The impact of Boras on Britton

I’m not expecting much to happen this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Not that our heads have been spinning from all the activity up to this point.

We might get an announcement on the coaching staff, but how many times can I pull back the football and watch you flip in the air and land on your back before I start to feel the pangs of guilt?

The Pirates reportedly will hire Ray Searage as their pitching coach, so the Orioles won’t lose Rick Adair to them. The Mets named Terry Collins manager - it’s nice that they’ve also gone green and decided to recycle - so that’s the last team that the Orioles have to worry about.

I wanted to tackle one specific topic today that a few readers wrapped their arms around over the weekend: Whether Zach Britton’s new alliance with agent Scott Boras automatically means he’ll remain in the minors next season until the Orioles are certain that his arbitration clock won’t start ticking.

Catcher Matt Wieters is regarded as the poster child - not to be confused with SI cover boy - since the Orioles delayed his major league debut until May 29, 2009. Of course, Wieters wasn’t exactly tearing up the International League at the beginning of the season and didn’t deserve the call-up, but regardless, the timing was dubious.

Here’s my take on Britton (whose switch to Boras was reported last week by’s Steve Melewski): If he’s lights-out in spring training and the Orioles have a hole in their rotation, he’s going to fill it without any regard to Super 2 status, clocks ticking and Boras lighting cigars with $100 bills.

I will add, however, that I’ve never penciled Britton’s name into my 2011 Opening Day rotation. I’m not saying that he has not shot at making it, but we’re currently looking at a list that includes Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Rick VandenHurk (who’s out of options, which is important to remember.)

The Orioles would like to add a veteran starter, perhaps for the middle of the rotation, so that’s another body in the mosh pit.

We’re up to seven without Britton being mentioned.

Guthrie, Matusz and Arrieta look to be virtual locks barring a trade. Bergesen would have to pitch his way off the staff or shoot another commercial. Tillman could be packaged in a trade - he’s the most likely of the young arms - sent to Triple-A Norfolk or accompany the team to St. Petersburg for the opener.

My point is that Britton, who was shut down after Norfolk’s season ended, had a lot of hurdles in front of him before the Boras news. I pretty much anticipated that he’d spend at least a few months in Norfolk, no matter who represented him. How convenient.

We’ll see how it unfolds.

I won’t claim that Boras is one of Andy MacPhail’s favorites - they probably haven’t friended each other on Facebook - but the Orioles are willing to deal with him and have done so in the past if you check his client list. Wieters wouldn’t be setting a target for Britton if there was a major issue, and the Orioles wouldn’t have signed Michael Gonzalez or drafted shortstop Manny Machado.

Can you believe that Boras’ agency also represents Wynn Pelzer? The Orioles acquired the Double-A right-hander from San Diego in the Miguel Tejada trade.

Then again, they left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft.


Meanwhile, the National League will name its Most Valuable Player at 2 p.m. Feel free to submit your predictions. No penalty if you’re wrong.

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