I checked my home insurance policy and I'm not covered for an avalanche of questions from Orioles fans. I'll just have to take my chances and live dangerously.
The hot stove increases my risks, and not only because I could get burned if I'm out of touch with it (see what I did there?).
I'm asked to confirm or shoot down various rumors. I'm asked for status updates on negotiations. I'm asked the same stuff over and over. I take so many deep breaths, I get lightheaded.
For those reasons, I present another sequel to "Because You Asked," which may have pushed me past all the "Police Academy" movies.
Have you heard anything about J.J. Hardy going to the Cardinals?
Executive vice president Dan Duquette met with the Cardinals during the GM meetings in Orlando. Not the entire team, of course. The room wasn't that big. Anyway, it wasn't unexpected because the Orioles need pitching and the Cardinals need a shortstop. But it's not like the Orioles were trying to move Hardy or were ready to pull the trigger on a trade. Just preliminary talks. The Orioles are trying to get a pitcher and keep Hardy, and that's what will happen. Somehow, somewhere, they will add a starting pitcher and Hardy will jog down the orange carpet on opening day.
Will the Orioles trade Matt Wieters?
My guess is Wieters will be behind the plate on opening day, but the chances are better that he's dealt than Hardy. At least that's how it appears on this date. The Orioles are trying to gauge whether Wieters wants to sign an extension or if he's determined to test free agency. And they're trying to figure out how to fit all these raises in their budget among their arbitration-eligible players while also pursuing a free agent such as outfielder Carlos Beltran. And how much do the Orioles want to pay Wieters coming off a season when he batted .235 with a .287 on-base percentage? He's not untouchable. The Orioles are "willing" to trade him, but it's not like they're feverishly shopping him.
Any updates on Nate McLouth?
Nope. We're at the same point here. The Orioles want to re-sign him, but they've been concerned about other clubs offering two-year deals. They'd rather avoid the two-year, $10 million projection from MLBTradeRumors.com. I ran those figures past someone in the organization late in the season, and he responded, "Well, he won't be getting that from us." We'll see.
Would you give him a two-year deal?
Yes. But the checks would bounce.
If you were the GM, would you give him a two-year deal?
Yes, but that doesn't mean I'd automatically project him as the starting left fielder. McLouth could be a valuable fourth outfielder, occasional DH, pinch-runner, defensive replacement. If it takes a two-year contract, do it. Wilson Betemit got a two-year deal. I'd do the same for McLouth and be perfectly fine with starting him against right-handers and taking advantage of his tools.
Will the Orioles sign Carlos Beltran?
I still haven't found a reliable crystal ball, but they would have to outbid some big spenders, which isn't a common occurrence here. They definitely like him. They see him as a great fit. He could play some outfield and DH. He has a career .359 on-base percentage. The Orioles ranked 19th in the majors this year with a .313 OBP. He's a career .333/.445/.683 hitter with 16 home runs and 40 RBIs in 51 playoff games. So yes, he's a desirable target in free agency. We'll see.
If Dom Chiti is such a great scout, why didn't the Orioles just hire him as one?
Because Chiti - and folks, it's pronounced Cheat-E - wouldn't have left the Braves' front office for a scouting position with the Orioles. They should be praised, not questioned, for hiring a guy who they view as an outstanding instructor, but who also can offer valued opinions of players in both leagues and has numerous contacts in the Dominican Republic. Take advantage of those skills.
Any chance that Eduardo Rodriguez is in the majors next season?
Doubtful, unless he's part of the expanded September roster. He began the 2013 season at Single-A Frederick and hasn't pitched above Double-A. He's 20. He had a 4.22 ERA in 11 starts at Bowie and a 5.52 ERA in five starts with Surprise in the Arizona Fall League before tossing three scoreless innings yesterday in the championship game. He's got lots of pitchers ahead of him. If he's in the majors in the middle of next summer, it's probably bad news. Injuries and other atrocities would have to push him onto the staff. But he's a legit prospect. Be patient and let him continue to develop. Maybe a season split between Bowie and Norfolk. We'll see.
Think you can set the record for most times saying "We'll see?"
Any interest in Scott Kazmir?
Not my type.
Come on, man. Do the Orioles have any interest?
Yes, because their rotation is screaming for a guy who averaged less than six innings a start this season. But seriously folks... I talked to someone in the organization recently who steered me away from Kazmir, as if the Orioles have no interest. Yes to Tim Hudson, no to Kazmir. But the Boston Globe reported last week that Kazmir is high up on the Orioles' list of free-agent starters. I find that hard to swallow, but...
Something like that.
Do you think the Orioles will re-sign Brian Roberts?
It's a definite possibility, depending on the type of contract he's willing to accept. His definition of a hometown discount may differ from the Orioles', but it certainly could happen. And if not, Mark Ellis is on their radar. Pick your favorite 36-year-old second baseman.
Do the Orioles like Omar Infante?
Yes. Without question. But they may not want to give a three-year deal to a second baseman if Jonathan Schoop is projected as the eventual starter. Ellis makes more sense if Roberts isn't brought back.
Since everyone is doing it on Facebook, would you list five things most people don't know about you?
1. I have a paralyzing fear of heights. Not planes or staying in hotel rooms on the top floor, but any situation where there's even a remote chance of falling.
2. Mice freak me out.
3. I owned three gerbils as a kid. Nothing weird. Just owned them. And eventually was grossed out by them because they reminded me of mice.
4. One year in either middle or high school, I signed all my work papers "R. Eric Kubatko" because I got tired of having "Roch" mispronounced and enduring the occasional teasing.
5. I can't tie a necktie or shift gears. I only get teased about that 14 times a day, so it's gone down.
Any chance the Orioles trade Jim Johnson?
That's worth a future blog entry, though it's not like I'd be able to provide a definitive answer. Duquette told reporters late in the season that Johnson would be tendered a contract and remain the closer. Not like it's etched in stone, but that seems to be the plan. But a trade is worth debating. His salary could jump to $10 million in 2014. That's a lot for a closer, even one with 101 saves in the last two seasons. And if the Orioles want to shed some payroll in order to add a player such as Beltran, well, that's one way to go about it. But let's not bang the "it's easy to find a closer" drum too loudly. Or need I recite the roll call of failed closers in Baltimore? If so, warn me ahead of time so I can sip hot tea with lemon and prepare my throat.
Who voted Chris Davis seventh in the AL MVP voting?
Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune.
Know where I can buy a pitchfork and torch?
Home Depot. Wait, what?