Heading to Nashville for the Winter Meetings

I’m hearing that Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are looking to make a comeback, and the Orioles are in on all of them.

Sorry. Just practicing for the Winter Meetings, where the ridiculous is sold as reality.

Scouts and general managers will attach some of the biggest names to the Orioles because, well, it makes sense to them. Not because they’re hearing it directly from the Orioles. Not because they’ve paid attention to executive vice president Dan Duquette, who keeps saying that his club won’t spend big and is more likely to pull off a trade than sign a free agent.

It’s part of the fun, right?

This will be my last blog entry without a Nashville dateline until Friday morning. The local beat crew will probably meet with Duquette later today, though the meetings don’t officially begin until Monday. Then it gets crazy, with rumors flying all over the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, kept airborne by the media’s incessant tweeting.

Naturally, I will pass along anything I hear and whatever is being reported from other outlets. The Orioles’ young pitchers are attracting the most interest from rival executives, and for once, the team seems willing to part with a few of them. That should lead to all sorts of speculation. Maybe even a deal.

You know the club’s needs by now, but hey, I’ll play broken record here. A middle-of-the-order bat, whether it’s a first baseman/designated hitter or left fielder, and a starting pitcher. Oh yeah, and a third base coach, who could be hired before the meetings conclude.

The Orioles have definite interest in the Royals’ Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer. Let’s see if those two players are really available, and if there’s a potential match.

The Orioles had no interest in left fielder Josh Willingham last winter. He signed with the Twins, hit 35 home runs and won a Silver Slugger. Now the Orioles have been linked to him. It’s worth monitoring.

Though Duquette has downplayed the possibility of signing a free agent, that was before Friday night’s non-tenders. Could the Orioles be enticed by left-hander John Lannan? They had a chance to acquire him last winter as part of a package for center fielder Adam Jones, but they passed on the offer. Definitely worth monitoring.

What about Jair Jurrjens? The Orioles wanted him last winter and the Braves were reluctant to part with him. Now they’ve parted with him, and he’s not nearly as appealing. Health issues, diminished velocity.

If the Orioles sign a reliever, they’ll have to create room for him. Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop, Luis Ayala, Darren O’Day and Troy Patton should occupy five of the bullpen spots, and Brian Matusz gets the sixth if he isn’t in the rotation - and isn’t traded. The last spot could go to whichever starter gets bumped. Tommy Hunter, who’s out of options, comes to mind.

Don’t be shocked if the Orioles bring home a player whose name never crossed your mind, or MLBTradeRumors.com’s. Was anyone talking about Dana Eveland last winter? Or Ryan Flaherty?

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