Izzy the answer at short?

I'm savoring my last morning before my daughter starts school. That means staying in bed past 6:30 a.m. and not trying to pack a lunch while half asleep.

Tomorrow starts a whole new routine for me, so you'll see blog comments approved and entries filed a lot earlier. I suppose that's a good thing.

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How nasty was Michael Gonzalez's slider yesterday? Bobby Abreu had no chance at the last one.

I just wish Gonzalez could avoid falling into the third base dugout on every pitch. If I'm a batter, I'm just laying down bunts in front of the mound or slightly to the right of it. Gonzalez is in no position to field the ball. But if there's a pop up near the first row of seats beyond the left field line, he's all over it.

Of all the changes we've seen since Buck Showalter took over, one of the most obvious and welcomed is his willingness to let his starting pitchers go deeper in games. Jeremy Guthrie was allowed to start the ninth yesterday. Kevin Millwood would have done the same Saturday night if Showalter didn't want to give Jim Johnson an inning.

We'll find out in 2011 if the bullpen responds more favorably, if relievers are fresher and fewer games are lost because someone dropped the baton. Of course, the starters need to cooperate by keeping Showalter in the dugout in the early innings. Can't give up six earned by the third and run your pitch count to 75.

I've noticed lots of chatter here regarding Cesar Izturis and whether the Orioles should try to re-sign him over the winter.

The all-field, no-hit label is a bit misleading. He went 4-for-10 in the Angels series, though the surge only raised his average to .235 and his OPS to .548.

It's more like not-much-hit.

Izturis provided a highlight reel of defensive plays. He just needs his second baseman to stop cutting him off.

With more offense around him this season, you wouldn't notice or care about his bat.

Exhibit A: Mark Belanger.

The Orioles don't have anyone on the farm who's a better option for 2011. You'll have to wait on Manny Machado.

Here's the list of pending free-agent shortstops:
Geoff Blum (38)
Orlando Cabrera (36)
Juan Castro (39)
Craig Counsell (40)
Alex Gonzalez (33)
Cristian Guzman (33)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (35)
Omar Infante (29)
Cesar Izturis (31)
Derek Jeter (37)
Julio Lugo (35)
Jhonny Peralta (29)
Nick Punto (33)
Edgar Renteria
Jose Reyes (28)
Juan Uribe (31)
Omar Vizquel (44)

I'm not including Miguel Tejada on the list, since he's widely viewed as a third baseman and the Orioles aren't bringing him back again. Yes, I can write it: That ship has sailed.

Jose Reyes probably jumps out at you. The Mets hold an $11 million club option.

Can anyone imagine Jeter leaving New York? Not me.

So do you push to re-sign Izturis, who is open to returning, and look for offensive upgrades elsewhere?

For the record, I'm looking for those upgrades no matter what happens to Izturis. I'm fine with Izzy at short for another season, but the offense needs a major boost to compete in the AL East. It's not all about pitching and defense.

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