More leftovers for breakfast

Because I care so much about your early morning nutrition, I'm heating up more leftovers for breakfast. Use your napkin or sleeve. We're not fussy here.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette explained yesterday why the Orioles chose to purchase the contracts of pitchers Tim Berry and Eddie Gamboa, and catcher Michael Ohlman, and protect them in next month's Rule 5 draft.

"Tim Berry's got a chance to be a left-handed starter in the big leagues and he had a terrific year," Duquette said. "He improved all of his pitches, his command. He got bigger. And he looked real good in Arizona. He had a great year and he's continuing to progress.

"Michael Ohlman had a terrific year in the Carolina League. He showed excellent power and good plate discipline, and he continued to improve as a catcher. I give the kid a lot of credit for going to Australia last year and playing winter ball. He showed that he wanted to make up for the time he missed because of his injury. He's really interested in his career. And he did well in Arizona.

"Eddie Gamboa continue to progress with his knuckleball. He was the Player of the Week last week in Mexico. He did well in Double-A for us. He's more of a longer-term project, but he's shown some good signs of commanding his knuckleball in Mexico. Based on his performance down there, he got a spot on our roster."

There were some notable omissions, including catcher Caleb Joseph and pitcher Oliver Drake. The good news is the Orioles actually had other players to consider.

"We're starting to get some depth to our farm system," Duquette said. "When you start getting a little depth like we're starting to accumulate, it makes for tough roster choices. But we added Ohlman because we think he can be a big league catcher. We added Tim Berry because we think he can be a starting pitcher in the big leagues. And the same with Gamboa. So we thought all three players we added could be everyday contributors, full-time contributors, in the big leagues."

Unlike some other executives, Duquette isn't going to broadcast his negotiations with agents and rival general managers. He'd like to bring back left fielder Nate McLouth and pitcher Scott Feldman, but he wasn't offering up a progress report.

"We're talking to a number of free agents," he said.

I tried to float outfielder Carlos Beltran's name, noting how one report had the Orioles, Yankees and Red Sox vying for his services. Duquette laughed and asked whether Beltran had signed.

Nope. He's still a free agent.

The same isn't true of left-hander Jason Vargas, who agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal with the Royals.

The Orioles really like Vargas, but not at four years. They don't want any pitcher at four years, which creates a serious issue when seeking a starter for the top portion of the rotation.

Ervin Santana never was a serious consideration, given the possibility that he will get a five-year deal. He'd also cost a first-round draft pick.

The team signing Matt Garza and Ricky Nolasco won't have to surrender a pick, but if Vargas is worth four years, what about them?

What about Feldman?

How exactly are the Orioles supposed to bring in a 200-inning starter via free agency with such limitations?

This brings us back to Bronson Arroyo, who turns 37 in February and is projected by MLBTradeRumors to land a two-year, $24 million deal. Looks like a friendly contract compared to the others.

Otherwise, the Orioles really do need to swing a trade. And they're certainly willing to go that route, which is why Duquette met with more than half of the teams at the GM meetings.

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