hope.

"Rich Hill? Great. Another lousy Cubs reject. Didn't they learn ANYTHING from the Rocky Cherry & Scott Moore fiascos?

Attila, Hill in the majors & minors, has had good years where he's awesome and bad years where he can't find the plate. The thing is, when he had those good years, he had someone in his corner who's name might be familiar to you...Kranitz. If he's going to do anything in the majors, it's gonna be here, with Kranny.

I really don't think that this is an issue. The best 25 guys will make the team. I don't think that Brian Bass or Scott Moore will make the roster. I also think that Penn and Pauley will either pitch well, or they won't. If they do, they're on the team. If they don't, they're not.

I'm quite shocked that on January 30, a couple of weeks before pitchers and catchers report, that Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, Orlando Cabrera, Bobby Abreu, Manny Ramirez, Randy Wolf, Oliver Perez, Ben Sheets and Braden Looper are still on the market. You could field a pretty darned good team with those guys.

I just found a really good story about Rich Hill. They mention the Orioles and specifically Rick Kranitz in the article. Interesting read!

Rich Hill? Great. Another lousy Cubs reject. Didn't they learn ANYTHING from the Rocky Cherry & Scott Moore fiascos?

Posted by: Attila the Hon

Why get rid our own Daniel Cabrera, only to get other team's versions of Daniel Cabrera? What did we gain by allowing him go and sign with Washington for 2._ million / 1yr.? Like Pete said, "warm bodies" to fill the jobs.

Why get rid our own Daniel Cabrera, only to get other team's versions of Daniel Cabrera? What did we gain by allowing him go and sign with Washington for 2._ million / 1yr.? Like Pete said, "warm bodies" to fill the jobs.

Rich Hill is worth checking out, but I wouldn't trade anyone of value for him because he probably needs to go to the minor leagues for a while. That said, it's worth giving up one of the other marginal out-of-options guys for him -- Bass? Penn? -- just to establish a spring-training relationship so that if he DOES clear waivers, they can keep him.

Pete's reply: I don't think they'll give up much of anything for him unless he makes the team and does some good.

When a player is on a major-league club's 40-man roster and in the minor leagues, he is on "optional assignment." Players have three options and may be sent up and down as many times as the club chooses within those seasons but will be charged with only one option per season. When a player is "out of options," it means he has been on a 40-man roster during at least three different seasons and in his fourth


How can you possibly call rocky cherry and scott moore fiasco's? We got them (both of whom were never even close to the same level of prospects as Hill or Pie) for STEVE TRACHSEL!!! Thats correct Steve Trachsel. Getting a bag of baseball should be considered a steal, the fact that we got to players with heartbeats is a miracle. Fiasco is really going way over the top....

I don't think Scott Moore fits into the plans (right or wrong), as I never heard the O's mention him as a possible candidate for 1B which is a position he can play. They talked about Sexson and not Moore. Enough said.

The guy I really like is Brian Bass. Bass was great till he got to the 4th or 5th because he was a reliever and ran out of gas. I expect him to be the 5th starter. Something about his poise and control, I like as a SP.

Pete, does Penn make it out of FL if he just has an ok spring training or do the O's cut ties with him? The patience for him, has to be wearing thin. I would think he has to shine to make the team.

Pete's reply: I think he has to have a decent, but not spectacular, spring and they'll take him north and see what happens.

Someone explain to me why we let Danny Cabrera go so they can get a clone???

Here's how I think the roster will shake out:
Starting Lineup 9most days)
C - Zaun
1B - Huff
2B - Roberts
3B - Mora
SS - Izturis
LF - Pie
CF - Jones
RF - Markakis
DH - Scott
C - Moeller (with Wieters coming up at the end of May).
OF/IF - Ryan Freel
IF - Chris Gomez
OF/1B - Lou Montanez/Oscar Salazar (edge to Lou since he's younger).

Starting Rotation
1. Jeremy Guthrie
2. Koji Uehara
3. Rich Hill/Braden Looper
4. David Pauley
5. Hayden Penn/Hendrickson - Penn with the nod.

Long Relief - Mark Hendrickson/Penn and Matt Albers
Middle Relief - Dennis Sarfate and Jamie Walker
Setup - Jim Johnson and Chris Ray
Closer - George Sherrill

I think that Patton, Burres, and Liz start out the year in AAA. I also think that Baez will get traded or released before the season starts.

Why the love affair with the Cubs minor leaguers. Are they that much better then players in the O's minor league system. If so why not sign cub scouts since they know more about drafting quality players then our scouts do???? What isthe ranking of the cub minor league system vs the O's minor league. Aren't their any other teams we can trade with.

Stan White put me to sleep.

I have to disagree with Chris on his starting rotation. I don't believe Albers will be able to handle the innings with that shoulder. Those shoulder injuries have a tendency to reappear when worked hard. I really think Hennessey is going to be the surprise of spring training. He did very well starting last year. I believe he had a 4 ERA the last month of the season when he was starting. I agree with the Liz choice. He may be ready with his control since it was improving late in the year last season.

Take a chance, Columbus did! I like it the guy has shown some really good potential, more than I can say for Brian Burres! I like it! Beats the deadbeat arms we've picked up so far this year, at least this one has potential!

Are you folks crazy? Don't know how much damage the Cubs' organization has done to Hill, (see Wood-Pryor) but he has ace potential. I'd have no problem dropping Moore from the 40-man roster to make room for Hill.

I agree with Attila the Hon, is McPhail doing all he can for the Orioles, taking yet another lost Cub, Cherry, Moore, Pie, and now Hill. There must be a reason the Cubs sent all of these down...isn't there? Didn't this all start with Sosa!

The Indians gave up on Guthrie and that's turned out pretty well for us. Rich Hill is certainly worth a shot with a new team and environment.

Eventually, we might get to the point where these guys don't even get a chance because our rotation and lineup is set. Won't that be a nice problem to have.

Not much sense in worrying about this. These guys are all bums.

What we should be worrying about is how long will we have to watch the bums before the REAL talent comes up from the minors?

I would not call it difficult. It is what it is. Besides the Orioles are having an audition year. If we lose Scott Moore or Pauley no big thing did not think they would make it on the big club anyway. Hayden Penn will get lots of opportunity just like Pie. I am hopeful that the Orioles will be smart about the situation with both of them. Really do not see Pie as a good acquisition but it is not my club.

It's a shame Ben McDonald never panned out.

Are you guys kidding? Comparing Cabrera to a guy with a killer curveball and who had a WINNING record just two years ago with a low ERA?


Sometimes it's painful to be an O's fan.

Rich Hill, as a reclamation project, would be a fantastic addition considering the state of the starting rotation and Hill's relationship with Rick Kranitz. If he turns it around and puts up 2007-esque numbers (3.92 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) and all the O's give up is a PTBNL, that'll be a steal.

And to the guy who said something about the Rocky Cherry/Scott Moore "fiasco": You, my friend, need a dictionary.

T-Mac-thnks for the w/site refferal I'm sold, drop Moore and let Kranny work his magic on Hill AGAIN! Not having 'sweet Lou' leering at him in a more relaxed O's camp, he's got a better than 50/50 shot. Being here should diminish the stress factor; also he already believes in Kranny! Do it! Pete....a few of your bloggers are pretty sharp!

Hill has had some really good seasons under the tutelage of Rick Kranitz and Alan Dunn. It's certainly a risk worth taking if you're the Orioles. If Hill pitches like he did 2007, this trade will be a steal!

To those who think we got rid of Cabrera for a "clone" in Hill, we haven't worked with Hill for 5 years to try and turn him around. At least Hill has performed at the major league level and had an ERA under 4, which is more than I can say for Cabrera.

Pete - what's up with this Felix Romero kid in AA? Is he a bullpen option this year? Will he be in the Norfolk pen setting up or closing?

Pete's reply: Don't know yet. That's what training camp is for. Real good H/IP and K/IP ratio, but an older prospect. Will be 29 in June.

Hey Peter, Thanks for the information. I have one for you. Predict the opening day roster.

Pete's reply: Wow, could I start with something easier, like picking the MegaMillions.

Rich Hill would be a better addition to the Orioles than Sheets or Looper. Sheets and Looper would get at most 2 year contracts and they would be just stop-gap players. They already have obtained a player like that in Uehara. Tom Gorzelanny of the Pirates would be a better yet addition than Hill. He would have a long term value. I believe he was injuried last year and the Pirates do need a 3rd baseman. Maybe they can work a deal for him?

Hey T-Mac,

Nice effort. What about Bass? Pauley in the rotation? That probably will not happen but good work on that, I guess it depends on if they get Hill and/or Looper. But you did put down a 12 person staff and I was thinking 13 maybe it will be 12 the first few weeks with all the days off. I guess then they would have to make some decisions because of the options as Pete described. But knowing that Pie cannot be sent down, and neither can Bass that kind of makes it a challenge. So we will see, and I am sure injuries will play a part, I am sure one of these guys with no options will pinch a nerve blow drying their hair. When the Orioles said they wanted to see Pie all year, I assume that did not mean they will start him everyday, if he is hitting .200 in June will the Orioles pencil him? I doubt it but who knows with this organization. At least it is not boring but the fact is what are the improvements this year? Not much so far. Little pieces of a puzzle; Freel, Gomez, Pie, Uehara and Hendrickson. and a few career minor league players that have had little MLB experience.

Hey Bear This did not start with Sosa, AM was on the other end of that one.

Your Super Bowl Preview with Stan White plug sounds intriguing.

Care to tell us WHEN to tune in to WBAL radio to listen to it?

"Tonight" IS rather vague, no?

Pete's reply: Sorry, I didn't get your note in time to respond last night. I'm on every night at 6 for the next couple of weeks. Just filling in.

Hill has enough upside that the O's should just stick him in the rotation like Pie in the OF. He should stick around compared to the other guys who are out of options solely because Hill's upside is so much greater. Take the pressure off of him and see what he can do. If he cant come back to where he used to be, then no big loss.

We "let Cabrera go" because he sucks. The guy walks everybody in the stadium & only managed to put it together for about 40 days out of his entire 5 year career. (there's a trend in his career, too - every year he gets worse.) DCab isn't the workhorse everyone thinks, either - he only hit 200IP once.

Hill, on the other hand, has excellent MiL #'s & put up a nice '07 w/3.92ERA. If he can work out his mechanics, he can be a #2/#3. If not, we don't lose anything.

Notice to anyone complaining about letting Daniel Cabrera go: SHUT UP!!!

Can the O's trade with another team other than the Cubs, ie. Sosa, Patterson, Moore, Cherry, Pie, maybe Hill. None of these guys are any good, except for maybe Pie.


Sorting out this starting pitcher quandary is going to make for a looooooong spring training, and a longer summer...pack plenty of SPF30.
With Millar gone, the clubhouse goes back to the state of vanilla, and the ceaseless journey for the team to get back to a level of respectability churns on, and on, ad nauseum.

Pete's reply: I think spring training -- on the field -- will be fasinating, but I agree about the lack of Millar in the clubhouse.

Pete, boy this should be one heck of a spring training to watch. There's got to be sleeper in there somewhere.

Poppabear: the reason that the Cubs sent these guys down is that they have felt over the past few seasons that they had to win RIGHT NOW and could not afford to give a young player time to adjust to the major leagues. Dusty Baker has been a rookie hater for his entire managerial career, and Pinella isn't much better at dealing with young struggling talent. BTW, Cherry and Moore came via trade for Trachsel, who was cooked.

Roy: Pie and Hill aren't minor leaguers. Would you have considered Adam Jones a minor leaguer before the start of last season? Pie is in the exact same position career-wise. Hill threw 195 innings in 2007. He's a major leaguer.

Cliff/DSpedden: How do any of these, especially Hill, compare to Cabrera? Daniel was a head case of the highest magnitude who was in the top three in walks allowed for five straight seasons. Except for brief stretches he refused to do anything to lower his pitch counts and he always pitched as if he were afraid of getting hit by balls back up the middle. I specifically remember him being quoted with something to the effect of "I'm a strikeout pitcher, I'm always going to walk a lot of guys", which spoke directly to his arrogance and uncoachability.

A bit off topic....

" Of course, since I'd personally like to see Millar come back, I could probably come up with a pretty good argument for that, too. "

Come on Pete. Take the challenge. You're good, but let's see how good you really are.

Acccording to


those two are out of options as well.

When Burres was optioned last August, I thought that was a strange time to use a guy's last option (right before rosters were going to expand anyway).

Mr. Schmuck, Please explain the relationship between options and injuries that put a player on the DL. For example, if by some violent stretch of the imagination Hayden Penn were to injure himself during spring training, what could the Orioles do about it? Would they be able to send him to the minors on a rehab assignment after he recovers, and if so, would there be any restrictions on such an assignment that would ultimately force the Os to bring him up or have him go on waivers? Thanks.

Pete's reply: If a guy is out of options and gets hurt, he goes on the DL and that's really the same as keeping him on the 25-man. He can do a rehab assignment in the minors, but if they want to send him down when he's healthy, the same rules apply as at the end of spring training.

I am more concerned about the pick up of Pie, for whom we almost gave up Brian Roberts last year.

Many, including AM, seem to see Pie and Adam Jones in the same tier. This is, IMO, because of the baseball tradition called "potential." We hung on to DCab years after all of his trade value was lost because of "potential."

All the potential in the world will not teach Pie how to deal with off-speed pitches.

And if he can only manage Fahey numbers in the NL what is he going to do in the AL, where even a Papelbon has a change up????

Pie is on the same tier as Louis Matos, Chris Richard, Curtis Goodwin and Mark Smith. Olson can be a serviceable MLB pitcher.

Given the O's extreme need for pitching, Pie is an extravagant and dicey expierement we could have passed on.

T-Mac - nice roster, but keep in mind that Albers and Patton were injured and one or both being ready by opening day is iffy. Also, the O's seem to love the idea of Danys Baez as a starter (for whatever reason, they just seem to love the idea of Danys Baez....).

I think Looper would be a good pick up but I think that getting Hill means no Looper. Also, don't sell Liz short. He made the most improvement of the AAA call ups last year and word is the guy has tremendous desire.

Gomez can play 1B so I don't see them keeping a 1 demensional guy just to back up Huff. I really would like to see Salazar stick but he would need regular ABs to be anything other than Ramon Hernandez lite.

I am going to make a bold prediction that Wieters makes the team out of spring (a la Eddie Murray) and Zaun gets the honorary Chico Salmon seat cushion.

TOMD - I am going to predict that Wieters has a strong spring training but starts the year in Norfolk anyway. The reasons are as much to do with letting him get the experience with calling the game and working with the pitchers there as for anything else. I also predict that he is in Baltimore no later than immediately following the AAA All-Star Game in mid-July. Assuming Zaun stays healthy and performs as expected, there's not a lot of advantage to having Wieters in Baltimore. Now, if by some weird confluence of planetary alignment and just plain freaky stuff happening the Orioles are actually contending at the end of May and show the potential to continue to do so, then all bets are off. But if they aren't going to win anyway, then they might as well consider the best scenario for the next five years instead of the next five months.

As to players with potential, the Orioles also considered Penn untouchable because of potential. Which is also cautionary for those assuming any three pitchers currently in the minors are going to all arrive about the same time and turn into the next Kiddie Korps of 20 game winners.

Pete - I assume you can tell by the user ID info that I am not the same Jack that has earned the disdain of posters on at least two different blogs on two different sites? I hate to change my perfectly good user name because someone else with the same name is consistently making outlandish statements. Though I do reserve the right to say stupid things on my own now and then.

Pete's reply: Just sign at the bottom of the post "The other Jack."

There's going to be a lot of O's who come down with mysterious ailments the last two days of ST to wind up on the DL.

Hill would be a great pick up for Baltimore. Forget last year injuries and drop to the minors, this guy can pitch and I have seen him control the game on NL Central hitters numerous times.

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About Peter Schmuck
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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