Offseason off to slow start

I'm not going to point out that it's still early in the offseason. Not with the Winter Meetings behind us and the Orioles' best acquisition being reliever Ryan Webb.

Let me stress again that I really like the Webb signing. The Orioles stepped up with a two-year, $4.5 million deal for a quality sinkerballer who will be a valuable option in the sixth-to-eighth innings. He was in great demand and the Orioles acted quickly, which certainly goes against their reputation.

Unfortunately, they still need a starter, a closer, a left-handed hitting left fielder and designated hitter, and a second baseman. That's a long list for Dec. 13, no matter how you spin it.

Of course, it could be reduced significantly in a matter of days. Offers are accepted and trades are completed with one phone call, and the Orioles have plenty on the table. But it's no fun to leave Lake Buena Vista, Fla., with rival executives and scouts questioning your direction, and with the media giving your offseason the lowest grade.

If the season started today, and we're a long way from March 31, the left field candidates would be Nolan Reimold, Steve Pearce, Henry Urrutia, Francisco Peguero and Julio Borbon. The second base candidates would be Ryan Flaherty, Jemile Weeks and Jonathan Schoop. Urrutia and Danny Valencia would comprise the DH platoon.

It's apparent that the Orioles want Schoop to begin next season at Triple-A Norfolk, but I threw his name in the pile. They're more inclined to use Urrutia at DH while he works on improving his defense.

I talked to a scout who was unimpressed with Schoop's defense and approach at the plate in the Arizona Fall League. But he also noted that Schoop is better than what he saw and may have been fatigued.

I've heard suggestions that the Orioles should move Chris Davis to left field and find another first baseman. It's an intriguing idea on the surface, since the Orioles otherwise may need to complete a trade to acquire that left-handed outfielder. They're not signing Shin-Soo Choo. But Davis prefers to stay at first base, and it's probably not wise to agitate him with two years remaining before free agency.

He gave the Orioles plus-defense at first base this season. Don't mess with it.

The offseason would be saved if the Orioles signed A.J. Burnett - I'm moving away from Bronson Arroyo if he's seeking a three-year deal - Grant Balfour and Kendrys Morales, and came up with a deal that got them a left-handed hitting left fielder.

I'd forfeit that first-round draft pick to sign the switch-hitting Morales. Take the proven commodity. Let him DH most nights. The bench becomes deeper under that arrangement.

The Orioles can afford to wait a little longer on Balfour, since the market is flush with closers. If he's going to drag his feet and wait for three guaranteed years, they can increase efforts to sign John Axford.

Chris Perez isn't a popular choice with everyone in the organization. That's why I keep minimizing the chances that he signs with the Orioles.

I'm putting second base on the backburner, just like executive vice president Dan Duquette. Brian Roberts is still a possibility, but I also could live with the in-house candidates if the other moves are made.

Give me a move. Any move.

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