Quick chat with MacPhail

Major League Baseball announced its Silver Slugger Award winners. No Orioles on the list, but congrats to Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

American League:
1B - Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
2B - Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays
3B - Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
SS - Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
OF - Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners
OF - Jason Bay, Boston Red Sox
OF - Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels
C - Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
DH - Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays

National League:
1B - Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
2B - Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
3B - Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
SS - Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins
OF - Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
OF - Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers
OF - Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
C - Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves
P - Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs

Andy MacPhail called me tonight during a short break in his meetings with his pro scouting department in Arizona.

“We will have guys who covered pro organizations go through all of them,” MacPhail said. “We’ll talk a little about our club initially - where we made progress, where we didn’t, where we think we have needs going forward. Then when they talk about their organizations, we’ll discuss whether we think there’s anything there that we’d need in free agency or trade.

“We’ll go through a list of guys who we believe will be available and stack them, prioritize them, and that will guide us over the course of the off-season.”

MacPhail said he met with “several” team executives during the general manager meetings in Chicago, but he wouldn’t go into specifics.

“It wasn’t as many as in years past because we didn’t have as much time,” he said. “There were a lot of informal conversations, and then you make sure different members of your organization touch base with different teams and try to cover the landscape. But the formal meetings were in the ‘several’ category.”

MacPhail said it’s possible that the Orioles could swing a deal before the winter meetings that begin Dec. 7 in Indianapolis, though many teams try to fill their needs through free agency first so they don’t have to surrender any players.

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” he said. “I don’t feel like we’re close, but I wouldn’t eliminate the fact that we could conceivably do something before then.”

The options at third base are plentiful, so the Orioles should be able to find a replacement for Melvin Mora without rushing Josh Bell.

“Other clubs are looking, too, so I don’t know how it will all play out,” MacPhail said. “But I’m relatively confident we’ll be able to do something there.”

I’m getting the sense that the Orioles would prefer someone who’s played third base in the majors and isn’t such an uncertainty with the leather. That wouldn’t put Dan Uggla on top of their wish list, with so many experienced players available through free agency or trade.

Also, I asked for a clarification on MacPhail’s stance against surrendering his top young pitchers. He’d rather not dip into his surplus, but he added: “Let’s say you had to trade a young starting pitcher for what you thought was the next Brooks Robinson, and you’d have him just as long and that guy would be out there 162 games a year. I think you’d have to consider it.”

He agreed that the club has its untouchables, though we didn’t discuss names, but I don’t think the list is as long as first believed. But again, it would have to be someone special who would be under their control for an extended period. And at the right cost.

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