What are the Orioles doing at DH?

Did the Yankees do anything at the Winter Meetings this year? I may have missed it.

I wonder how their fans reacted to the lack of news.

I also wonder if Rays fans are particularly excited about James Loney and Yunel Escobar.

I’m proud to announce that I pulled off the best trade of the Winter Meetings. I swapped my 7 p.m. flight out of Nashville last night for a 3:35 p.m. flight, arriving at the airport at the exact same time as executive vice president Dan Duquette.

Duquette will resume trade talks and try to find a bat for the middle of his lineup. That task didn’t end after he removed his shoes in the security line.

In the meantime, he’s convinced that the roster as it’s presently constructed is good enough for the Orioles to get back into the playoffs. He reminded reporters that manager Buck Showalter is fine with Chris Davis playing first base. I talked with one person in the organization who believes that Davis can be a plus-defender, and it’s up to the club to bring it out of him. That’s why you hire coaches and instructors. No excuses.

OK, fine. But what about designated hitter?

“We’ve got (Wilson) Betemit, who’s a good DH against right-handed pitching. Got over .500 slugging,” Duquette said yesterday. “And we’ve got (Danny) Valencia, who could be a good DH against left-handed pitching. He’s got a lifetime .316 average.”

Let’s be honest, that’s going to be a tough sell for fans. Better to find that middle-of-the-order hitter if at all possible. Not that Duquette can force teams to make trades. Rival executives have to place the same value on the Orioles’ young pitching as they do.

betemit-walk off-sidebar.jpgThe same member of the Orioles organization also believes that Betemit should be a better hitter from the right side and, yes, simply needs the instruction. His confidence may be shaken. He may be trying too hard to pull the ball from that side, which is a common issue.

Betemit hasn’t always been bad against left-handed pitching. In 2005, he hit .289/.372/.661 in 84 plate appearances. In 2010, he hit .312/.398/.532 in 88 plate appearances, compared to .291/.370/.503 in 227 plate appearances against right-handers. But the following year, he batted .236/.281/.326 in 96 plate appearances against left-handers, and .303/.365/.500 in 263 plate appearances against right-handers.

His splits with the Orioles this year suggested that he should never be allowed to bat right-handed. He hit .140/.219/.186 in 96 plate appearances from the right side, and .302/.357/.502 in 280 plate appearances from the left side.

For his career, Betemit is a .228/.285/.352 hitter from the right side, and a .281/.349/.474 hitter from the left side.

Valencia is a career .316/.359/.472 hitter against left-handers and a .232/.271/.355 hitter against right-handers, so yes, pairing them up screams platoon. But it’s just as likely that Valencia is starting at third base at Triple-A Norfolk in April and Betemit is used as a part-time DH and pinch hitter who can also fill in at third base and first base.

It would take an extreme situation for Betemit to return to third base. He won’t be the first choice.

Duquette is OK with having Betemit and Valencia as the designated hitters. I just don’t believe that’s his first choice, either. Let’s see what the next few months bring, and whether someone in this organization can improve Betemit’s splits.

Notes: The Brewers signed former Orioles pitcher Chris Jakubauskas to a minor league deal, according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. Jakubauskas spent the 2012 season in the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays farm systems.

Also, the Orioles aren’t raising prices for their season-ticket holders next season, according to a friend of mine who owns one of the plans. The club sent out e-mails.

This year’s run to the playoffs led some fans to wonder if prices would go up. They’ll remain the same.

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