I want to begin by wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year. Be careful if you’re driving later. The roads will be filled with amateurs.
I feel like I already rang in the New Year at Camden Yards each time a ball dropped in shallow left-center field.
If the Orioles add a starting pitcher as expected, they won’t necessarily shy away from a low-risk, high-reward type who’s coming off an injury. However, they’ll need to feel comfortable that he’s healthy and ready to compete for a job in spring training. They won’t take a flier on a guy who - and I’ll use Erik Bedard as an example last winter - might not be available until later in the summer. This individual would need to be full-go from the beginning.
Chasing the equivalent of Bedard would be pointless with manager Buck Showalter looking for more rotation depth when pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota in February.
I get the feeling from past conversations that Showalter views Rick VandenHurk more as a reliever and is considering six starters for five spots: Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Zach Britton. And he’s leery of Britton bringing absolutely no major league experience to the table.
The Orioles had internal discussions about Brandon Webb, but they weren’t going to give him the $3 million base salary that the Rangers handed over. Webb was throwing in the low 80s in the fall instructional league. There are serious questions about his health.
I’ve been asked about left-hander Chris Capuano, who won 18 games for the Brewers back in 2005. He made only nine starts among his 24 appearances this year after complaining of a sore arm in spring training and reporting to the Florida State League. He’s undergone Tommy John surgery twice, which is a rarity (I think Matt Riley’s also a two-timer.)
It doesn’t appear that the Orioles have much interest in him. Not that a list of their targets is circulating among the press. I’m just going by what I’ve heard in recent days.
One intriguing name is 6-foot-10 right-hander Chris Young, who went 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in only four starts with the Padres. Young was sidelined most of the year with a shoulder strain, so he’s another potential risk, though he made three of those starts in September and allowed two runs in 14 innings.
Young pitched for the Rangers when Showalter was manager and Mark Connor was bullpen coach. Showalter likes him a lot, but at what cost?
Again, the Orioles aren’t going to invest much in a base salary for a guy who made four starts this year. It depends what Young wants and whether the Orioles are convinced that his shoulder issues are in the past.
I’m hoping that the Orioles sign Young and Jon Rauch, and re-sign left-hander Mark Hendrickson. They’d have the best frontcourt in baseball.