Are the Orioles almost done?

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are playing the New York Mets today in a noon game at Ed Smith Stadium that wraps up their exhibition schedule. They're also expected to make their final roster decision - Steve Pearce or Conor Jackson.

Pearce would appear to be the favorite, and not just because he's taking home the Jake Fox trophy.

It seemed as though the Orioles were done conducting business yesterday afternoon, but they signed pitcher Freddy Garcia and traded for reliever Scott Proctor before dinner arrived.

This is not a youth movement.

My first reaction was, "Freddy Garcia? Is he going to room with Joel Pineiro?"

Upon further review, it's another one of those low-risk signings where the Orioles could catch lightning in a bottle or they could just release the guy. Catch and release. Sort of like the Dontrelle Willis/Miguel Tejada/Jamie Moyer experiments last summer.

None of those guys made it to Baltimore, but executive vice president Dan Duquette figured they were worth a look.

The Orioles figured that Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland and last year's Rule 5, Ryan Flaherty, were worth keeping on their opening day roster. They were informed after yesterday's game against State College of Florida that they had made the team.

I asked a scout from another organization for his opinion of both players. Here's what he told me:

On Flaherty: "Every time I saw him, he hit the ball well. They moved him all over the field and he looked comfortable anywhere they put him. He looks like a big leaguer this year, where as last year, he looked like he was a minor league guy who just got stuck on the roster. But once the season started, he held his own all year. This year, he looks like a big leaguer in the batter's box and in the field. Every time someone said he's not making the roster, it surprised me. I thought he was a lock since Day One."

On McFarland: "I saw him pitch three innings in a game when there were no hits and seven ground balls. He doesn't have anything over the top in terms of stuff-wise, but he's got a good sinking fastball from the left side, and he's a little funky with his delivery. He hides the ball well and he kept it down and worked fast and got ground ball, ground ball, ground ball. Things like that open your eyes, when you see a kid make it look easy. He doesn't have swing-and-miss stuff, but he's got the kind of stuff that gets guys out. When you throw a good sinker and you keep it down in the zone, it's hard for hitters to do much with it."

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