Bullpen banter

I’m in between breakfast courses and wanted to check in real quick.

The first course included fried ham and French toast made with gourmet Italian panettone bread.

The eggs are cooking. Over easy.

I’ll need the jaws of life to get out of these pants.

I would love to pass along an update on the first base negotiations, but I’ve got nothing.

The Orioles preferred Adam LaRoche. They turned their attention to Derrek Lee. They continue to hold discussions with LaRoche’s agent. They continue to hold discussions with Lee’s agent.


At this point, it’s senseless to revisit the topic unless one player is eliminated or the Orioles reach agreement on a contract. These incremental updates are giving me a rash.

As for the bullpen, the Orioles still want to add at least one more arm. Ideally, they’d like to sign a right-hander and a left-hander.

It’s probably safe to pencil in Koji Uehara, Jim Johnson, Michael Gonzalez, Jason Berken and Jeremy Accardo. That leaves two openings and a group that currently includes Alfredo Simon, Rick VandenHurk, Troy Patton, Pedro Viola and Rule 5 pick Adrian Rosario.

I’ve excluded Rosario in past discussions simply because I don’t think a Rule 5 selection who finished up in low A ball last season will stick on the major league roster. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes back to the Brewers, who would return Pat Egan to the Orioles.

That scenario was mentioned as a possibility by one team official a few minutes after the draft.

One name you hear attached to the Orioles is right-hander Grant Balfour - a dubious name for a pitcher.

Balfour made 71 appearances with the Rays in 2009, but only 57 this year because of a strained rib cage. He went 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 55 1/3 innings, with 17 walks and 56 strikeouts.

He’s 8-for-17 in save chances for his career, so I’d probably keep him out of the ninth inning unless other options aren’t available. But the Orioles aren’t looking at him to close. He’d provide tremendous depth in the late innings if Johnson stays healthy and returns to his prior dominant set-up form. And he’d be great insurance if Johnson returns to the disabled list.

Manager Buck Showalter is a firm believer in strengthening the bullpen to assist a young rotation. Shorten the game as much as possible. Take a lead into the seventh inning and feel a lot better about your chances.

The one hitch with Balfour is his Type A status. He’d cost the Orioles a second-round pick. Not sure if you consider that a steep price, but it must not be deterring the front office because there’s definite interest.

As for lefties, the door still hasn’t closed on Will Ohman and Mark Hendrickson. Ohman obviously would be a late-inning match-up guy. Hendrickson is the jack-of-all-trades who could pitch in long relief, match up or be used as an emergency starter.

The one big complication in all of this, and it would be a nice one, is the possibility that VandenHurk is lights-out in spring training and forces his way onto the roster. He’s out of minor league options and would have to be exposed to waivers before being sent down.

If the rotation is full - and keep in mind that a veteran starter could arrive before spring training - the Orioles would need to make room in the bullpen.

Again, that’s a nice problem to have and the Orioles should be so lucky.

Update: My mother broke one of the yolks and she’s inconsolable. I told her it’s probably Andy MacPhail’s fault.

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