You know, I am starting to warm up a bit more to the Mark Reynolds deal, though that might be more because he is now with the Orioles and fans are generally inclined to try to like the players on their team.  I still didn’t like handing away David Hernandez, but perhaps it had to be done.  Baltimore still managed to be more active than I expected at the Winter Meetings, particularly compared to last season when they all but waited until Spring Training to sign whoever was left over.  Thanks for the memories, Garrett Atkins.  With the possible addition of Adam LaRoche, this lineup could contain a lot more power than in years past, but be prepared for a frustrating number of strikeouts on a team that already struggled with that last year.  Here’s a bit more baseball, and some national sports as we line up for the kick…

Boston Takes a Leap, but Orioles Fans Shouldn’t Fret About It

Yes, the Red Sox added Carl Crawford and traded for Adrian Gonzalez.  They added two  of the best hitters in baseball in the prime of their careers, losing only Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre, upgrading themselves at two spots in the order.  After signing Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy, Orioles fans and media have presupposed that the gap in the AL East has widened and that the sledding will only get tougher.  Well, that is half right.  After the Yankees grab Cliff Lee (which, let’s be honest, they will find the money), the Yankees and Red Sox will both be massively improved on last season.  However, the Rays, winners of 96 games last year, have lost Crawford, Carlos Pena, Jason Bartlett (who knows if Reid Brignac will be as good), and almost their entire bullpen, including closer Rafael Soriano.  It is fair to say they have taken a big step backwards.

Moreover, excuse me if I am not that upset that the Red Sox are three times as good as the Orioles rather than twice as good anymore.  Baltimore still managed to go 9-9 against them in 2010.  New York?  Not as good, 5-13.  The Orioles will always struggle against their division- where they stand to pick up games is against the rest of the AL- their 2-4 record against Kansas City, 3-7 versus Oakland, 3-6 versus Seattle.  Once they start beating even the teams outside the AL East, then I’ll worry about catching up with the big boys.

Urban Meyer Retires as Florida’s Head Coach

When Urban Meyer says he is stepping down to be with his family, I am inclined to believe him, and I cannot help but be struck by those who compare him to Brett Favre.  He retired last season after a major health scare, worried that continuing to coach could cost him his life.  His wife, friends, and colleagues convinced him to stay in the game, so he backed off of that.  After this season he realized that he did want to see his children’s games, didn’t want to spend days and nights at the office, and I think we should applaud him for that.  He left a team that despite a 7-5 season was poised for a bounce back year, eschewing opportunities for championships to enjoy the things we take for granted.

I cannot grasp the rumors now swirling about what his next coaching gig will be, whether he will join Tim Tebow in Denver or sign on with some other major program.  He is retired, and I doubt he will see him for at least a couple years.  Or at least for his family’s sake, I hope so.  Brett Favre never said he was retiring for his family, he never said he wanted to spend more time with his children- he wanted his family to tell him to keep playing.  Let’s give Meyer the benefit of the doubt, and treat him like an honest person unless he proves us otherwise.