Showalter on Hardy, Lindstrom, Saunders and trades

Orioles manager Buck Showalter filled in for Dave Johnson yesterday as one of the co-hosts of “Wall to Wall Baseball” on MASN.

He passed the audition.

In case you missed it, I asked Showalter whether the Orioles would have to be overwhelmed by an offer in order to trade shortstop J.J. Hardy, who’s coveted by the Detroit Tigers.

“What’s the word above overwhelmed? Stunned?” he said.

Hardy Fields Black tall.jpg“I like J.J. He’s pretty good and he’s going to have a big offensive year for us this year, I think. I actually thought he had a pure better defensive year the year before and should have gotten the Gold Glove then, but this year he was rewarded properly.”

Hardy was recognized for his outstanding defense, but he hit .238/.282/.389 in 158 games. He batted second in 150 of those games, staying near the top of the order despite his struggles at the plate.

“I would like to get J.J. out of the two hole. I would,” Showalter said. “I think it kind of takes away from his strengths, but it may not happen. We just didn’t have anybody else who could bring what he brought. We’ll see. We’ll see if we do it or not. There are a lot of things we have to shake out in spring training.”

If Brian Roberts is healthy and atop the order, Showalter could bat Nate McLouth or Nick Markakis second. Maybe Roberts drops down to second. We have a long way to go before determining the order.

As for the bullpen, the Orioles retain some interest in Matt Lindstrom, who went 1-0 with a 2.72 ERA in 34 games before being traded to the Diamondbacks on Aug. 26 for left-hander Joe Saunders. Lindstrom’s agent initially contacted the Orioles and the two sides continue to talk.

“Matt liked it here and we liked him and we were able to get something we needed through him,” Showalter said. “I know Dan (Duquette) and them are still talking and we’ll see how that works out. He had a good year last year all the way around and I’m sure he’s going to have some offers to pick from.”

Duquette also has maintained a dialogue with Saunders’ agent.

“We like Joe,” Showalter said. “We traded for Joe and we’d like to keep him. It’s another one of those things where you said what his agent was looking for, compared to what our guys feel comfortable with to ensure that we can continue to do the things we need to do. There’s some separation there, but hopefully we can get closer. We’d like to have him on our staff. Everybody likes him.”

Asked about the Orioles’ level of interest in Washington Nationals first baseman Michael Morse, Showalter replied, “We’ve kicked the tires on all of them. We do. We go, ‘Yeah, we could get this guy, for instance, and we’d have to give up (Manny) Machado and (Jonathan) Schoop and (Dylan) Bundy.’ Well, of course you wouldn’t do that. Those types of things.

“We kind of know who we are and who we’re not. We spent well over $20 million to keep our players. Jim Johnson is going to be somewhere around $5 or $6 million in arbitration, and bless his heart, he earned every bit. We’ve got a lot of guys jumping up in arbitration, and instead of letting them walk. ... I think our payroll’s going to be over $90 (million), maybe more than that.

“I know from talking to Peter (Angelos), if there’s a deal there that everybody thinks works, we’re going to go. Nobody’s scared here. Nobody’s afraid to make a deal here. Trust me. Trust me. It’s just, we’ve got to get the right one.

“We have conversations every day. I’d like to say, ‘Hey, here’s what we talked about today. Weigh in on that.’ Ninety-nine percent of it, you would go, ‘Of course you wouldn’t do that.’ You’ve got to get cooperation.”

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