Monday morning musings..
First and foremost, a big win (and Nebraska loss) for my Michigan State Spartans on Saturday. A spot in the B1G (Big Ten Championship game) and a glimmer of hope for Pasadena! (Yes, I can be as incredibly hopeful/delusional as possible involving my alma mater.)
Now, a few Orioles notes for you to start this holiday week…
*The Orioles have inquired about Rockies closer Huston Street, according to MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal. That potential trade pairing would make sense for the O’s given manager Buck Showalter’s preference to put setup man Jim Johnson in the rotation without pillaging a bullpen that already needs some reworking for next season. Closer Kevin Gregg didn’t perform up to expectations and while there’s a case to be made for Johnson as closer, there’s also a case to add him to a very thin rotation.
Think about it. There’s a lack of free agent starting pitching depth this winter and teams are becoming more and more reluctant to part with it via trade or even as prospects. The Orioles need to fix their starting rotation, adding 2-3 Major League ready caliber arms. How they go about doing that, whether it’s adding Johnson or trying to seek outside help, remains to be seen. But their best bet might be to restock the bullpen from outside the organization and move Johnson to rotation.
*New executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette touched base with about 15 GMs during the recent meetings, and he seemed encouraged with the initial conversations, calling the meetings beneficial in helping seek out potential trade partners. Remember , a lot of the groundwork for what happens at baseball’s Winter Meetings takes place at the GM meetings in November. And Duquette seemed to be more willing to trade and shore up the Orioles international efforts than spend big money elsewhere.
*The Orioles scouting director search started last week and those efforts will be ramped up this week. There are internal and external candidates being considered and once that hire is made you should see a domino effect as far as several other hires announced.
*The Orioles coaching staff should be resolved soon as well, and since I’ve been asked this a whole bunch of times it bears repeating: they are looking to hire a bullpen coach and third base coach. All of the other coaches are expected to remain in their current roles from last season, meaning John Russell will continue as bench coach (where he ended the season) and Rick Adair as pitching coach.
*Duquette’s international plan that was referenced in his introductory presser has already started to take form and is in the initial stages. Again, it’s about putting the right people in the right places and there is expected to be additions made on that front as well.
*I’m planning a long overdue Orioles inbox to address all other offseason questions. You can email me at email@example.com and include your first name and hometown for submission. Please try to limit the “Are we getting Prince Fielder?” questions. If there’s one thing you can immediately take out of Duquette’s initial presser it’s that the Orioles aren’t going to be overly aggressive in signing high-priced free agents.
When asked at the GM meetings about his comments to try to “throw water” on the Fielder to the Orioles rumors, Duquette had this to say:
“I didn’t say yes, I didn’t say no,” he said. “I did say I was more comfortable signing players out of markets other than the premium free agents.”
*Finally, I’m deeply saddened to hear the news of Mariners’ outfielder Greg Halman’s death. There will be plenty of reaction around the league on MLB.com today, but I wanted to take the time to say my thoughts and prayers go out to Halman, who was just 24 years old and reportedly stabbed to death. I exchanged emails with Orioles pitcher Rick VandenHurk –who just toured Europe with Halman — and he was still in shock, writing that he was at a “complete loss for words.” O’s outfielder Adam Jones –who came up through the Seattle system and was on the European big league tour — took to Twitter early this morning to express his sympathies as well.
You can read more on that here.