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Room for improvements

The Orioles led the majors with 212 home runs and set records for errorless games (119), fewest errors (54) in a 162-game season and highest fielding percentage (.991). Power and defense weren’t in short supply. What needs to get better? I came up with a quick list. Feel free to make your own contributions. * The Orioles ranked 19th in the majors with a .313

Blair to be honored Friday in Towson (updated)

The family of former Orioles center fielder Paul Blair will greet his many friends and fans on Friday, Jan. 3, at Ruck’s Funeral Home at 1050 York Road in Towson. The public is invited to attend from 2-8 p.m. Blair, a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame who spent 13 of his 17 seasons in Baltimore, died on Dec. 26 after collapsing at a

Taking a closer look at Jones’ season

I spent a large portion of the 2013 season fielding complaints about Adam Jones blowing bubbles in center field and chasing sliders in the dirt. I couldn’t care less about the bubbles - they don’t impact whether he catches a ball and they never will - but it would be nice if he could lay off that pitch, especially with two strikes. For what it’s

Orioles haven’t been bullish on free agent market

I’m driving back to Sykesville this morning, which again opens up the possibility that the Orioles will make a roster move while I’m in Easton or on the Bay Bridge. It’s easier to pull over in Easton. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is traditionally slow in baseball, but I do have a track record. The Orioles could still sign a free agent

Clevenger ready to compete for backup job

Now that Scott Feldman has signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Astros, catcher Steve Clevenger is all that remains for the Orioles from their July 2 trade with the Cubs. Pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop will report to spring training with the Cubs. Clevenger will be competing for the backup job in Baltimore. Clevenger, 27, was more than just a throw-in, but

Trying to figure out the roster in December (Angelos statement on Blair)

One of my holiday traditions is sending along a projected Orioles lineup for a national publication. It’s a challenge in late December, with more roster moves expected before spring training. It’s a real head-scratcher this winter. I understand that utility infielder isn’t a sexy role and it doesn’t usually spark much of a debate, but help me out. If the Orioles don’t acquire a second

Bumbry on Blair: “I loved to watch him play”

Al Bumbry was named the American League’s Rookie of the Year back in 1973. He played most of his games for the Orioles in left field. Center field was occupied by a guy who would win eight Gold Gloves, including seven in a row. Bumbry was teammates with Paul Blair during his first four seasons in the majors, taking over in center field in 1977.

Former Orioles center fielder Paul Blair dies

I have the unfortunate task of passing along news that former Orioles center fielder Paul Blair died tonight. From what I understand, Blair collapsed in a Pikesville bowling alley. He was 69. Blair played his first 13 seasons with the Orioles and was part of the 1966, ‘69, ‘70 and ‘71 World Series teams. He won two titles with the Orioles and two more with

No possibility of posting for Tanaka

As the news continues to evolve concerning the posting process for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, I feel as though my face is pressed against a window and I’m watching the story unfold from the outside. Alanis Morissette says I’m uninvited. An unfortunate slight. Other reporters have been hanging on every update, but the Orioles won’t get involved with Tanaka. Executive vice president Dan Duquette made

Orioles need to keep shopping past Christmas

I raced downstairs this morning, trying not to trip in my footie pajamas and hoping that Santa filled my stocking with all the goodies that I requested while sitting on his lap, but he didn’t come through for me. Maybe I freaked him out by facing the other way. I was totally dissed by the jolly fat man with the white beard and cookie crumbs

Hunter’s closing argument

Tommy Hunter responded to my text message yesterday with a phone call, asked how I was doing and said he would be sitting in a tree later in the afternoon. I imagined him placing the star on top - the final touch to his holiday decorating - until I figured out that he meant a tree stand. He’s a hunter in more ways than one.

Orioles claim Hendriks off waivers

The Orioles must have been determined to sign an Australian-born player this winter. The club announced today that it claimed pitcher Liam Hendriks, 24, off waivers from the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs actually claimed Hendriks off waivers from the Twins on Dec. 13 after he went 1-3 with a 6.85 ERA in 10 games, including eight starts, over 47 1/3 innings. Hendriks also made 16

Monday morning musings

Has former Orioles reliever Francisco Rodriguez been linked to any teams looking for a closer this winter? He’s still a free agent, and he’s largely gone ignored. The Orioles don’t appear to have any interest in bringing him back despite giving up minor league infielder Nick Delmonico in a July 23 trade. His name was floated in the warehouse, but it must have gone right

Unable to walk away from Balfour controversy

Reliever Grant Balfour told MLB Network Radio’s Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden today that four teams are “excited to have me on board,” and he’s got at least one offer on the table. Duquette, the former Orioles executive, shared some of Balfour’s comments on Twitter. And guess what? Reds physician Dr. Timothy Kremchek chimed in again. More on that later. In case you’ve been living

A few random thoughts

I’ve had a few fans ask whether this is the craziest offseason that I’ve experienced since joining the Orioles beat full-time in 1997. Sidney Ponson once punched a judge on a beach in Aruba. That alone probably makes everything else take a backseat. Leave it to Sir Sidney to keep me busy. And try covering that story from home. Not easy. I’ll never forget getting

Orioles may not look far to fill two spots

Unless Fernando Rodney lowers his price, the Orioles apparently will stay in-house for their next closer. With Brian Roberts no longer on the market, the Orioles apparently will stay in-house for their next second baseman. Everything is subject to change, but they seem to be pointed in that direction. Tommy Hunter is the clear favorite to replace Jim Johnson if the Orioles don’t sign Rodney.

Reopening the closer controversy in Baltimore

The Orioles’ decision to back away from their two-year agreement with Grant Balfour may not hurt them on the field. They could sign Fernando Rodney, who’s totaled 85 saves over the past two seasons and posted a 0.60 ERA in 2012, and not skip a beat. But what are the potential ramifications off the field? Balfour could decide to file a grievance with the players

Closing thoughts on closer situation

At least until Saturday morning. The Orioles have turned their attention to free agent closer Fernando Rodney, reaching out to his agent again today. He’s their No. 1 target now, but not at the money he desires. At last check, Rodney was searching for a multi-year deal worth $10 million or more per season. Considering that the Orioles didn’t want to pay Jim Johnson $10-$11

More from Duquette on Balfour situation (with agent statement)

I wanted to pass along more quotes from Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, who confirmed this afternoon that the club would not sign closer Grant Balfour. The two sides had reached agreement earlier this week on a two-year, $15 million contract, but the Orioles weren’t comfortable with the results of his physical. “Our scouts evaluate a player’s skill and ability and capability to help

Balfour deal off

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette just confirmed to reporters that the deal with Grant Balfour is off, and the club will attempt to find another closer. Duquette indicated that the Orioles could sign a closer, trade for one or choose an internal candidate. “The Orioles were disappointed that we couldn’t complete a contract with Grant Balfour,” Duquette said. “The reason is the club’s not

Patton suspended 25 games for drug violation (updated)

The Orioles’ offseason took another nasty turn this afternoon. The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that orioles left-hander Troy Patton has received a 25-game suspension without pay after testing positive for an amphetamine in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension of Patton will be effective at the start of the 2014 regular season. Patton couldn’t

Brief Balfour update (and a little more)

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette will provide an update on closer Grant Balfour later this afternoon, and I’ll pass along his comments as soon as he’s done. Team officials are meeting this morning to discuss Balfour, who was supposed to sign his two-year, $15 million contract yesterday. Concerns arose over the results of his physical, and the deal appears to be falling apart. The

Lough: “I’m excited, ecstatic, to be with this team”

David Lough was warned at the Winter Meetings that he might be traded. It came from his agent, who informed the outfielder that a few clubs were showing interest. The Royals had acquired outfielder Norichika Aoki from the Brewers a few days earlier, making Lough expendable following his rookie season. On Wednesday, they dealt him to the Orioles for infielder Danny Valencia. My introduction to

Orioles’ deal with Balfour in serious jeopardy (updated)

The Orioles were expected to announce the signing today of closer Grant Balfour to a two-year contract, but an issue has arisen concerning his physical, according to multiple industry sources. Balfour agreed Tuesday to a two-year, $15 million contract that included $500,000 deferred over each of the next two seasons, and the Orioles were expected to introduce him Friday morning at a press conference at

Orioles sign Xavier Paul to minor league deal (more signings announced)

The Orioles have signed outfielder Xavier Paul to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, according to a team official. Paul, 28, batted .244/.339/.402 with 12 doubles, seven homers and 32 RBIs in 97 games with the Reds. He hit .253/.349/.426 with all of his extra-base hits and RBIs against right-handers. He was 3-for-19 against lefties. The Reds non-tendered Paul, a career

The Lough-down on yesterday’s trade and lots of questions

In the last two days, the Orioles have reached agreement with closer Grant Balfour and traded for outfielder David Lough. What will today bring? Still waiting for another batch of confirmed minor league signings. And yes, the Orioles still want to add a starting pitcher and perhaps another left-handed bat. I’ve been wrong about second base all winter, so take this next observation with a

Orioles trade Valencia to Royals for Lough

The Orioles have filled two holes on their roster in the last two days. After reaching agreement with closer Grant Balfour yesterday on a two-year, $15 million deal, the Orioles have traded infielder Danny Valencia to the Royals for outfielder David Lough. Lough, 27, batted .286/.311/.413 in 96 games for the Royals this season and played all three outfield positions. He finished eighth in the

Orioles believe bullpen is better

The Orioles were working last night to set up closer Grant Balfour’s physical for today in Baltimore. Two seasons ago, the Orioles bullpen was the strength of a team that snapped a string of 14 straight losing campaigns. The club finally made the playoffs, and most of the credit could be found beyond the outfield fences - spitting sunflower shells, chewing bubble gum and waiting

Orioles nearing agreement with Balfour (deal done)

The Orioles are on the verge of making their first impact move of the offseason. According to industry sources, the Orioles are nearing an agreement with free-agent closer Grant Balfour on a two-year deal. One source says Balfour will receive $14 million over two years, plus $500,000 deferred each year. The agreement will become official later today. Balfour reportedly had a higher-paying offer from another

My two cents on Roberts’ $2 million deal with Yankees

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve failed to get a proper handle on the Orioles’ plans at second base. The errors are accumulating at an alarming rate, ruining my chances of winning a hot stove Gold Glove. I bobbled Brian Roberts. I booted Mark Ellis. I’m all-hit, no-field. All indications pointed to the Orioles re-signing Roberts over the winter. Plenty of folks in the organization

S. Johnson aiming to “go out and prove I’m healthy and ready to go”

The Orioles are expected to announce more minor league signings this week, including former Nationals prospect Chris Marrero. They’re also in the process of finalizing a deal with infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. The first person to use the stale “start printing those World Series tickets” line gets coal in his stocking. Camden Yards has become a popular gathering spot for pitchers and position players to

Report: Roberts on verge of signing with Yankees (updated)

So much for the Orioles re-signing Brian Roberts. According to FOX Sports, the Yankees are “likely” to sign Roberts, the Orioles’ supplemental pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. The Yankees need a replacement for Robinson Cano, who signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Mariners. The Orioles still hadn’t reached out to Roberts’ agent during the Winter Meetings, though executive vice president Dan

Daily Balfour update

Another day has passed without the Orioles signing a closer. Are they getting closer? The Orioles still have a two-year offer on the table for Grant Balfour, refusing to include a guaranteed third year, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations. I’ve heard from one source that Balfour’s agent is now seeking a vesting option for 2016 after initially holding out for a third

Orioles sign Marrero, and Machado note

The Orioles have signed first baseman Chris Marrero to a minor league contract, according to a team official. The Nationals made Marrero, a right-handed hitter, the 15th overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. Marrero, 25, has posted a .232/.256/.272 slash line in 39 major league games in 2011 and 2013, with five doubles, 11 RBIs, four walks and 31 RBIs in 133 plate

Markakis on his workouts, leading off, the Jim Johnson trade and more

Nick Markakis donated baseball gloves and served lunch this morning to students from Alexander Hamilton Elementary School in Baltimore as part of the 35th annual OriolesREACH Holiday Party for Kids at Dave & Busters at Arundel Mills Mall. I barely recognized Markakis when he walked through the door. The thick beard and curly hair fool me every time. “Duck Dynasty” comes to Hanover? Nope, just

Still waiting for news

Still nothing to report on the Orioles, as we’ve moved into a new week and the Winter Meetings begin to disappear in the rearview mirror. John Axford, a fallback option as closer if the Orioles failed to sign Grant Balfour, reportedly has reached agreement with the Indians. The news will come as a relief - so to speak - for fans who didn’t think he

Checking on Flaherty

While the rest of us wait to find out whether the Orioles re-sign Brian Roberts, bring in another second baseman or choose an in-house candidate, Ryan Flaherty has been working out at Camden Yards and receiving tips on hitting from a member of the organization’s Hall of Fame. Flaherty left the frigid weather in Maine and headed to Baltimore. When we spoke over the phone

How does Almanzar impact Valencia?

The stack of e-mails and tweets from today’s “Wall to Wall Baseball” show on MASN included one about Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar and how his presence on the 25-man roster may impact Danny Valencia. Almanzar was a curious selection. He’s a right-handed hitting corner infielder who isn’t regarded as a plus defender, though his arm is plenty strong. Valencia is a right-handed hitting corner

Bring Burnett to Baltimore

The news that the Orioles are interested in signing A.J. Burnett has received mixed reviews, judging by the comments on this blog. And those comments are the only ones I care about. Could I possibly be in the minority of people who think it makes sense for the Orioles? They won’t hand out four- or five-year contracts to free agent pitchers. They’re not comfortable offering

Notes on Balfour, Burnett, Kubel and Freitas

The Orioles aren’t expected to make any announcements tonight. I’ve been told it’s “status quo,” with a lot of executives and agents traveling today. I guess it’s harder to leave Lake Buena Vista, Fla., than I realized. Nothing new to report on closer Grant Balfour, who continues to put the Orioles and other teams on hold. “There are plenty of closers on the market,” said

Offseason off to slow start

I’m not going to point out that it’s still early in the offseason. Not with the Winter Meetings behind us and the Orioles’ best acquisition being reliever Ryan Webb. Let me stress again that I really like the Webb signing. The Orioles stepped up with a two-year, $4.5 million deal for a quality sinkerballer who will be a valuable option in the sixth-to-eighth innings. He

Leftovers from the Winter Meetings

I left the Swan and Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., yesterday and realized that the temperature had been in the 80s during my entire stay. I never ventured outside the hotel until hailing a cab for the return trip to the Orlando airport. Quite a shock to the ol’ system when I stepped off the plane at BWI. The Orioles announced their acquisition

O’s receive catcher David Freitas to complete Jim Johnson trade

ORLANDO, Fla. - Now that the Rule 5 draft has been completed, the Orioles received minor league catcher David Freitas from the Athletics as the player to be named in the Jim Johnson trade. Freitas, who turns 25 on March 18, is the exact kind of hitter Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette is looking to add to the organization - a high on-base guy.

Quick update on Balfour

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles are trying to get a deal done with closer Grant Balfour before Friday morning’s flight back to Baltimore. Though the lobby area is mostly empty now, minus the tourists, the latest buzz is that the Orioles remain the favorites to sign Balfour. They’re the top team on his list of preferred destinations. The Orioles have a two-year offer

Wrapping up the Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Rule 5 draft has ended and baseball executives are racing to the airport as if there’s a treasure chest waiting at curbside check-in. The Orioles would have settled for a closer, a starting pitcher and a left-handed bat. Keep the trinkets. Technically, the Orioles obtained a left-handed hitting outfielder by selecting Julio Borbon in the Triple-A phase of the

Orioles select Almanzar in Rule 5 draft (updated)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles were among nine teams making selections in the major league phase of this morning’s Rule 5 draft, taking third baseman Michael Almanzar off Triple-A Pawtucket’s roster. Almanzar, 23, batted .268/.328/.432 last season at Double-A Portland of the Red Sox’s organization, with 29 doubles, 16 homers, 81 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 131 games. He’s a career .250/.302/.373

The Rule 5 draft and quotes from Ryan Webb

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles are heavy favorites to select another player in the Rule 5 draft, which begins at 9 a.m. at the Swan and Dolphin Resort. I won’t leave you in suspense any longer. I’m in the Dolphin building. This explains why Larry Csonka left a mint on my pillow. I’m anticipating that the Orioles will take another reliever, as they

Orioles offering Balfour a two-year deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles have made a two-year offer to free-agent closer Grant Balfour, according to an industry source. Executive vice president Dan Duquette told reporters earlier today that he had offers on the table to starting pitchers, relievers and left-handed hitters. He also indicated that the Orioles were interested in more than one closer, and it’s believed that they’ve extended an

More from Duquette (updated)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette met with reporters and other media types again today in his suite, part of his daily routine at the Winter Meetings. Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda’s suite is directly across the hall. I mention it only because he joked that we were trying to break into his room while we waited for Duquette. Probably

Duquette steps up efforts to make a deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Executive vice president Dan Duquette said he’s made offers to starting pitchers, relievers and hitters as he increases efforts to add players to the roster before heading home from the Winter Meetings. No names were provided, of course, but he indicated that the Orioles retain interest in more than one closer. Duquette also said he’s been active on the trade

From the lobby ...

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - With no news to report and another hour remaining before executive vice president Dan Duquette meets with reporters, I decided to flip through my notebook and pass along the latest musings from the hotel lobby. Keep in mind that things change quickly. A few of these nuggets were unearthed much earlier in the day - long before I began stalking

Boras on Wieters/Davis contract talks

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Superagent Scott Boras drew the usual crowd of reporters at the Winter Meetings. Today was his day to talk following an appearance on MLB Network Radio. It looked like field seats at a Springsteen concert. I didn’t have the most ideal vantage point, but I slowly crept forward as reporters and cameramen gave up and left the scene. Boras spent

Is pitching a fit for Orioles?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The local media and Orioles PR representatives will gather today for the annual managers luncheon. We eat, we chat, we keep our notepads in our back pockets. Tape recorders are turned off. Reporters also are instructed to power down their cell phones, a request that largely goes ignored. Conversations are off the record, but nuggets of news can be stored

Day Three of the Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Here we are, three days into the Winter Meetings, and the Orioles have outrighted infielder Cord Phelps to Triple-A Norfolk and officially signed reliever Ryan Webb to a two-year, $4.50 million contract after he passed a physical yesterday in Baltimore. Executive vice president Dan Duquette has met with several agents and executives. He’s gotten a firmer grip on the market

More from today’s meeting with Duquette

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - I’m emptying my notebook from today’s 10-minute meeting with Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. “We made some progress,” he said. “We met with a couple of teams and we also met with a couple of agents to move on a left-handed hitter. We worked on our Rule 5 draft today, so we’re putting our list together for Thursday. There

Quick hits from the Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told reporters today that the Orioles made their first offer to a free agent since arriving at the Swan and Dolphin Resort for the Winter Meetings. However, he added that it wasn’t a closer. Duquette noted the speculation earlier today about Grant Balfour, without mentioning the reliever by name, and described it as “pretty

Showalter meets the press - Part II

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Not only did the Orioles lose 50 saves, their leadoff hitter and a couple of starters with the departures of Jim Johnson, Nate McLouth, Scott Feldman and - at least for now - free agent Jason Hammel, they also lost players deemed as good clubhouse guys and leaders. It’s about more than statistics. “You can’t put that in sabermetrics or

Showalter meets the press - Part I

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter spent about 30 minutes today talking to reporters during his scheduled interview session. The topics included Brian Roberts’ possible return, Nick Markakis’ candidacy as the leadoff hitter next season, the decision to tender a contract to Nolan Reimold, the Rule 5 draft and fan unrest over the lack of a big move in free agency or

Showalter on the closer situation

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed today that the club hasn’t extended a formal offer to free-agent closer Grant Balfour. It’s expected to come later today. The Orioles have discussed parameters with Balfour’s agent and are regarded as the favorites to sign the veteran reliever, according to multiple sources. As always, it comes down to dollars and years. The Orioles also

Updating the Balfour negotiations

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles are creating quite a buzz this morning in their pursuit of a closer. While they continue to negotiate with John Axford’s agent - meeting with him this week at the Winter Meetings - it’s become apparent that Grant Balfour is their No. 1 choice to serve as the ninth inning specialist in 2014. The Orioles are expected to

Day Two of the Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter will be made available to the media today at 2:30 p.m. The local beat crew will have to share him with the rest of the Winter Meeting’s world. Reliever Ryan Webb will take his physical in Baltimore this morning, and the announcement of his two-year, $4.50 million deal could be announced later in the day. Webb

Notes on Roberts, Balfour, Urrutia and the pitchers’ mini-camp

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla - Though the door supposedly is open for second baseman Brian Roberts to return to the Orioles in 2014, it doesn’t appear that the team has reached out to him since the season ended. The Yankees need a second baseman, in case you missed that little piece of news, and apparently have spoken to Roberts’ agent, though there’s no indication that

Duquette: “We should be adding more players by the end of the week”

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette touched on a variety of topics during his daily session with the media. The board behind him that contains the names of specific trade and free-agent targets was turned around to prevent reporters from reading it. We offered to take up a collection as a bribe, but it didn’t work. Here’s a sampling of

Orioles outright Phelps, and other notes

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles outrighted infielder Cord Phelps to Triple-A Norfolk, leaving 37 players on their 40-man roster. Reliever Ryan Webb will be added Tuesday after passing his physical in Baltimore and signing his two-year, $4.15 million deal. Phelps, 26, was claimed off waivers from the Indians on Nov. 25. He appeared in 53 games for Cleveland over the last three seasons,

Hammel remains linked to Orioles

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles’ search for a veteran starter with an affordable contract could lead them back to Jason Hammel. I’ve heard that the Orioles maintain interest in Hammel, provided that he will accept a contract heavy in incentives. That’s the latest buzz from the lobby of the Swan and Dolphin Resort. The Indians also have expressed interest in Hammel, according to

Is Colon a fit for Orioles?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles are interested in signing free-agent pitcher Bartolo Colon, according to multiple industry sources. Executive vice president Dan Duquette told reporters last night that he has “a couple offers out to some pitchers.” It’s not known whether Colon is on the list, but the Orioles apparently have spoken to his representative. That’s the buzz in the lobby at the

Three managers elected to HOF, MacPhail talks about the Orioles

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Expansion Era electorate has chosen former managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre for induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Other candidates for the honor included former players Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Dave Parker, Dan Quisenberry and Ted Simmons, manager Billy Martin and executives Marvin Miller and George Steinbrenner. The 16-member electorate

Day One of the Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - While the national media continues to float big names as possible fits for the Orioles, executive vice president Dan Duquette seems determined to lower expectations, even if that’s not his intent. The Orioles have made offers to free agent starters, according to Duquette, but this quote clearly indicated that the Orioles aren’t trying to reel in a big fish: “If

Duquette on second base, pitching and more

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - There wasn’t much news to come out of tonight’s media session with Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. He went over the same shopping list that’s been published here - starting pitching, closer, left fielder, left-handed bat - and he didn’t bring up specific free agents despite his earlier appearance on MLB Network Radio. When I mentioned how Jim Duquette

Latest from Duquette

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette and other team officials were on my flight to Orlando today. We made it out of Baltimore despite the heavy snow. Duquette will meet with the local beat writers at 7:30 p.m., but he already dropped a little information on his cousin, Jim Duquette, and former general manager Jim Bowden during an interview on

Taking the hot stove to warmer climate

I’m not sure whether the timing of my trip to Orlando, Fla., this morning is perfect or dubious, considering the “wintry mix” that’s predicted in the area. I’m leaving it behind. That’s perfect timing. I’m driving in it and facing the possibility of a delayed flight. That’s dubious timing. The Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., stretch over five days, counting today, but the

Peguero signing official

Outfielder Francisco Peguero passed his physical and has signed a one-year contract with the Orioles, who made the announcement this morning. The deal is worth $555,000. Peguero, 25, batted .316/.354/.408 in 70 games with Triple-A Fresno. He also appeared in 18 games with the Giants, going 6-for-29 with his first major league home run. His at-bats during 2013 were limited because of a concussion sustained

Leftovers for breakfast

The Orioles talked to the Tigers about acquiring pitcher Doug Fister, but executive vice president Dan Duquette said there wasn’t a match. The Tigers preferred the players being offered by the Nationals: infielder Steve Lombardozzi and left-handers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray. The Orioles had early interest in Mike Napoli, but it didn’t last long. Just a little bit of tire kicking and that was

More on Feldman and McLouth, and a note on season ticket invoices

It’s been interesting to track the reaction of fans after news broke today that Scott Feldman signed with the Astros and Nate McLouth agreed to terms with the Nationals. Two players that the Orioles wanted to bring back, but only under their conditions. They didn’t want to give Feldman three guaranteed years. They wanted to avoid giving McLouth two years at $10-$11 million. Executive vice

Notes on Wolf and J. Johnson (and McLouth)

I’ve been asked about possible interest in left-hander Randy Wolf. The Orioles weren’t among the teams that watched him work out last week. Doesn’t sound like there’s any interest. FOX Sports reported that Wolf auditioned for eight teams as he attempts a comeback from ligament-reconstructive surgery in September 2012. He didn’t pitch this year. Wolf, 36, went 2-0 with a 5.28 ERA in five games

Orioles reach agreement with Webb on two-year deal (Feldman note)

The Orioles made another move to bolster their bullpen, agreeing to terms with former Marlins right-hander Ryan Webb on a two-year, $4.5 million deal, according to an industry source. He will take his physical next week in Baltimore. Webb, who turns 28 in February, was non-tendered by the Marlins after going 2-6 with a 2.91 ERA in 66 games. He allowed 70 hits, walked 27

Weeks: “This is probably the best thing for me at this point”

Jemile Weeks is trying to learn as much as he can about Baltimore before joining his new teammates at FanFest and in spring training. But he’s going to need more time. “All I’ve gotten so far is Charm City and the Birdland thing that’s going on,” he said last night during our phone conversation. “I’ve still got to go out and explore the city.” The

Axford rising on Orioles’ wish list

The Orioles are likely to find their next closer on the free agent market. Executive vice president Dan Duquette has referred to the number of experienced late-inning specialists “on the board.” One of those names dropped off it this morning. The Red Sox reportedly have agreed to terms with Edward Mujica on a two-year, $9.5 million contract, with the idea of having him serve as

Because I asked Duquette

It’s possible that the Orioles will announce today that they’ve signed former Giants outfielder Francisco Peguero. And it’s likely that the news will be met with more sarcasm. Pace yourselves. Is executive vice president Dan Duquette aware of, or concerned about, negative fan reaction to the Jim Johnson trade? “I think that’s natural when you have changes to your club or to your roster,” he

Orioles nearing deal with Peguero (Pridie note)

Executive vice president Dan Duquette confirmed today that the Orioles are on the verge of signing outfielder Francisco Peguero, who was non-tendered by the Giants on Monday. Peguero would have to pass a physical before the deal becomes official. “We’re working on it, but nothing is in place,” Duquette said. “It’s not a done deal. We’re still in the process.” Peguero, 25, went 6-for-29 with

More random thoughts and ramblings

The Orioles played their final game on Sept. 29. Are they any better today? No. About the same? No. It’s still early, right? We’re not supposed to be fooled by the flurry of trades and signings. We haven’t reached the Winter Meetings yet. This date qualifies as “early” for the offseason. But the Orioles have backpedaled by removing Jim Johnson, Nate McLouth, Brian Roberts, Scott

More from Duquette and another rumor

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette phoned into “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report” earlier today on MASN. Not surprisingly, last night’s trade was the first topic of discussion. What motivated the Orioles to send closer Jim Johnson to the Athletics for infielder Jemile Weeks and a PTBNL? “Jimmy did a nice job and that was a difficult choice for us, but we were looking to create

Jim Johnson on trade: “It just hit me like five minutes ago”

Jim Johnson is known as a stoic figure on the mound and inside the clubhouse. Nothing seems to faze him. Not the pressure situations in the ninth inning or the blown saves or the fan criticism. It wasn’t until Johnson began to talk about his tenure with the Orioles, which ended with last night’s trade to the Oakland Athletics, that the emotions bubbled to the

A few more thoughts on Johnson trade

Jim Johnson flew into San Diego late last night with the intention of working out with Orioles executive Brady Anderson. He had no idea that he would be traded to a West Coast team. Talk about a strange coincidence. Johnson was dealt to the Oakland Athletics for infielder Jemile Weeks and a PTBNL, the announcement coming at the midnight deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible

Duquette on trade

To recap a busy day and night, the Orioles tendered contracts to six of their arbitration-eligible players: catcher Matt Wieters, first baseman Chris Davis, and pitchers Tommy Hunter, Bud Norris, Brian Matusz and Troy Patton. They reached agreements on one-year deals with outfielders Nolan Reimold ($1.025 million) and Steve Pearce ($850,000). They traded closer Jim Johnson to the Athletics for infielder Jemile Weeks and a

Orioles trade Jim Johnson to A’s

As the midnight deadline approaches for teams to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, the Orioles have narrowed the list by trading closer Jim Johnson to the Athletics for infielder Jemile Weeks. The Orioles also will receive a player to be named later from the A’s minor league system. Weeks, 26, went 1-for-9 with five strikeouts in eight games with the A’s this season. The

Reimold agrees to terms, and so does Pearce

So far, the Orioles haven’t pulled off any trades or surprises as the deadline approachs to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. In fact, the Orioles haven’t made any announcements, but they’ve reached agreement with outfielder Nolan Reimold on a one-year, $1.025 million contract, according to an industry source. I’ve heard that Reimold’s deal includes incentives based on plate appearances or at-bats that could add

Will Jim Johnson remain an Oriole?

Ever since executive vice president Dan Duquette told reporters during the final homestand that the Orioles would tender a contract to Jim Johnson, there’s been rampant speculation about the right-hander’s role and whether he’d be part of the March 31 opening day ceremonies at Camden Yards. Johnson is projected to make at least $10 million next season, which is a steep price for a closer.

Random thoughts

Today is the deadline for teams to offer contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. Executive vice president Dan Duquette indicated recently that the Orioles will tender all nine of their players - pitchers Jim Johnson, Troy Patton, Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Bud Norris, outfielders Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce, first baseman Chris Davis and catcher Matt Wieters. Of that group, only Reimold, Pearce and Patton

Who’s backing up Wieters?

Before rolling out of my house late yesterday afternoon, I looked up stats for a Sunday morning blog entry on backup catching candidates for the Orioles. I also was prepared to issue a warning against any snarky “slow news day” remarks. You know the rest. The Orioles acquired catcher Johnny Monell from the Giants for cash considerations and tossed him into the mix. Coincidence? Or

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