I woke up this morning and the Orioles still hadn’t signed any free agents.
I knew this process would drag along.
It’s been more than 24 hours since the market opened...and nothing.
Here’s that list again, in case you need a quick refresher.
The Orioles’ needs haven’t changed. A big bat for the middle of the order is their No. 1 priority - wherever it fits. That’s the obsession. And they can’t come up short this time.
They must address the holes at first and third base, which sounds awfully familiar.
Josh Bell isn’t going to compete for a job in spring training unless there’s a drastic shift in organizational thinking over these next few months. It’s believed that he needs more at-bats in Triple-A.
Adrian Beltre wasn’t a serious consideration last winter because he stated that he wanted to play on the West Coast, and he was seeking a multi-year deal at a time when the Orioles were concerned about blocking Bell. So he ends up in Boston for one year. Go figure.
He’s back on the table, and I’d expect the Orioles to make a run at him.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla turned down a four-year, $48 million extension.
I don’t think we’ll hear his name connected to the Orioles this winter, as we did last year. He still doesn’t want to play third base and he’s a free agent after the 2011 season. Maybe we can finally put that one to bed.
As for the other corner, Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche, Victor Martinez, Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee and Lance Berkman are six names you’ll be hearing in connection with the Orioles. You can probably toss Carlos Pena in the mix. But there’s a downside to all of them.
As I’ve said before, I want Dunn and those 40 home runs. I’ll shield my eyes each time a ground ball is hit to him. He can DH here and there. It won’t kill him. And make sure there’s an adequate defensive replacement for the late innings of tight games.
The Orioles will take a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, though he’s not as high on the list. The Yankees have contacted Cliff Lee’s agent (and so it begins...) and the Orioles aren’t going to pony up the kind of money that it takes to sign him.
I’d still go after Lee and make him turn me down - I’ve had lots of practice at being rejected - but president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail has a strong aversion to driving up the market and making token offers that only give the appearance of trying to appease a restless fan base.
I’d put on a show, but that’s just me. I’d go after these free agents with everything I’ve got. The Orioles should be an easier sell this winter. They need to make a dynamic move. Throw around some money. Package a young starter if a trade proves to be the best avenue. Beef up the lineup. Gets fans excited about more than the person sitting in the manager’s office and the improvements in the rotation over the last few months of the season.
Also, look for more changes in the bullpen. And the Orioles will be in the market for a shortstop unless they can re-sign Cesar Izturis.
If I’m placing a bet here - and I’d never, ever do that - I’d say that Izturis returns to the Orioles. As I’ve written, Buck Showalter wants to hold onto him, and his opinion carries a lot of weight around here.
If you’re trying to keep score at home, the Orioles have 34 players on their 40-man roster after adding reliever Jim Hoey over the weekend. The free agents come off the list.
Pedro Florimon Jr.