Wednesday, January 9, 2008

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.

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