A few random thoughts

I've had a few fans ask whether this is the craziest offseason that I've experienced since joining the Orioles beat full-time in 1997.

Sidney Ponson once punched a judge on a beach in Aruba. That alone probably makes everything else take a backseat.

Leave it to Sir Sidney to keep me busy. And try covering that story from home. Not easy.

I'll never forget getting a call from my editor at The Sun shortly after Christmas as I sat down to eat dinner.

"Did you see what AP is reporting about Ponson?" he asked.

"No," I replied, "but I'm guessing that he didn't save a bunch of nuns and orphans in a fire."

Reliever Doug Johns was arrested on Oct. 8, 1999, five days after the Orioles' final regular season game, and charged with driving under the influence of marijuana and obstructing a roadway.

It all started when Johns was delayed at the toll plaza of the Francis Scott Key Bridge because he didn't have a dollar. He was earning $300,000 a year.

Most drivers would pull over and fill out a sheet of paper promising to mail the dollar, but Johns didn't clear the traffic lanes. Bad idea, especially when you've got weed. And especially when Johns already had been arrested on April 5 and charged with a DUI and marijuana possession after running a red light at East Lombard and Gay streets.

What a character.

Davey Johnson was named the American League's Manager of the Year on Nov. 5, 1997 - and resigned on the same day after failing to receive a contract extension. He made the threat and followed through with it.

That story earned its share of coverage.

But, yes, this offseason will make the list, with the Grant Balfour deal falling apart and Troy Patton being suspended 25 games for a second violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. And wasn't there a shakeup with the coaching staff and knee surgeries for Manny Machado and Wei-Yin Chen? And didn't a closer get traded?

I may need to reconsider my top choice.

I'm not going on the attack here, but Patton needs to be smarter. A DWI in Houston back in January 2011, a trip to the disabled list in 2012 after spraining his ankle while walking through a parking garage following a concert in Columbia, and now this suspension.

The first violation should have been enough to prevent a second one.

It took a while for Patton to regain the organization's trust after the arrest in Houston. He was fading from their plans, barely used the following spring training. It would be a shame if he went backward after working so hard to establish himself in the majors.

Patton's ERA climbed from 2.43 in 2012 to 3.70 this season, and left-handers batted .289 against him. The Orioles have a few extra southpaw relief candidates on the 40-man roster. He's not irreplaceable.

OK, I'll close this entry with a question that was posed on yesterday's "Wall to Wall Baseball" show on MASN.

The Orioles need a bat. I'm not sure what's going on at designated hitter, but is there any reason to believe that they'll improve on their .236 average?

I've been beating the Kendrys Morales drum until my hands bleed. Give up the first-round draft pick. Take the proven switch-hitter, a middle-of-the-order guy who could hit 30 home runs playing half his games at Camden Yards, and deepen your bench. Forget a platoon.

The Royals may consider trading Billy Butler. He wouldn't cost a draft pick, but the Orioles would have to give up players, and the usual demand centers on their young pitching.

Butler went from hitting 29 homers and driving in 107 runs in 2012 to totaling 15 homers and 82 RBIs this season. But he's got a career .364 on-base percentage in seven major league seasons. Power and the ability to reach base.

So, if you're the general manager, do you pay for Morales or try to put together a package for Butler?

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