Tackling a few O's topics

You get it. Tackling a few topics - an appropriate term for the weekend of football that is now here. But back to the topic at hand for this blog, here is a take or two on an O's topic or two. A tale of two players It has been pointed out before - many, many times - that some players don't seem to want to come to Baltimore through free agency. I can only conclude now that Adam LaRoche was one of those players. At his Nats press conference Friday he said Washington was "a place I wanted to end up." Of Baltimore, he said "I can't say if it was ever a serious possibility, but it definitely got to the point where there was some dialogue and we were talking back and forth." Maybe he wanted to stay in the National League. Maybe he didn't want any part of the American League East. Maybe he likes politics and is not a fan of crab cakes. Who knows? But after all the hand wringing about this guy, in the end, he didn't want to play here. Contrast that with Kevin Gregg's comments. He said he "really liked what he saw last year of the team. Once Buck (Showalter) took over, I noticed a change in attitude and direction and I just wanted to be a part of it." It seems to me that a player that really wants to be here over one that doesn't have better options, will likely be a happier and more productive player while he resides in the Oriole Park clubhouse. The O's will spend a lot more on their bullpen than their rotation this year While Jeremy Guthrie is arbitration-eligible again and will get a raise over the $3million he made last year, the other four members of the rotation could all be players that make barely over the league minimum. The total payout for a five-man O's rotation could be in the $6-$8 million range while in the 'pen, Koji Uehara, Gregg and Mike Gonzalez alone will earn about $14 million combined for the season. Now that most of the O's signings are complete, we can guess at the club's payroll for the year. It takes a guess since you have to estimate what the six arbitration-eligible players will earn. Each will get raise; some, like Adam Jones, should get a substantial increase through the arbitration process. That accounted for, I am estimating the O's payroll to be somewhere in the ballpark of $78 million. Again, just a guess - and it doesn't include what players could earn through performance bonuses. Buck Showalter is not committing to anyone as his closer It is nice to have options to close and Showalter now has a few there. Last season, Mariano Rivera saved 86.8 percent of his chances, Jonathan Papelbon was at 82.2 percent and Gregg was at 86.1. The best in the game saved 93 percent last season. Gregg's success vs. the best in the division - he saved 12 of 13 last year versus Tampa, Boston and New York - gives him the leg up on the closer's role in my opinion. But publicly, anyway, Showalter is not ruling out using Uehara again in that role after he went 13-for-15 last year (86.6 percent). It could have been 14 for 15 if Uehara knew when to throw a splitter to Alex Rodriguez one night. I hear some fans discount the save stat. I wonder if they said that after Game 1 last year against Tampa or that night at home versus New York. Sure, getting a save in the ninth with a three-run lead should be just about automatic, but there are plenty of tough chances, too. The save overrated? Only until the night when you don't get one. Now, Gonzalez, signed to be the closer, is no higher on the depth chart than third string for the role. Probably a good depth position to be in. There could be a scenario next season where an O's starter pitches well through five, has the lead, but also a huge pitch count racking up. The O's could use Gonzalez, Jim Johnson, Uehara and Gregg to cover the last four innings and nurse a late lead to the end. Not bad.

The Showalter influence
The 'pen is mightier

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