In decline

Good morning to all. Teams throughout baseball were busy this week declining options on their players, turning them loose on the free agent market. Three of them intrigue me at the moment. Could Jermaine Dye, at the right cost, provide that right-handed power bat for the middle of the order that manager Dave Trembley places high on his wish list? Dye has averaged 33 home runs over the past five seasons, though he's batted .254 and .250 in two of the last three. He could serve as the designated hitter, though he might prefer to play right field (and for a contender, of course). Reliever J.J. Putz is coming off elbow surgery and also experienced forearm problems this season. He was limited to 29 games with the Mets, going on the disabled list for good in early June. He posted a 5.22 ERA, walked 19 and struck out 19 in 29 1/3 innings. I don't think he'll be asking for the moon. You wouldn't invest a large chunk of payroll in this guy, but if he's back to full health, he gives you another closer option or could assist in a set-up role. Brett Myers made three Opening Day starts for the Phillies and also has closed. Sounds like a handy guy to have in camp. On the downside, he underwent hip surgery this season (though he returned from it), and was charged with assaulting his wife in June 2006 (the charges were dropped, but it was an ugly incident). Myers told the Inquirer's Jim Salisbury: "I'll just go out there on the market and see what happens, dude." You always need at least one guy on the roster who drops the word "dude" on you. Dye and Myers also own World Series rings. It's nice to have that kind of bling in the clubhouse. I remember how Jeff Conine's ring from the Marlins, which weighed more than the player, drew a big crowd at Fort Lauderdale Stadium after he re-signed with the Orioles in 2006. I'll toss out one more name: Hank Blalock, who can play first and third base and also DH. Blalock had health issues in 2007 and 2008, and he batted only .234 with a .277 on-base percentage this season. But he also hit 25 home runs and could be a temporary solution in a winter where the market isn't overflowing with top corner infield talent. Scott Boras began representing Blalock this year, so the Orioles would have to wait until he's done comparing his client to Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. I'm sure he has some charts and graphs to back it up.

Looking back and ahead
Jones as good as gold

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