Fans are getting antsy. In the past, the phrase usually used there would be “Fans are pissed off.” Why? In past offseasons, the Orioles spend their time at the Winter Meetings looking at stopgap talents to fill in temporary holes on the roster, most of which don’t work out in the slightest of ways. This year, on the other hand, the Orioles front office is toying around with lots of ideas, mostly to bring in seasoned talents and players that have shown they can play consistently, as opposed to the 2009 signing of Garrett Atkins, for example, which was a total experimental project that hurt the organization in more ways than one. “Antsy” is the word to use here because the fan base is on the brink of anger, but still feeling that bit of hope that Andy MacPhail will for once have a successful and pleasing offseason.
For the second day in a row, the Orioles were involved in heavy rumors involving a shortstop. Today’s target was J.J. Hardy of the Minnesota Twins. While Zack Greinke continued to be shopped around and the Rays found a new home for Jason Bartlett (or not), intense talks heated up between the Orioles and Twins, with main sources stating that the Birds would be sending two minor league pitchers (one to be Brett Jacobson, acquired in 2009 for Aubrey Huff from the Tigers) to Minnesota in return for the 28 year old infielder. As opposed to the Bartlett talks (which are officially over supposedly), this trade is still in the works and both organizations are looking to make a deal. The Twins have Alexi Casilla to play SS, and would then intend to sign the Japanese infieler Tsuyoshi Nishioka to play second base (whom they won the bidding on for rights to negotiate).
Other than the Mets signing Boof Bonser (wait, that’s totally unrelated, I just chuckle at his name), the Orioles were relatively calm once again in the category of major announcements. There are ongoing talks with relievers as there were yesterday with multiple offers on the table. News that Paul Konerko re-signed with the White Sox and Carlos Pena agreed to a one year deal with the Cubs shortened the list of quality first basemen available on the free agent market. Left for the Orioles to look at are Adam LaRoche (who the Nationals have been rumored to be signing soon) and Derrick Lee. Nothing major has happened with either, so no need to think that one or the other is coming to Baltimore. Heck, both could sign elsewhere. Luckily, MacPhail seems to have the right thought that not just any filler will do, and that if the top first basemen are all off the board, then the club will switch over to looking at top DH options and fill the spot internally.
The Orioles were a name thrown around in talks about a few other players. Here they are, though don’t get your hopes up on any of the big names here (all with links): Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham, Kenshin Kawakami (again), Hideki Matsui (no new link), Octavio Dotel, and Magglio Ordonez (sort of). Those, and somehow the Orioles name appeared in the same post as Cliff Lee‘s. Odd.
On a side note, the Rule 5 Draft is tomorrow morning at 9 A.M. and the Orioles have the number four pick in it. Not only are there some interesting options out there, but the club could look to use this top pick to snag a player to then be used in a trade, specifically with the Twins for Hardy. In terms of Orioles eligible for the draft, look for names such as Wynn Pelzer, Ryan Adams, Billy Rowell, and more to possibly find new [temporary] homes.