Catching up and looking ahead- Notes on prospects, Rodney, starters, Jones
Apologies that the blog has been a little slow the past week as I returned from my final vacation before the season starts. While there hasn’t been much that much news out of Baltimore, and Orioles.com had you covered with some of the smaller announcements, here’s a brief roundup of some recent happenings…
*The Orioles announced yesterday that they signed Aaron Laffey to a Minor League deal, first reported by my MLB.com colleague Anthony Castrovince, and the left-hander will add organizational depth. Laffey is not expected to be in big league camp. (More on that here.)
*With Grant Balfour off the board –signing a two-year, $12-million deal with the Rays– rumors surfaced yesterday that the Orioles were making progress in adding free agent Fernando Rodney. While it makes sense –Rodney is the best available closer and the O’s have money to spend- most of Thursday’s reports were exaggerated as the O’s interest in Rodney can be categorized as lukewarm right now. Things could change, but the emphasis is on adding rotation help in the final few weeks of the offseason.
Balfour, who was rumored to be filing a grievance against the Orioles after a two-year, $15-million deal fell through, indicated to several Rays reporters that something may still happen there.
“I’m not going to comment on it. We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I’m here to stay. I have a contract with the Rays, and anything else that’s going to happen on that part will be taken care of, and we’ll move forward. That’s not going to affect anything I’ve got going here. I’m moving on. I’m glad to be here, really happy to be here. That stuff is going to be taken care of by other people on my behalf.”
*So, who is left on the free agent starting pitching front? The biggest, and most likely, three names for the O’s are Bronson Arroyo, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana. A.J. Burnett is also still out there, although he reportedly isn’t returning the Pirates calls, so it’s looking more and more likely that he will retire.
The Orioles have had rumored interest in all three of those guys and –while they have money to spend– price will be a factor as well as the length of the contract. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said earlier this winter that he would be willing to go three or more years on a free agent arm in the right scenario. Is this that scenario?
Right-hander Matt Garza signed a four-year, $52-million deal with the Brewers yesterday so the rest of the starting market could move quickly. Both Jimenez and Santana would cost the Orioles a draft pick, due to declining their qualifying offers, while Arroyo would not.
*MLB.com released its list of the Top 100 Prospects on Thursday, with the Orioles represented in the trio of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Eduardo Rodriguez. You can read the full article here and check out my recent stories on Gausman and Rodriguez, both in the news section of Orioles.com.
*Finally, the always-quotable Adam Jones was in New York earlier this week for Tuesday’s “Going to Bat for B.A.T.” Dinner at the Marriott Marquis. Jones talked about the Orioles outlook, football and his competitiveness, below…
(on the O’s offseason so far) “If you know me, my expectations are always high. I know one thing, we’re going to be ready to grind and show up to play every day. You just need 25 men who are ready and willing to reach a common goal.
We’re returning our entire defense, except [Nate] McLouth, we had a great defense last year, that’s what kept us alive. We’ve got to get better on the mound, situational hitting, getting on base. It’s an overall team game, that’s why you have Spring Training, to go back to the drawing board.”
(on the competitive balance in the AL East) “The last two years we had good years. We went to the playoffs and then finished eight games above .500 last year. The last two years have been amazing in the city of Baltimore. Now, you’ve got to get better. I know our fans are happy we put a better team on the field the last couple of years, but our fans are hungrier — they want that ring in the city of Baltimore. As a team, that’s how your fans should be talking. We need that kick in the pants sometimes. We go out and play for them every game.
Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio, I think, said, I play hard every day, because there’s a young kid in the stands and it might be his only chance to see me play. I remember reading that, that’s why I bring it every day.”
(on his Super Bowl pick) “Broncos or Seahawks? I need to see Peyton Manning win his second one. He’s my favorite player, and I think to solidify his career. He’s the greatest regular season QB ever, but to solidify him as a top-five QB ever, I think he needs that second ring.”
(On Richard Sherman’s comments) “That was awesome. Passion. The only thing I probably wouldn’t have done is put your hands to your throat and say [Colin] Kaepernick choked…but I probably would have done that, too, in the heat of the passion. Those are rivals. They don’t like each other. You don’t see New York and Boston shaking hands after a game. That’s the sport we’re getting away from. Nowadays, everyone wants to hug. I don’t want to hug you. After the game, You just kicked the crap out of me. I don’t want to talk to you. And if I kick the crap out of me, I don’t want you to talk to me. That’s old school. That’s the part that we’re losing in all sports, is the old school. Everything is ticky-tack now.
People are friends. But at the end of the day, if my mom was on the mound, I’d take her deep.”