Talking free agents and spring training

With word spreading through baseball that Cliff Lee will seek CC Sabathia money this winter, it becomes even less likely that the Orioles will make a run at him. And it was a long shot coming out of the gates.

We already know that the corner infield spots will garner the most attention, which sounds vaguely familiar. Didn’t we do this same dance last winter?

At least we can eliminate Garrett Atkins and Miguel Tejada from the discussion. And I won’t be fooled again by Joe Crede, who didn’t play a single inning. Neither did Carlos Delgado, though he came closer that Crede.

One of my dinner debates with friends and colleagues at Camden Yards involved Victor Martinez. I would have no problem putting him at first base despite his defensive shortcomings. I want his bat in the lineup, especially against lefties. He mashes them.

The guy’s hitting .301 against them lifetime, including .400 with a 1.173 OPS in 155 at-bats this season. He’s also a career .321 hitter against the Orioles. Bring him over to this side.

Here’s the issue: It sounds like he wants to catch rather than play first base, which is fairly unusual. Plenty of guys would be happy to ditch the tools of ignorance and be relieved of the physical grind.

The Orioles already have a catcher. Name is Matt Wieters. You might have heard of him.

The question is whether Martinez would settle for being the regular first baseman and a backup to Wieters, which would also be a fairly unusual arrangement. That would free up a roster spot.

I’ve heard Lance Berkman’s name come up a few times, but he’ll be 35 on Opening Day. Then again, so will Paul Konerko and Derrek Lee.

You look at the free-agent list and everyone seems to carry a little baggage, whether it’s age, sub-par defense (or atrocious if you’re coming from D.C.), a low batting average, health, declining stats, whatever. Take your pick.

Which guy currently on the market is a long-term solution? Which one is less likely to instantly give you buyer’s remorse if you offer a three-year deal? It’s not an attractive crop.

Too bad Brandon Snyder didn’t tear it up in Triple-A this year. That was the idea. Sign Atkins for one year and don’t block the prospect.

Perhaps a trade is still the way to go, though that opens up a separate debate. And again, you can’t deal for Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder without a contract extension. And again, you’d have to give up young pitching.

From what I’ve heard, Chris Tillman is the one member of the cavalry that the Orioles would be most willing to trade at the moment. They’re not looking to unload him and they haven’t given up on him. I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion. But they’d be OK with including him in a package.

Unfortunately, the rest of that package, at least for Gonzalez and Fielder, would almost certainly have to include another highly regarded arm.

Here’s a leftover from manager Buck Showalter, talking about spring training and how players move from one station to the next:

“We’ll do something and I’ll say, ‘Turn the clock off. That ain’t good enough.’ Forget how long we’re supposed to be at this station. That’s just raising the bar. It ain’t good enough to just say, ‘OK, we’ve done that. Now let’s move on to the next drill.’ Bull. All this stuff where they blow the horn and the 15-minute period is over? Forget that. We’ve got no where to go.”

In other words, do it until you get it right.

That’s what she...never mind.

I need to get to the bank before it closes. Be back later.

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