2007 Baltimore Orioles

It was suggested I take a look at the Orioles’ prospects for 2007, so here we go.

Mike Flanagan’s contract obligations:

C – Ramon Hernandez – $6.5MM
C – J.R. House – $0.38MM
1B –
2B – Brian Roberts – $3.075MM
SS – Miguel Tejada – $12MM
3B – Melvin Mora – $8MM
IF – Brandon Fahey – $0.38MM
LF –
CF – Corey Patterson – $2.8MM
RF – Nick Markakis – $0.38MM
OF – David Newhan – $0.55MM
OF – Adam Stern – $0.38MM
DH – Jay Gibbons – $5MM

SP – Erik Bedard – $1.4MM
SP – Daniel Cabrera – $0.385MM
SP – Kris Benson – $7.5MM
SP – Jaret Wright – $3MM
SP – Rodrigo Lopez – $3.75MM
SP – Adam Loewen – $0.8MM

RP – Chris Ray – $0.38MM
RP – Todd Williams – $0.775MM
RP – Hayden Penn – $0.38MM
RP – John Parrish – $0.6125MM
RP – Kurt Birkins – $0.38MM
RP – Brian Burres – $0.38MM
RP – Brian Finch – $0.38MM
RP – Sendy Rleal – $0.38MM

The contracts should be in the ballpark of $52 million after accounting for some raises.  The club entered 2006 with a $72.5MM payroll, so there is money to burn.  The Orioles have been somewhere between contention and rebuilding for a few years now, kind of like the Cubs.  They can’t seem to commit, and this offseason looks like no exception.

Plenty of options to fill the first base void; the O’s were a bit below average at the position in ’06.  Free agent options: more Kevin Millar, maybe Nomar, Aubrey Huff, Craig Wilson, or Shea Hillenbrand.  The trade market could include Gary Sheffield, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Delgado, Todd Helton, Chris Duncan, Chris Shelton, or Adam Dunn.

Many of the above-mentioned names would be suitable solutions in left field as well.  Left field also opens up the following possibilities: Alfonso Soriano, Pat Burrell, Moises Alou, Carlos Lee, David Dellucci, Frank Catalanotto, Geoff Jenkins, Kevin Mench, or Luis Gonzalez.  Of course we know that Burrell has said he won’t waive his no-trade for the Orioles.

There’s even talk of moving Melvin Mora to left field.  He last played there in 2003.  That opens up still more options to find that big-name slugger.

Some of these names are inspiring, others make Orioles fans wince.  Ken Rosenthal recently spoke to a GM who thought the O’s would win the Soriano derby at 6/94.  Personally I wouldn’t be surprised to see something less splashy, like Millar, Alou, Dellucci, or Gonzalez.  The O’s have been left standing in the game of free agent musical chairs in recent years.  On the other hand, this is the same club that signed Miguel Tejada and Albert Belle.

Lopez will be offered arbitration, and Benson did not demand a trade.  The rotation currently has six pitchers at the moment.    Change is likely – Lopez could be moved (perhaps to the NL) and a mid-tier free agent could be signed.  I could see Jeff Suppan.  Baltimore will also need both Cabrera and Loewen take a step forward (entirely possible) to have decent starting pitching.   

The O’s will need a lot of bullpen help, as most of their starters don’t average six innings.  Maybe a deal for an innings eater like Salomon Torres or Scot Shields could work.  Darren Oliver, Ron Villone, or Jamie Walker could be added via free agency.   

To me, this Orioles club is fairly Cub-like.  A few stars, some foolish long-term deals, a promising core of young pitching.  The Cubs don’t have a Markakis type position player, though.  In my opinion neither club should be trying to compete in 2007, especially the one in the AL East.  With some luck and shrewd moves the Orioles might find a way, yes.  Is this really a shrewd front office though?

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