Countdown to Indy

We learned one thing about Ravens rookie linebacker Paul Kruger last night: He has tight end hands.

That wasn't an easy pick, and it might have saved the Ravens' season.

If I'm Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, I'm pulling Hines Ward aside this morning, slamming his head with a 2-by-4 and asking whether he'll start on Sunday.

The countdown to the winter meetings has officially started for me. I fly to Indianapolis on Sunday, which means I must check-in online exactly 24 hours before my Southwest flight is scheduled to depart or risk being crammed into a middle seat with the other C group losers.

Has anyone reading this blog visited Indianapolis in early December? I'm just wondering what I should pack.

I'll leave the swim trunks at home.

Actually, we're usually so busy at these meetings that we never step outside until the last night. We'd hate to miss Scott Boras holding court by the elevators. That would be tragic.

I won't feel the need to stalk him as much this winter, since he isn't shopping Mark Teixeira again. The Orioles aren't in play for Matt Holliday, and I'm not breaking a sweat for Adrian Beltre and Mike Gonzalez.

I'm not even sure where I'm staying. MLB reserved a block of rooms at two hotels, and I was shut out. I might be sleeping on a park bench.

Don't they know who I am?

It appears that one rumor has been put to rest. Marlins officials are strongly denying that Josh Johnson is on the trading block. But there will be plenty more to chase.

Remember all the Jake Peavy talk in Las Vegas? The Orioles were dragged into that mess as part of a supposed three-way deal with the Padres and Cubs, except it never happened.

Speaking of which: The Cubs are trying to acquire a left-handed hitting center fielder. Didn't they used to have Felix Pie?

The Orioles' shopping list hasn't changed, and you probably have it memorized by now. A veteran frontline starting pitcher, a closer, a third baseman, a first baseman. They want to plug a big bat in the middle of the order.

The 40-man roster is down to 39, so there's room to add a player in the Rule 5 draft or to re-sign left-hander Mark Hendrickson, which could happen later this month.

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