2010 Off Season Preview

With free agency officially getting under way at midnight tonight I figured now was as good a time as any to try and guess what the Orioles will be doing over the off season. The Orioles improved alot after Buck Showalter took over for the last two months of the season, but that was mostly due to the starting pitching. The offense still needs alot of work and could stand to be upgraded at first base, third base, shortstop, and maybe even left field.

First and third are the most pressing needs. Last year we signed Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins to one year deals as stopgaps, hoping that Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder would be ready to take over for good by the end of the season. Unfortunately Tejada and Atkins disappointed in a big way and were both gone by August. Meanwhile, Bell and Snyder each had disappointing seasons and gave the Orioles reason to believe that they aren’t the answers at their respective positions. There are plenty of free agent options for first base. Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Adam LaRoche, Derrek Lee, Victor Martinez, and Carlos Pena are all guys that I could see the Orioles going after. Any one of them would be a significant upgrade. Berkman, Pena, and LaRoche are type B free agents that won’t cost the O’s a draft pick if they’re signed so that gives them a leg up over the other guys. I’m sure Andy MacPhail would be willing to give up a second round draft pick to get the right guy but it is interesting to note. Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder are the big names that could be available via trade but I don’t see us giving up what it would take to get one of them. On top of that we’d still have to sign whoever we got to an expensive extension.

Third base isn’t as easy to upgrade through free agency as the only enticing names on the market are Adrian Beltre and perhaps Jorge Cantu. If we can’t sign Beltre I’d like to see MacPhail get creative and trade for someone. Mark Reynolds for the Diamondbacks is available and so might David Wright for the Mets and Alex Gordon of the Royals. Reynolds would be the guy I’d target since he would be the easiest to acquire. Hes coming off a down year but he has serious power and I think he’ll bounce back. Jeremy Guthrie and Luke Scott are players that can be dangled in a trade but I think they’d only go in the right deal.

The Orioles seem content to bring back Cesar Izturis as the starting shortstop but I’m hoping they’ll explore all avenues to upgrade the position. Izturis was historically bad offensively last year and while hes good with the glove, its not enough to make up for the hole in the lineup he gives us. Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria from the world champion Giants will be free agents and JJ Hardy and Ryan Theriot could be non-tendered. Theres also the trade route for a guy like Jason Bartlett or a minor leaguer whos on the cusp. Derek Jeter is a free agent but you can forget about that. Theres no way he ends up anywhere other than the Yankees.

As far as other moves are concerned I could see us targeting guys like Colby Rasmus and Carlos Quinten if they can be had reasonably. The bench could also be addressed. Will Ty Wiggington return in a support role? Or do we bring in another versatile guy like Jerry Hairston? The rotation and bullpen are pretty set but I think we’ll bring in another starter and maybe a reliever or two for depth and the flexibility to make some trades. A guy with some room to grow like Jorge De La Rosa could be attractive to the team or we could go the veteran route with a Jon Garland or Hiroki Kuroda. I think we’ll being in a lefty reliever and maybe another guy depending on how things play out. Koji Uehara also should be re-signed but the O’s might choose to go in a different direction due to his inability to stay healthy.

Heres how I see things playing out as of right now:

– Sign Adam LaRoche to a two year, $18 million deal.
– Sign Juan Uribe to a two year, $11 million deal.
– Sign Hisanori Takahashi to a one year, $4 million deal.
– Sign Jorge De La Rosa to a three year, $27 million deal.
– Re-sign Koji Uehara to a one year, $5.5 million deal with a $6.5 million team option for 2012.
– Trade Josh Bell and Kam Mickolio to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Mark Reynolds.


2B Brian Roberts
RF Nick Markakis
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Mark Reynolds
DH Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
LF Felix Pie
SS Juan Uribe


C Craig Tatum
SS Robert Andino
OF Nolan Reimold
1B Brandon Snyder


Jeremy Guthrie
Brian Matusz
Jorge De La Rosa
Brad Bergesen
Jake Arrieta


Koji Uehara
Mike Gonzalez
Jim Johnson
David Hernandez
Hisanori Takahashi
Matt Albers
Rick VandenHurk

That lineup will put up runs and be competitive with that pitching staff. In this scenerio I have Jason Berken starting out at AAA Norfolk until he proves hes full strength. If so he replaces Albers or VandenHurk if either one is really struggling. Chris Tillman and Zach Britton each start out at AAA Norfolk also and can be called upon if theres a trade or an injury, or if Bergesen or Arrieta are struggling bad enough. I’d enjoy watching that team and if things broke the right way with our core talent progressing like we feel they should it might put us in contention. I’m sure things will end up much differently by February as we head into spring training but this is just one way the Orioles could wind up with a successful off season, at least by my standards.

Stay tuned for The Oriole Report’s top 25 prospect list heading into the 2011 season.


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