Filling out the rotation

I'm always entertained by the trade speculation that builds during the last week of July.

B.J. Upton isn't included in the Rays' lineup last night, a few Nationals regulars take a seat on the bench, and it's assumed that the two clubs are on the verge of finalizing a deal.

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Maybe it will happen, but Upton was spotted in the trainers room and manager Joe Maddon told reporters that the center fielder was a little "beat up."

I'm starting to get punchy.

I hear it's Edwin Jackson's goal to also be traded to half the teams in the Frontier League. By 2013.

Best of luck, Edwin.

Brad Bergesen is starting tonight's series finale in Toronto unless his wife, Shea, goes into labor. She's due to give birth this week.

(Quick: Come up with a birthing joke related to the Orioles. You've got 60 seconds.)

Jeremy Guthrie will be working on normal rest Friday night when the Orioles begin a four-game series in New York - unless he's traded, of course. Manager Buck Showalter indicated that left-hander Zach Britton will be recalled and start Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader. Jake Arrieta will take the ball on Sunday unless the bruise on his right foot suddenly becomes an issue.

We don't know who will pitch Game 1 on Saturday. We don't know how the rotation will look once we get past the non-waiver trade deadline and once the Orioles need a fifth starter.

I know that some fans have criticized the decision to bring back Britton - try saying that three times fast - after he gave up eight runs (four earned) in the fifth inning Monday night at Double-A Bowie, but the way I see it, we've entered evaluation mode again over the next few months.

It's a Baltimore tradition. The Orioles are sellers at the deadline, and we all stretch our necks so we can look ahead to the following season.

Well, Britton needs to continue getting acclimated to major league hitters in major league ballparks. He needs more exposure to the American League East. He needs to keep pitching here until he reaches his innings limit and the Orioles shut him down.

If he strings together a bunch of outings similar to his last one with the Orioles, when he was battered over two-thirds of an inning in Boston, then you rescue him. But would you rather watch a succession of minor league free agents and 4A types? Would you rather summon the spirits of Victor Zambrano and Victor Santos?

Turns out, you really can spell "victory" without "Victor."

I'll take Britton and Chris Tillman. I'll take Brian Matusz if he's stronger and more confident and more comfortable with his mechanics and better able to hold runners.

Run the kids out there. Either give me reason to feel more optimistic about the rotation in 2012 or confirm suspicions that more than one veteran needs to be added over the winter.

Free-agent starters won't sign here? Then work a trade or two for pitchers who can't stiff-arm the organization.

Just spare us the minor league journeymen and 4A types.

Watching them labor has been a pain. (Was that 60 seconds?)

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