The Orioles made a rare smart move last year in stealing Corey Patterson from the Cubs for a 1990 Jerome Walton Starting Lineup figure.
Patterson was insanely bad in 2005, but regained his power stroke last year. He hit less grounders and more line drives to get his batting average back up to a respectable level. Combined with good defense and a spot towards the bottom of the order, he's an asset. It's been a while since he hit left-handed pitchers, but he did post a decent line against them in 2003-04.
Patterson is a Scott Boras client. While the O's are interested retaining his services, they'll address it after the season. Is this the right course? Tough to say. If the Orioles wait back and Patterson posts another tolerable batting line with a gaudy steals total and some flashy D, Boras will price him out of their range. If they somehow convince Patterson to sign now, they run the risk that 2006 was a fluke.
Patterson will turn 28 in August; his youth is only matched by two other 2008 free agents - Adam Dunn and Carlos Zambrano. There seems to be a surplus of free agent center fielders next offseason. Perhaps Boras would convince Patterson to wait back and sign a one-year deal in February if he doesn't get that huge Gary Matthews Jr. offer.
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