It wouldn't be the holidays without a movie classic and its endless sequels.
On this day, I'm thankful for my family and friends, my loyal readers, a paycheck every two weeks, GNC, Biceps Day, YouTube, the RedZone Channel, "Modern Family" reruns, "Anchorman 2," expired restraining orders, dirty martinis, front-close bras, Liberatore's wine-tasting dinners and "Because You Asked."
With three NFL games today, I may as well get in the spirit and tackle the same questions that keep coming at me like blitzing linebackers. Just don't lead with your helmet.
Are the Orioles going to make a big move this offseason?
I don't know of any local beat writers who predicted big spending and bold moves from the Orioles this winter. Maybe there's a trade in the works that will fill some holes and drop a few jaws. I just don't see how they can address their need for a frontline starting pitcher through free agency, and not only because they don't want to give out four- and five-year deals. Matt Garza is a tough sell for a lot of people in baseball, given his contract demands. I heard the same about Ricky Nolasco before he reportedly agreed to a four-year, $49 million contract with the Twins that includes a $13 million option. I predict buyer's remorse - not to be confused with Michael Morse. The Orioles should have made an aggressive play for Tim Hudson. The Giants got him for $23 million over two years. I would have offered $24 million. Worth it to me, and to a few others who share the same opinion. Otherwise, as I keep hearing, "Who's out there?"
Do the Orioles know it's the offseason?
Word spreads quickly.
Any chance that the Orioles re-sign Scott Feldman?
Yes, there's a chance. I wondered whether he was in line for a four-year deal after Jason Vargas landed one in Kansas City, but I've talked to people who think he will accept a two-year deal with an option. The Orioles like Feldman. Some people in the organization like Vargas more, but not at four years. So, in conclusion, the Orioles are interested in retaining Feldman and he'd like to stay in Baltimore. We'll see.
What's going on with second base?
You're not the only one posing that question. There are people in the industry who are puzzled by the Orioles' approach, which right now consists of signing Cord Phelps and, eventually, Ivan De Jesus Jr. I'll say it again: Brian Roberts re-signs if his idea of a hometown discount matches the Orioles' idea of one.
Why don't you mention Jonathan Schoop as a possibility?
Obviously, he'll be tossed in the mix if the Orioles don't re-sign Roberts or add anyone else, but there's no reason to think he's ready to be the opening day second baseman. Based on what? He missed significant time this year with a lower back fracture. He didn't exactly tear up the Arizona Fall League. What's the rush? Let him heat up in Triple-A and bring him up later in the summer.
Any thoughts on the report that Michael Young's agent reached out to the Orioles?
I think Young is looking for a job and has a few preferences. He played for Buck Showalter in Texas. And, you know, he's looking for a job. His power is in serious decline, but he's a lifetime .300 hitter with a .346 on-base percentage. He could provide insurance at third base if Manny Machado isn't ready on opening day. And there's no way to project in November that Machado will be ready. It's just wishful thinking at this point. But it's important to note that, according to the report, Young's agent contacted the Orioles. Not the other way around.
When is FanFest?
I've posted it at least three times and it hasn't changed. Feb. 1 at the Convention Center. Not sure why it's later than usual. Maybe that's the only Saturday that the facility was available. Or the Orioles are giving executive vice president Dan Duquettte an extra week or two to add a big-name player to the autograph table.
White meat or dark?
We're talking about turkey, right?
Sigh. Do you prefer white or dark turkey meat?
I tend to gravitate toward the white meat, but I need lots of gravy. I guess that would be "gravytate." Dark meat is moister, but it also has more fat and calories. White meat is considered healthier. However, since I'm pouring gravy on it - and I only do so with turkey - I guess it's a wash. So, in conclusion, I'll probably go for the white meat. If you wondered about chicken, I'm more of a wing man. Same with bars.
Do you have a favorite side?
My right. Though I sleep on the left side of the bed.
Side dish. Do you have a favorite side dish?
Mashed potatoes, and it doesn't have to be the holidays. But I try to avoid them as much as possible. A minute on the lips ... And folks, keep your homemade cranberry sauce. If it doesn't jiggle and retain the shape of the can, I'm not going to eat it.
Are you one of those people who gets depressed around the holidays?
Big-time. I want to fall asleep and wake up on Jan. 2.
Need a hug?
Can you send a photo?
Never mind. Any updates on Dylan Bundy?
There would be an enormous void in my life if I didn't receive this question at least once a week. He was cleared to play catch at the end of this month. His throwing program begins in early January. He could still make it to Baltimore at some point in the second half of the season. Depends whether he avoids setbacks and if he's effective. But the important point here is he's right on schedule. And, like Schoop, there's no reason to rush him.
Why don't the Orioles spend more money?
You can keep asking it, but I don't have an answer for you. They seem to spend generously on their own players. MLBTradeRumors.com estimates that the nine arbitration-eligible Orioles will cost about $42.4 million. Otherwise, I haven't seen the books and I've never been told of an exact budget. Manager Buck Showalter says he's never been turned down when going to ownership with a request. Duquette stated again over the summer that he was given the green light to increase payroll in an attempt to get the Orioles back in the playoffs. That's all I can go by here. I'm considered an insider, but I'm not inside every office in the warehouse. And again, I can't tap the phone lines. I can, however, whistle a tune.
Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?
Because I cover Orioles.
Any chance that they trade Jim Johnson?
There's always a chance. I'll stress again that no player in the organization is untouchable. Not Johnson, not J.J. Hardy, not Matt Wieters, not Steve Clevenger. I keep writing it, and people keep getting stirred up by reports that the Orioles are listening to offers. But willing to trade isn't the same as shopping a player. It just means that the Orioles will listen. On any player. Not everyone in the organization is convinced that Johnson will be on the opening day roster next year. Duquette has stated twice that Johnson will be tendered a contract, and yet, the closer's projected $10 million salary hangs heavy in the air. I'm not placing odds, but I'd be less shocked if Johnson were dealt than Hardy or Wieters. For reasons already stated. It could happen.
Will the Orioles select another player in the Rule 5 draft?
Most likely. They keep doing it and they figure to have an opening on the 40-man roster. Anyone care to research the last team to carry a Rule 5 player throughout back-to-back seasons, as the Orioles did with Ryan Flaherty and T.J. McFarland? How about in the American League East? Let me know what you find out.
Is there a real possibility that the Orioles will sign Tomo Ohka?
Quite real. Earlier this week, I passed along a report from Japan that the Orioles were interested in Ohka, and I can't find anyone who disputes it. He's Japanese. He's a converted knuckleballer. He has ties to Duquette. It's the perfect storm. Stay tuned.
Do you have a Hall of Fame vote?
Yes. I've been eligible the past few years. And yes, I think Mike Mussina belongs in Cooperstown, though I only came to that conclusion after his final season. I was on the fence. But he may not get my vote on the 2014 ballot. Just too many other worthy candidates, and there's a 10-player limit.
Why is Armando Benitez on the ballot?
Because he's eligible and someone has a wicked sense of humor. Actually, a screening committee nominates players for the ballot. The same people who screened "From Justin to Kelly" and considered it Oscar-worthy. Benitez won't receive the necessary 5 percent of the votes to remain on the ballot. He had a decent career, and he touched off an epic brawl, but that's it.
What does Benitez order at TGI Fridays?
Do you expect everyone to get that joke?
I'll let the market play out and see who's left.