Orioles lineup remains unsettled

Let's get this one out of the way first:

Giants 27, Patriots 24. Victor Cruz is MVP. And the Ravens are still the best team in the AFC.

Judging by the 310 comments I've received on yesterday's Manny Ramirez entry, it appears that the majority of readers here don't want the Orioles to sign him. It's an unscientific poll, but that's telling.

According to MLBTradeRumor's free-agent chart, there are four first basemen still on the market:

Russell Branyan (36)
Ross Gload (36)
Derrek Lee (36)
Xavier Nady (33)

There are five designated hitters:

Milton Bradley (34)
Johnny Damon (37)
Vladimir Guerrero (37)
Hideki Matsui (38)
Manny Ramirez (39)

What the heck, sign Lee and work him into the first base/DH rotation, then trade him at the non-waiver deadline for another mid-level prospect.

First baseman Aaron Baker, acquired from the Pirates last summer for Lee, could join first baseman Tyler Townsend at Double-A Bowie. Baker also can play left field. And yes, they have a DH in the Eastern League.

Damon remains a DH option for the Orioles. He also could bat leadoff. And no, signing another aging veteran on the downside to a one-year deal isn't the ideal situation for a rebuilding club, but he'd serve a purpose.

Where else are the Orioles going to find another bat? Maybe there's a trade quietly in the works. They're interested enough in Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to continue scouting him. But how much money do they want to throw at a 26-year-old who's never played in the majors and could end up at Double-A or Triple-A?

This lineup is still lacking an obvious leadoff and No. 4 hitter unless Brian Roberts is healthy. Then it's missing an obvious No. 4 hitter.

Is it Mark Reynolds? Cleanup hitters tend to strike out a lot. He wouldn't be alone. Adam Jones? Matt Wieters? Chris Davis?

It isn't Endy Chavez or Ryan Flaherty.

I know that J.J. Hardy doesn't want to be the leadoff hitter and manager Buck Showalter doesn't want him to be the leadoff hitter, but I've decided that he should be the leadoff hitter if Roberts can't play. I'm perfectly fine with Hardy giving the Orioles a quick lead to start the game. He doesn't have to steal bases and be the prototypical table-setter. There's no pressure to perform those duties, so I don't know why he's adverse to doing it.

Nobody on this club besides Roberts steals bases anyway.

Otherwise, go ahead and make Nolan Reimold the leadoff hitter if he's the regular left fielder. He's got deceptive speed. Nobody runs harder out of the box. And like Hardy, he can provide a quick lead in the first inning.

I know some fans like the idea of putting Nick Markakis atop the order. At this point, I'd take it. And Showalter could choose Chavez or Wilson Betemit if they're in the lineup.

It doesn't really matter after you go through the order once, but somebody has to lead off the first inning and somebody has to bat fourth. It's in the rules.

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