Orioles: Who's on first
The Orioles have come to terms on a one-year deal with veteran first baseman Derrek Lee, which will solidify the club's batting order and infield defense if he is able to bounce back successfully from recent thumb surgery. If you want the particulars, Jeff Zrebiec's story is right here.
It should come as no surprise to anyone here that Lee was not my first choice to fill the run-production gap, but I would rather see him at first base than Luke Scott. Obviously, it would have been better if the Orioles had been able to convince Victor Martinez to come to Baltimore, but they came up short there and apparently weren't sold enough on Adam LaRoche to pull out all the stops to get him.
I agree with that part of the equation. I'm guessing Lee and LaRoche will have similar numbers in 2011, which would vindicate the decision to take the one-year deal with Lee and keep the team's options open for next winter. If he doesn't drive in 80 or 90 runs, however, it'll be viewed in the rear-view mirror as another cheap front office trick. In the meantime, everybody can go to town in the comments section.
It's hard to argue against the notion that the Orioles continue to spend as little as possible, though they did make a legitimate offer for Martinez. I'm pretty sure O's fans would have been happier heading into the new season with Adrian Beltre at third and Mark Reynolds at first, but I really don't know if signing Beltre was ever a real possibility. He didn't want to come here last year and there was no evidence of a change of heart this winter.
The bottom line: The Orioles are a lot sounder than they were last year, but it remains to be seen whether they will be dramatically more competitive. If 80 wins floats your boat, I suppose that's possible, but the O's will need the core of their pitching youth movement to take a big collective step forward to be a plus-.500 team with any kind of illusions about playing meaningful games in September.
My bad: I want to thank everyone for pointing out my brain cramp on "Cliff" Lee. Must have been wishful thinking on my part.