More leftovers for breakfast

The Winter Meetings officially start in two days. I officially start packing a suitcase later this afternoon.

My bitterness may not fit in the overhead compartment.

Reliever Darren O’Day remains on the free agent market this morning. I checked again late last night and nothing seemed to change on the Orioles’ end of it. They’re hoping that their offer is good enough while also banking on location and manager Buck Showalter’s careful handling of his bullpen as deciding factors.

Buck versus Dusty Baker. Who you got?

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette is trying to acquire another starter, but he’s also banking on bounceback seasons from the holdovers, including Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez.

“They pitched much better for us in ‘14 than they did for us in ‘15. In ‘15, they didn’t pitch to the level they had established for themselves, other than (Wei-Yin) Chen,” Duquette said.

“I’m hopeful that the guys we’re bringing back - Gonzalez and Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez - will pitch at the level they’ve established for themselves and they’re going to pitch better this season than they did last season. Having said that, we need to upgrade our starting pitching by getting better performance from the people we have, and also by adding to our rotation.”

The outrageous contracts being given to the top starters on the market - David Price and Zack Greinke - raises the prices on the second-tier group. Duquette noted how Chen earned $16 million over four years with the Orioles and will probably make that much in the first season of his new deal.

Wei-Yin Chen black delivers close.jpg“I don’t know what these second-tier starters are going to get, but like I said, the price of poker is going up,” Duquette said. “We’ve got some pitching in our minor leagues that we just absolutely have to develop. Mike Wright, he’s got to develop. Kevin Gausman, he’s got to develop. We’ve got a couple starters behind them. This kid Chris Lee we just put on the roster, a left-hander we picked up from Houston, he had a good year. He won 10 games. He needs to develop. We’ve got a kid named David Hess, who pitched at Double-A at the end of the year. He needs to develop. So that’s where we’re going to put a lot of time and energy and resources. And then we’re going to sign a starter here or there.

“We were able to pick up Miguel Gonzalez a couple years ago and he did a good job for us. We signed Chen. We’re going to be active in some of these other markets, and hopefully we’ll be able to come up with a starting pitcher that will be dependable for us.”

The current roster is extremely light on left-handed bats and it won’t get any better if Davis signs with another team. The Pirates non-tendered Pedro Alvarez, the former third baseman who was moved to first and still couldn’t field the ball, and the Orioles appear to be interested in him. They’d just need to hide his glove and make him the primary designated hitter, especially if Mark Trumbo is needed at first.

“Alvarez had some good years in Pittsburgh and of course was a high draft pick,” Duquette said. “It’s interesting that I saw Pedro Alvarez. He came and played against my summer college team with Team USA when he was at Vanderbilt, and I saw this strapping young kid playing third base and he caught my eye. And he had a quick bat and left-handed power.

“I did a little bit more research and I said, ‘Where is this kid from?’ I went and looked that up. He’s from Washington Heights, which was where Manny Ramirez played. And then I looked into his background. There are a lot of similarities. Of course, he’s a left-handed power hitter. He’s not a right-handed power hitter.

“He was drafted second in the draft by the Pirates and he’s had an up and down career with them. I guess he didn’t have a very good year, so they turned him loose and he’s a free agent.”

Keep an eye on him. The Orioles could be a fit.

Third baseman Manny Machado called into Thursday’s “Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan and expressed his excitement over the upcoming season.

“This is a winning organization,” he said. “We have great guys that are coming back to help us win and great guys that we’re trying to get, so I’m really excited for next year. Hopefully, I can build on it and keep doing what I’ve been doing and have continued success.”

It’s hard to build on playing 162 games unless the season stretches into deep October.

Machado said he’s gained a greater appreciation of Cal Ripken Jr.’s record-streak of 2,632 consecutive games.

“Oh, definitely,” he said. “Playing 162 wasn’t easy. It’s a grind, it’s a beating to your body. I’m still recuperating from it.

“I think that’s a record that’s never going to be beaten. I think what he did is something that nobody who plays this game will ever come close to it. It’s something that, it’s a great accomplishment, it’s something that I think he should hold for the rest of his life, and I think he will.

Manny Machado smiles orange.jpg“You’ve just got to appreciate this game a little more, because injuries come into play, and struggles. Just different things that you can’t control will come into the play of not being able to play every day. So when you’re out there and you take that field and you put that Orioles uniform on and you see that crowd out there and you see Orioles across the chest, you can’t take it for granted and you have to appreciate every moment that you step on the field.”

Machado won’t be hounded with questions about his surgically repaired knees when he arrives at spring training. His every move, his every step, was scrutinized at the January minicamp and again in Sarasota. Not anymore.

“With the season I had, I think there’s nothing to talk about,” Machado said. “I’m just getting ready for the next year and I think the next questions that are going to be asked are, ‘What do you think about the upcoming season and the new team that we have?’”

The new team will have a familiar face behind the plate after Matt Wieters accepted the qualifying offer.

“I talked to Wieters when he re-signed,” Machado said. “It’s always good to have Wieters back. He’s been the heart of this organization. He came up with our organization. He’s been the key part of everything that this organization has done for the last couple of years, so having him back, I think he’s going to help us out a lot. I think him healthy and playing a full year, the sky’s the limit with the team that we have coming back.”

The list of returning players naturally includes second baseman Jonathan Schoop, a close friend of Machado’s who is also an important part of his professional life.

“We have a great bond,” Machado said. “We came up together, we know each other, we know when we’re down and when we’re tired. We kind of just know each other. Once you get to this level, I think you’ve got to find someone like that that can push you because this game isn’t easy.

“I think we have a great group of guys with Adam (Jones), CD, Wieters, J.J. (Hardy). I think they all get it. We push each other. I think that’s why we’re so great. We came up short, but I think we’re going to have a great team because of the guys Buck and Dan surround us with. We push each other to the fullest and we keep grinding because this is a grind. Playing 162 games is not easy. Not everybody can do it, and when you find someone like Jonathan Schoop - we came up together and we’re brothers, basically - we push each other and do whatever we have to do to get reach other ready to play every day.”

The Orioles haven’t reached out to Machado again regarding a contract extension, but it’s going to come up. They’re just trying to take care of more immediate business before revisiting it.

Machado, winner of two Gold Gloves at third base, would like his career to pattern the man who won 16 of them.

“That’s what we dream of,” he said. “I came up with the organization, this is the only organization I know. I bleed orange, so definitely I’d love to stay. I would love to follow a path like Brooks Robinson did, playing and winning all those Gold Gloves in the city of Baltimore. That’s a legacy that everybody wants to follow, but that’s out of my hands. The only thing I control is just to go out there and perform every day, play 160-162 games and just give it my all. And that’s what I’m going to keep trying to do. I’m going to keep leaving it on the field in Baltimore because I love the city, I love the organization, I love the fans. I don’t think there’s any other city out there that supports us as well as Baltimore does. It’s just a city that you want to play for.”

Note: Former Orioles pitcher Pete Harnisch has been hired by the Mariners as a special assistant in player development.

I wonder if he would have made the Glenn Davis trade.

Shameless plug alert: I’m on “Wall to Wall Baseball” today from noon-2 p.m. on MASN.

blog comments powered by Disqus