As the Orioles continue to pursue starting pitchers, with two of their targets being Taiwanese left-hander Chen Wei-Yin and free-agent lefty Joe Saunders, I wonder whether a trade is in the works.
Otherwise, the Orioles might be going with a 10-man rotation.
I can immediately rattle off five starters: Jeremy Guthrie, Tsuyoshi Wada, Tommy Hunter, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton. Then I’m reminded that the Orioles traded for left-hander Dana Eveland at the Winter Meetings. He’s supposed to be a starter.
Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen also will compete for spots. Remember them?
Bergesen is out of minor league options and could end up working in long relief. It won’t be a surprise if Matusz and Tillman are part of Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation in April.
Could it be any more apparent that Jim Johnson will remain in the bullpen?
And what about that ‘pen? Who are the seven relievers?
Assuming that no other relievers are added to the 40-man roster, you can reserve spots for Johnson and Kevin Gregg. That’s two.
I’ll also save a place for Pedro Strop, who allowed one run in 12 1/3 innings with the Orioles, walking three and striking out 12. He’ll have to earn it in spring training. I’m writing his name in pencil.
If the Orioles can afford the luxury of a lefty specialist, Clay Rapada would be a nice weapon in the ‘pen. Left-handed hitters are 6-for-67 against him over the last two seasons. Right-handers were 9-for-13 against him in 2011. Hence, the term “lefty specialist.”
Left-handed hitters were 2-for-20 against southpaw Zach Phillips, who allowed only one of 13 inherited runners to score. He has to enter the conversation.
Bergesen, Jason Berken and left-hander Troy Patton are long-relief candidates. And don’t forget about Alfredo Simon and submarine-stylist Darren O’Day, who also figure to compete for spots.
It’s been days since I wrote about Prince Fielder, so here you go:
I was told again yesterday that there’s no way the Orioles will go eight-plus years at $20-plus million for Fielder. They’ll take the 37 home runs that Mark Reynolds provides at first base for the low, low price of $7.5 million.
The Orioles also are leery of being used as “leverage” for a team like the Washington Nationals.
Are they “in” on Fielder? Well, they’re not “out,” but ... you know the rest.
A few other notes:
The Orioles are expected to retain most of their minor league managers, including Gary Kendall at Double-A Bowie, Orlando Gomez at Single-A Frederick, Ryan Minor at Single-A Delmarva and Gary Allenson, who moves from Triple-A Norfolk to short-season Single-A Aberdeen. Former Red Sox first base coach Ron Johnson will manage the Tides.
Minor is scheduled to appear at the Shorebirds’ annual Hot Stove Banquet on Jan. 28, so that’s a pretty good sign that he’s staying in the organization.
And finally, former Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora has retired after 13 seasons, according to multiple reports. The Diamondbacks released him in June.
Mora was one of the most interesting characters that I’ve covered on the Orioles beat. Some teammates loved him, others thought he milked injuries and was soft. He frustrated some managers, but also gained their respect by changing positions to suit the club’s needs.
He also was one of the most animated storytellers who ever played the game. I’d watch from a distance as he stood at his locker in spring training and entertained small groups of young Latin players whose chairs formed a circle around him, his eyes widening and his arms flailing. His expressions and gestures were priceless.
He might not have always been a “gamer,” and his day-to-day status had a tendency to stretch into weeks and wear thin with certain managers, but I respected how his career unfolded over the years as he shed the utility label that he wore with the Mets. And I appreciated that he continued to live in Bel Air after leaving the Orioles.
There also was a certain innocence with Mora that I found endearing.
My lasting memory will be a conversation we had regarding his wife’s pregnancy. Gisel was due to give birth to quintuplets, and Mora explained that she had taken “special vitamins” from a doctor in Venezuela.
“Fertility drugs?” I asked.
“No. Just these special vitamins,” Mora replied.
I checked with Gisel, who confirmed that they were fertility drugs.
Too late. I had already cancelled my doctor’s appointment in Venezuela.