Taking another look at second base

What can we look forward to this week?

Perhaps we can read a little something into this quote on Wednesday from executive vice president Dan Duquette, who returned my call during the last night of the GM meetings in Orlando:

“We’ve been meeting with teams and agents and canvassing the market and seeing where we match up with teams. We’ve been talking to agents about signing some players to help bolster our ballclub, so we’re making some pretty good progress with a couple of conversations that we’ve had. Hopefully, some of the work we’re doing this week will bear fruit next week.”

It’s now “next week,” which puts us on high alert for a possible signing or trade.

Either that, or I’m reading too much into it. We’ll see.

When I asked Duquette whether a starting pitcher was the highest priority for the Orioles, he replied, “Right now, we’re looking at bolstering the club. We need an outfielder and a left-handed hitter to help at DH. And someone for the rotation, like everyone else.”

What about a second baseman?

“Maybe. We’ll see.”

It’s obvious that the Orioles have a decision to make at second with Brian Roberts being a free agent. They’re not just going to hand the job to Ryan Flaherty or Jonathan Schoop. In fact, I’d be surprised if Flaherty is starting at any position next season and Schoop is in the majors.

Right now, Flaherty projects as a utility infielder who may be needed at third base if Manny Machado begins the season on the disabled list. He can play multiple positions. He’s valuable coming off the bench.

The Orioles probably want Schoop to get more at-bats at Triple-A Norfolk. No need to rush him, especially after he missed significant time this summer with a stress fracture in his lower back and batted .177 in 16 games in the Arizona Fall League.

Doesn’t seem ready to me.

As I’ve written, the Orioles are open to re-signing Roberts. It seemed like a ridiculous suggestion heading into this season, and again after Roberts injured his hamstring during the third game. But it could happen if he’s willing to accept a one-year deal with a relatively low base salary that is heavy in incentives.

Don’t ask me to define “relatively low base salary.” I’m not privy to the exact figures. But it won’t come anywhere near the $10 million that he made this year.

Broken record alert: The Orioles are considering Mark Ellis, 36, as an alternative. He’s definitely on their radar, as the kids say. I’ve heard his name come up more than once during talks with people in the organization.

Ellis’ agent is Jamie Murphy, who also represents right fielder Nick Markakis. That’s more of a fun fact than anything significant, but the Orioles do have a good relationship with him.

Ellis made $5.25 million this season while batting .270/.323/.351 with 13 doubles, two triples, six homers and 48 RBIs in 126 games with the Dodgers. He gave them plus-defense at second and can play the other infield positions if needed, though he’s only been used at third base in one game since 2002.

Not sure if this sways you, but Ellis is a career .293/.351/.426 hitter in September/October, his highest numbers for any month. The Orioles’ offense has sputtered late the past few seasons. Would be nice to have a guy who actually heated up down the stretch.

Not sure if this sways you, either, but Ellis is a career .297/.377/.511 hitter against the Orioles, and a career .287/.377/.463 hitter at Camden Yards.

I know, I know. He wouldn’t be facing the Orioles pitching if he signed with them, but I’m passing it along anyway.

Ellis hits .313/.353/.431 at Fenway Park and .309/.371/.415 at Tropicana Field. Something else to consider, if you’re so inclined.

Anyway, the Orioles like him and he’s a definite consideration at second base next season. They’ve talked about him internally. That’s it so far.

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