Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Santana Trade Analysis

I can't imagine the Mets not reaching a contract extension with Johan Santana. Can you see them telling their fans that after winning the Santana sweepstakes, they've decided not to pay for him and are sending him back to Minnesota? Since this just isn't going to happen, I'll analyze the trade now.

Like I said in my last entry, it feels like the Twins settled. When talking about the biggest move of the off-season, not to mention one that will have a lasting influence on Minnesota's rebuilding effort, "settling" is not what you want to feel. It was a difficult situation to begin with, since Johan Santana has a full no-trade clause in his contract, therefore limiting the place he could be traded to. He also said that he didn't want to be traded mid-season, therefore giving the Twins a deadline. I think that deadline played a major part in pushing this trade through to completion.

At one point the Red Sox were offering two packages:
#1: LHP Jon Lester, RHP Justin Masterson, CF Coco Crisp and SS Jed Lowrie.
#2: CF Jacoby Ellsbury, RHP Justin Masterson and SS Jed Lowrie.

The Yankees had a top notch offer also of RHP Phil Hughes, CF Melky Cabrera and another prospect.

All three of those offers have comparable or higher ceilings and are less risky than the offer taken from the Mets. Lester, Crisp, Ellsbury, Hughes and Cabrera are all young players who have proven that they can compete in the majors and would fill holes on the Twins' roster. Only about a year ago Hughes was considered the best pitching prospect in baseball, and Ellsbury looks to be an excellent centerfielder and lead-off hitter now.

The time has passed on those deals. The Twins waited too long and those offers were pulled off the table, leaving them no where else to go but the Mets and with no leverage to increase their offer. The Mets stuck to their guns and refused to include their top prospect, OF Fernando Martinez, instead selling off OF Carlos Gomez, RHP Phil Humber, RHP Kevin Mulvey and RHP Deolis Guerra.

That's not to say the deal was a total bust. They did get 4 players and there is a mix of major league talent and minor league upside in there.

Centerfielder Carlos Gomez is a tremendous athlete with great speed. He's also 6'4", so many scouts are predicting that he'll develop power as well. The downside is, he is very raw and unpolished. His plate discipline needs work and he hasn't shown much in the 125 AB he's had in the majors. Sure he has upside, but he looks like one of those guys who boasts tons of athletic ability, but isn't much of a ballplayer. I think that will keep him from reaching his full potential.

Phil Humber was a 1st round draft pick back in 2004, so he's got that premier talent pedigree. But along the way he had tommy john surgery. He hasn't quite been the same since. He still should contribute. He could compete for a back of the rotation slot for the Twins this year, but I wouldn't expect him to "wow" anyone. He gave up 21 homeruns in 139 innings in AAA last year. He might be getting taken out of the game early and often.

I like Kevin Mulvey much better. He's still a year away from the majors, but he has much more upside than Humber. He projects as a solid #3 pitcher. For the sake of comparison, he only gave up 4 homeruns in 157 2/3 innings in AA last year.

Deolis Guerra is the sleeper here. He pitched in class A advanced last year at the young age of 18 and has front of the rotation potential. He's got a good fastball and a great change up, but needs to refine his breaking stuff. That said, he didn't dominate last year, just holding his own. He can be the deal breaker, making this trade worth it for the Twins if he reaches his potential. But given his age and how far away he is from reaching the majors, it's a risky move.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Johan Santana is FINALLY traded!

USA Today reports that Minnesota Twins have agreed to trade Johan Santana to the Mets for four prospects. The prospects include outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Kevin Mulvey, Phil Humber, and Deolis Guerra. The deal is pending Santana passing a physical and reaching a contract extension with the Mets; they have a 48-72 hour window.

I'll write more on the players the Twins received if the deal is finalized, but it looks to me like the Twins are being forced to settle. The Mets are keeping their best prospect in outfielder Fernando Martinez, and I'm thinking the original offer from the Red Sox may have been superior; LHP Jon Lester, CF Coco Crisp, RHP Justin Masterson, and SS Jed Lowrie.

Is Adam Jones the next Albert Belle?

There was a nasty rumor started today by someone called Stan the Fan while a guest on ESPN radio. He started spewing information about the halted trade between the Orioles and the Mariners, saying that it was because the Orioles found out that Adam Jones has a degenerative hip condition. Roch Kubatko, from the Baltimore Sun, confirms that the deal's hang-up has something to do with Adam Jones, but Stan the Fan is treading on dangerous ground. We haven't heard anything about a hip up to this point. I certainly hope that this isn't true, because this would add a very sour taste to this trade unless the Mariners increase their offer.

Monday, January 28, 2008

It's all about momentum

For all of you who have been waiting for all the Erik Bedard trade rumors to end and for a deal to be completed... you're going to have to keep waiting. However, trade talks are gaining some serious momentum and it looks like a deal is closer than ever before. The reports this morning even made it sound like the deal was done.

The centerpiece in the trade package coming back from Seattle is, and has always been expected to be, centerfielder Adam Jones. He has been playing winter ball in Venezuela, but isn't anymore. The news that a deal was struck started when Adam Jones told a Venezuelan newspaper that he had to leave the team (in Venezuela) in order to go to Baltimore and take a physical, and that he was honored to be the centerpiece in a trade for a pitcher of Bedard's caliber. Of course that started a chain reaction of pure chaos. Officials from both teams were contacted, neither very happy about receiving phone calls from the press, and both denying that an agreement has been struck. Other players that have long been rumored to have been included in trade talks were all surveyed and none of them were aware of any deal (usually, the player and their agents are the first people to know when they are traded). It is all confusing and, most of all, frustrating.

However, there is hope. Word is that the deal has yet to be reviewed by Peter Angelos. The report is that he has been unavailable all day today, so he hasn't been able to review the possible deal and give it the yay or nay. If he holds true to his agreement with Andy MacPhail, this should only be a formality, but it would still be enough to keep the deal from being completed and therefore keep all the involved players in the dark.

It's possible that Adam Jones' "knowledge" could have come from an accidental leak, or maybe he misinterpreted something he heard. It's impossible to tell.

Another positive sign is it looks like the Mariners could already be lining up Adam Jones' replacement. If the Mariners are looking at adding another outfielder, they are likely preparing for Jones' departure.

I don't know about you, but I'll be anxiously awaiting more details tonight or tomorrow. Angelos should be available to meet with MacPhail about this trade, and a decision could be reached. Or we could get more of the same, and hear nothing but rumors and be strung along in the Bedard-trade-talks for another week or two. I can't help but think we'll be hearing more than rumors.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Will Dodgertown become Orioletown?

The Dodgers organization has built up quite the tradition in Vero Beach, FL, their spring training location for the past 60 years. Over those years it has affectionately been known as "Dodgertown". The Brooklyn Dodgers began using the facilities there in 1948. The team has since become the Los Angelos Dodgers, but kept having spring training in Vero Beach because of "tradition". It looks as though that "tradition" will be coming to an end. They've agreed to move their spring training site to Glendale, Arizona starting in 2009. It offers several advantages for them. I'm sure the facilities will be more up-to-date. Vero Beach is largely unchanged from its early days. The biggest advantage, though, is the proximity to Los Angelos. It's only about a 1 hour flight or a 5 hour drive. That is much more accessible for the fans and players alike. I would expect a much larger showing of Dodger faithful in Glendale than there have been in Vero Beach.

The timing of the move is particularly interesting for our Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles lease with their current facilities in Fort Lauderdale, FL runs out in 2009, and they have been having problems. The city and the Orioles have agreed that certain repairs need to be made, but they aren't the only two parties involved. The fields are adjacent to an executive airport and these plans for repair need to be approved by the Federal Aviation Authority, too, as they need to be looking out for their own future possibilities of expansion. The FAA has delayed these repairs for over a year now.

Another problem that the Orioles have with Fort Lauderdale is that the practice facilities are too small. They are forced to divide their major and minor league training camps (minor league camp is in Sarasota, FL). This handicaps the Orioles in how flexible they can be with their player development during spring training. Intrasquad scrimmages are much more difficult to pull off, and there is no way to slowly expose young players to big league camp. This problem would not exist in Vero Beach, which has plenty of space.

The Orioles have signed an option agreement with Indian River County (where Vero Beach is) in which they'll discuss taking over Dodgertown when the Dodgers leave. However, the Orioles say they are still committed to the city of Fort Lauderdale.

I think that if the FAA doesn't reach a conclusion regarding the planned repairs to the Orioles current facility soon (maybe before the end of this year's spring training), and if those repairs don't include expanding to an adequate size for both camps, then the Orioles need to start looking at Vero Beach much more seriously. It might not necessarily save the Orioles all the money they would have spent on repairs, as those facilities could use some updates as well; at least replacing the rec-league style benches with real dugouts. However, the advantages it offers for player development are more than worth it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It keeps getting better

We all know the saying, patience is a virtue. I don't remember the exact words that MacPhail used when first talking about his plan for the O's, but he talked about the need for patience. Well, so far, he has practiced what he's preached. There have been rumors of more big moves by the Orioles but none of them have come to fruition. The one deal he has made, trading shortstop Miguel Tejada, is looking better and better by the day.

Houston Astros owner, Drayton McLane, says he has no regrets about acquiring Tejada, but I have a hard time believing him. The trade had its negatives from the beginning, with Tejada being named in the Mitchell Report, which was released the day after the trade was announced. Now it only gets worse for McLane and the Astros.

How bad it gets depends on what the Department of Justice decides to do. They have been asked to investigate whether or not Tejada lied to federal investigators in 2005. The lie in contention is when he told investigators that he had never taken steriods and didn't know anyone who had. The Mitchell Report says that he has taken steroids. The question is whether or not he knew he was taking them, since they won't punish the lie if he honestly thought it was the truth.

If they find him guilty he may not be playing much baseball this year. Martha Stewart spent 5 months in jail for lying to federal investigators about her knowledge of insider trading. Those 5 months were the minimum she could have gotten. Five months is almost as long as the MLB season, so there goes one season. Or, even worse, Tejada could find himself out of the league altogether. He is a legal U.S. resident with a green card, but that can be revoked just by admitting he committed a crime for which he is being investigated.

It's too early to tell exactly what will happen. The Department of Justice may not go through with the investigation, they may not have sufficient evidence to find him guilty, or he could find himself in prison or back home in the Dominican Republic this summer. All I know, is that I'm glad he's not the Orioles headache anymore.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Gossage Makes the Hall of Fame... And That’s It?!

On Tuesday, January 8th, BBWAA’s ballot results were announced. Congratulations are due to Rich “Goose” Gossage for making the Hall of Fame. He is the scariest man ever to wear a fu manchu, and a pretty good pitcher, too.

Jim Rice just missed the necessary amount of votes (75%) with 72.2%. Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven weren’t too far behind with 65.9% and 61.9% of the votes (Gossage received 85.8%). All those results were improvements from last year’s ballot. What I’m most surprised by is the lack of votes for outfielder Tim Raines, receiving only 24.3%.

Each writer who has a vote has a slightly different opinion of what a player needs to achieve to get Hall of Fame consideration, but, for the most part, a career that lasts long enough with consistent results and includes a dominant peak will receive more support. Tim “Rock” Raines may have been slightly different than most cases, being that by the time he got to his “peak years”, when most players play the best ball of their careers, Raines’ best play was behind him. However, there isn’t any reason why his time from age 21-27 can’t be considered his peak. When looking at a speedster like Raines, it increases the odds that his best play will be when he is younger anyway.

Raines broke into the league in 1981 with the Montreal Expos and put up a .304 batting average, with a .391 on base percentage and 71 stolen bases. He did that in only 88 games. He proceeded to steal a minimum of 70 bases per year through the 1986 season (6 years in a row) with a high of 90 in 1983. Edit: He is the only person to ever steal 70 or more bases 6 years in a row. Even though the streak ended, 1987 was arguably his best year as he hit .330 with a .429 on base percentage, .526 slugging percentage, led the league in runs scored with 123, had 18 home runs, 68 RBI and 50 stolen bases. His “peak years” are certainly worthy of the Hall. He was an explosive, game changing player and his only superior as a lead off hitter was the man who will go down as the greatest of all time, Rickey Henderson.

Like I said, his career did start to go down hill from there. He admitted to having picked up a cocaine addiction and it no doubt affected his play. If he had stayed clean, we may be having an entirely different conversation about Tim Raines. And to those who say that the cocaine addiction may have something to do with his low vote total, I say you’re taking the character aspect of player evaluation a little too far. He didn’t cheat and there are plenty of players with questionable character in the Hall of Fame already. Besides, we are a nation of second chances, eager to forgive those who repent of their sins (sometimes even if they don’t). Tim Raines did kick his addiction and became a great clubhouse presence and role model for younger players. Anyway, even though he battled a drug addiction through some of his prime years, he was still an above average player the rest of his career and was able to retire with good totals.

He is fifth all time with 808 stolen bases and has the highest stolen base percentage of any player with more than 300 attempts. A good way to argue whether a player is “Hall worthy” is to compare him to players that are already in. The most comparable player who is already in the Hall of Fame is Lou Brock. The biggest advantage Brock has over Raines is that he reached 3,000 hits. He ended with 3,023 compared to Raines’ 2,605. Brock also has over 100 more stolen bases with 938, but Raines’ success rate is almost 10% higher. Many of their other numbers are very similar: runs scored are within 40 of each other, doubles within 56, triples within 28, home runs within 29, RBI within 80, batting average within .001 points, and slugging percentage within .015 points. On base percentage is Raines’ biggest advantage over Lou Brock. Brock’s career on base percentage is .343 and Raines’ is .385. As lead off hitters, that cannot be overlooked.

Considering that Tim Raines’ best years are dominant enough to garner Hall of Fame votes and he was consistent enough over the length of his career to post career totals very similar (and in one important statistic much better) to a current Hall of Famer, I refuse to believe that Tim Raines does not belong in the Hall.

What makes this such a big deal? Raines still has 14 years left on the ballot, right? He’s got plenty of time left to get in. The reason I’ve got my panties in a twist over this is because that Hall of Famer I’ve compared him with, Lou Brock, was inducted on his first year on the ballot, 1985, with 80% of the vote. Tim Raines only received 24.3%. There shouldn’t be that big of a gap between them.

Orioles-Cubs Trade Rumors Reach New High

Trade rumors centered round Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts reached a new high today. It got so out of hand that word was floating around that a deal was actually finalized. That deal was for 24 year old shortstop Ronny Cedeno, 22 year old pitching prospect Sean Gallagher and 25 year old pitcher Sean Marshall. However, when asked if those rumors where true, Andy MacPhail denied them, saying it is “very inaccurate” and that nothing has changed since last night. It’s possible that he’s only referring to the fact that it’s not finalized yet, or he could be referring to the package of players coming to Baltimore. I’m hoping that it has something to do with the players.

Ronny Cedeno would be given every opportunity to win the starting shortstop job for the Orioles, but I’m not convinced he’s starting material. He’s better than anything we’ve got in our system, but he has had several chances to stick in the big leagues and hasn’t been able to do it. He proved that he can crush Class AAA pitching, hitting over .350 in 2005 and 2007, but it hasn’t translated to big league success, as his lifetime .247 batting average and 25:138 walks to strikeout ratio attest (he spent all of 2006 and parts of 2005 and 2007 in the majors).

Sean Gallagher is intriguing if for no other reason than his age. His minor league numbers have been good and he’s risen through the system quickly. He just turned 22 in December and he’s already started 8 games at Class AAA and thrown 14-2/3 innings of relief in the big leagues. Supposedly, he’s a favorite of Andy MacPhail’s from his time with the Cubs.

Sean Marshall is huge (6’-7”) and left handed. He threw 103-1/3 innings for the Cubs last year with a 3.92 ERA. He would be given a spot in the O’s rotation right away, and the domino affect there, is it would make it easier to finalize a trade for Erik Bedard because we wouldn’t be forced to sign a FA or use a rookie to fill Bedard’s spot in the rotation. (None of the trade proposals for Bedard have included major league ready starting pitchers.)

Is that package enough for Brian Roberts, a solid second baseman and one of the best leadoff hitters in the game? I don’t think so. It’s close, but not quite. I’d like to see them throw in another prospect, maybe second baseman Eric Patterson, or outfielder Matt Murton. With all of our pitching prospects who are, or should be, close to the major leagues, coupled with the knowledge that we’re not going to compete this year, I would put a higher emphasis on Patterson than Marshall. Cedeno, Patterson, Gallagher and Murton/Marshall would be a good package. I didn’t say anything about Patterson earlier, but he had a nice season at Class AAA last year, so with a decent spring he could be the starting second baseman on opening day. And in case you were wondering… yes, he is the younger brother of last season’s centerfielder Corey Patterson and yes, he is more disciplined at the plate.

Bedard Trade Talks Intensify

Intensify!?! That’s a buzz word right there, and it could mean what ever you want it to mean. In this case, it most likely means that the conversations between organizations are getting more serious because they are running out of time. Andy MacPhail has said that he doesn’t foresee any big trades happening after the end of January (so we only have a few weeks before we find out if I have to eat my words from my 1st post, “Where are all the headlines?”). At that time he will focus on filling team needs on a more short term basis through free agent signings and maybe smaller trades. He doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to fill a need (CF & SS) because he was shooting for long term and couldn’t pull it off. Something is better than nothing.

Some positive news regarding Bedard trade talks is that, although they may not be as “intense” as some reports say, Baltimore and Seattle may be getting closer to reaching an agreement. Other clubs are being rumored to still be in the arms race for Bedard, but it seems like Seattle is the only real player left. Seattle GM Bill Bavasi has expressed that he’s not satisfied with what they have in their rotation and he hopes it’s not too late to get Bedard. Any possible deal will feature 22 year old centerfielder Adam Jones. What was thought to be a previous deal breaker was 23 year old pitcher Brandon Morrow’s availability, or the lack thereof. Seattle did not want to include him in any deal, but rumor has it that he’s not as off limits as he used to be. 17 year old shortstop Carlos Triunfel, 19 year old pitching prospect Chris Tillman, 20 year old pitching prospect Anthony Butler and big league reliever George Sherrill’s names have also been mentioned. If MacPhail can get away with Adam Jones, Brandon Morrow, Carlos Triunfel and Chris Tillman for Bedard, I will sing his praises. I’m not as sold on Jones being a sure-thing-star-player as many other people, but that’s still a truly impressive package of players. It’s probably not going to happen, but a guy can dream.

Without Adam Jones in their lineup, maybe Seattle would be more interested in Orioles outfielder Jay Payton, too. We could add him to the trade to sweeten the deal. He could serve as their 4th outfielder, defensive substitute or maybe a platoon player. I’d rather get rid of him anyway, and it would free up another spot on the 40 man roster. I’m sure Tike Redman and Chris Roberson would be available also, in the same scenario.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Orioles lose former 3rd round draft pick

If you read the fine print of outfielder Chris Roberson's acquisition from the Phillies, you would have noticed that in order to make room for him on the 40 man roster, outfielder Jeff Fiorentino was designated for assignment. In the process of his removal from the 40 man roster, he was exposed to waivers and claimed by the Cincinnati Reds. Fiorentino, a 24 year old left handed hitter, spent the last two seasons at Class AA Bowie. The 2007 season saw him hit .282 with 15 home runs, 65 RBI, 68 runs scored, a .346 OBP and .445 SLG in 126 games. He projects as a 4th outfielder in the major leagues, but he'll most likely end up back at Class AA or AAA for the 2008 season.

Fiorentino has seen some playing time for the Orioles in the 2005 and 2006 seasons. It wasn't much of a sample size (only 83 at bats total), but my impressions were that he had a nice short stroke and could be a solid player. He obviously had some more developing to do, though, and that's why he's still in the minor leagues.

I have to say that I'm disappointed to see Fiorentino go, but Roberson is more likely to help the big league ball club now, so it's an understandable move.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Oakland trades Moneyball love child

This afternoon, the Chicago White Sox pried outfielder Nick Swisher away from the Oakland Athletics for 3 prospects: pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Fautino de los Santos, and outfielder Ryan Sweeney.

When Oakland traded Dan Haren before Christmas, they unabashedly revealed their intentions. They are rebuilding. The trading of Swisher fixes them upon that path. The switch hitting 27 year old, Nick Swisher, was supposed to be a player to build around. He was featured as a particular player of interest for Billy Beane when he took over the draft in 2002, as written in the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Swisher can play all three outfield positions and first base, he can hit with power (20+ homers in every full season at the majors; 3 years and counting), and he can work a count (.361 career OBP, .381 last season).

Nick Swisher will, assumedly, play centerfield for the White Sox and help solidify their lineup. If newly acquired left fielder Carlos Quentin can prove that he’s healthy (he spent time on the DL with a shoulder and hamstring injury last year) and live up to is potential, the White Sox offense could be formidable. Swisher is a big addition to their roster, especially considering that he is still under contract for the next four seasons (thru 2011) with a club option for a fifth (2012). That most assuredly drove up the asking price for Swisher, and it shows in what Oakland received for him.

Oakland got a nice package of players headlined by left hander Gio Gonzalez, but he isn’t the only one with talent. Gonzalez is small of stature, only 5’-11”, leading to questions of durability, but throws a pretty good fastball and one of the best curveballs in the minor leagues. He had 185 strikeouts in only 150 innings last season at AA. ranked him as the 24th best prospect in all of baseball. We might see him in Oakland sometime in 2008, depending on how fast they want to rush him through the system. Fautino de los Santos has only played one season of professional ball, split between Class A and Class A Advanced, but he has dominated thus far. He threw 122 1/3 innings and registered 153 strikeouts with only 43 walks and 69 hits allowed. He is a long way away from the majors, but looks promising. Ryan Sweeney is more of a replacement player, if you ask me. He plays good defense and has a history of posting good on base percentages (a big plus in GM Billy Beane’s eyes), but he has never hit for much power. He’s never hit more than 13 homers in the minors and he has a minor league career slugging percentage of .401. He hasn’t performed very well in his 80 career big league at bats either. He will compete for a roster spot though. Whether he makes it depends a lot on other players. Travis Buck is assured a spot and so is Mark Kotsay if he’s healthy. With Swisher gone, I expect top prospect Carlos Gonzalez to get a longer look in spring training. And Chris Denorfia will be trying to come back from tommy john surgery this spring, too. If they decide to carry 5 outfielders, I will be shocked if Sweeney isn’t one of them.

It seems to have been an expensive trade for the White Sox in terms of talent given up, which is good for Oakland. But getting a player of Nick Swisher’s caliber just as he’s entering his prime and who is under contract for 4 years, makes it worth it. This is a trade that should help both clubs.

Where are all the headlines?

I apologize if you were looking for more of an introduction from my first post, but I’d much rather just dig right in!

Not long ago, Andy MacPhail and the Orioles were abuzz with trade talks. It was expected that the fans would be looking at a very different roster come spring training, after MacPhail was finished orchestrating blockbuster deal after blockbuster deal. The hot stove season even started off with a bang with the trade of Miguel Tejada to the Astros for 5 players. However, as you probably have noticed, things have slowed down a bit and don’t be surprised if most of the excitement is behind us. That doesn’t mean that MacPhail is done and will sit pat with what he’s got, but the rest of his plans to remodel the roster may resemble the recent purchase of outfielder Chris Roberson from the Phillies for cash. Roberson doesn’t have a ton of upside. A best case scenario would probably have him playing a good defensive centerfield everyday and batting near the bottom of the lineup. Smaller moves, such as this one, designed to create more depth and competition in spring training, is all I see coming between now and the start of the ’08 season.

There are still players that MacPhail could look to trade, but the likelihood of their being moved is dwindling by the day. Melvin Mora, Aubrey Huff and Jay Payton could all be traded, but it will be hard to find anyone who is willing to give up much for them, not to mention the problem presented by Mora’s full no-trade clause.

Everyone is interested in Erik Bedard, but MacPhail is seeking a talent loaded package of players in return. The most interested/motivated organizations have also made other moves that decrease their sense of urgency. The Dodgers signed Japanese import Hiroki Kuroda, Seattle signed starting pitcher Carlos Silva and Cincinnati traded for pitching prospect Edinson Volquez. None of those arms are of Bedard’s caliber, but they do offer their prospective teams more depth at starting pitcher and decreases the likelihood that they’ll be willing to empty their farm system for him. MacPhail released a statement that Bedard will most likely be our opening day starter, and that may be the best way to go. If we can’t get the package we want for Bedard now, wait until someone is willing to give it. Once the season starts and injuries start to pile up, we may have more teams calling MacPhail to check on Bedard’s availability. The same could apply to Mora, Huff and Payton.

If you’re dying to see one more big trade by the Orioles this winter, second baseman Brian Roberts is probably your best bet. The Cubs have expressed interest and MacPhail is very familiar with their farm system, so a deal could be struck there. The problem with that is that any deal with the Cubs for Roberts will most likely either leave the Orioles with a glaring hole at second base and at the top of the lineup, or the package we’d be seeking wouldn’t have the upside worthy of a trade for the 2 time All-Star. In case you didn’t follow, I’m referring to either targeting the best prospects we could get from the Cubs, or making sure Roberts’ replacement is included.

All things considered, the Orioles are still committed to rebuilding. The headlines are just different.