Orioles fans are upset over the team's trade of closer Jim Johnson, and they want the team to become more active in the free-agent market, CSN Baltimore's Rich Dubroff writes. Dubroff suggests that Masahiro Tanaka would be a good target, but even if the Orioles don't aim that high, there should be plenty of starting pitching available, with Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Bronson Arroyo still on the market. Santana or Jimenez would require the O's to forfeit their first-round draft pick, however, and they likely won't want to do that. Fernando Rodney would be a good choice to replace Johnson at closer, Dubroff argues. Here are more notes on the Yankees and Orioles.
- The Orioles need to "make a statement" after backing away from their agreement with Grant Balfour, argues MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. Kubatko suggests that now would be a good time for the Orioles to begin signing free agent pitchers to four- or five-year deals, despite their reluctance to do so in the past.
- The Yankees need to sign Tanaka to have a good offseason, Richard Justice of MLB.com writes. The Yankees are unlikely to stack up well against their AL East rivals in Boston and Tampa with a rotation headed by C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova, Justice argues.
- If the Yankees sign Tanaka, he won't be the first Japanese ace they've acquired, Jay Schreiber and David Waldstein of the New York Times point out. They plucked Kei Igawa from the Hanshin Tigers prior to the 2007 season, paying $20MM plus a $26MM posting fee. Igawa pitched a total of 71 2/3 innings for New York, posting a 6.66 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9. Of course, Tanaka is a different pitcher, with statistical and scouting profiles more convincing than Igawa's. Schreiber and Waldstein point out, however, that Tanaka threw 160 pitches in a recent start, which is certainly a legitimate red flag.