With the all-star break coming to a close and MLB getting ready to resume play tomorrow, there are a few things about to come down the pipeline as we progress through the season. First off, before league play even resumes tomorrow the Orioles will have to have signed their first round pick in last month’s draft – Kevin Gausman - by 5 PM. Gausman said earlier in the week that “his heart was still with LSU,” however that may well have been contract posturing. Steve Melewski of masnsports.com reported that the team had had a new offer to Gausman, and that they’re fairly confident that a deal will get done. In a nutshell, if Gausman fails to sign by the deadline he’ll return to LSU and the Orioles will get a compensatory first round pick in 2013.
Perhaps more prominently, the trade deadline comes up at the end of the month. Dan Duquette has said that the Orioles will be buyers this year, and rightfully so given their first half. However before we get to that, is there a piece that the Orioles could “sell” in order to bolster their system? The current plan is for the Orioles to activate catcher Taylor Teagarden (for whom the Orioles traded in December) prior to tomorrow’s game with Detroit. The obvious choice to be sent down would be Ronnie Paulino, who’s handled most of the backup catching duties in Teagarden’s absence. However I’ve heard rumblings that the Mets are looking for some help behind the dish…could the Orioles not offer Paulino in some sort of trade scenario? Granted I don’t think he would garner much (possibly a low-level prospect or a PTBNL). However it would solve a problem the Orioles have in terms of the number of players on the roster, as well as get something in return for a guy. Given Teagarden’s injury history I suppose that could be a risky move; however also keep in mind that we’re talking about a player that will get into games once a week (twice max) in relief of Matt Wieters.
The Orioles of course are rumored to be “going hard” after Milwaukee starter Zach Greinke. They were one of several teams who sent a scout to Houston last weekend to see Greinke pitch against the Astros. Of course they didn’t see much because Greinke was ejected from the game after throwing four pitches because he spiked the ball after a bang-bang play. However Milwaukee ran Greinke out there to start the next day as well, which tells me that they are trying desperately to move him. Granted he only threw four pitches the first time out however pitchers are pretty particular about their routines, and there is a process that they have to go through in order to warm up (long toss and so forth). That’s taxing on their arms as it is.
There’s no question that the Orioles are interested in Greinke, and more importantly they need help in the starting rotation. The issue at hand is what are they willing to give up? This isn’t as cut-and-dry as the Thome deal where they sent some prospects to Philadelphia and called it a day. Greinke’s a star pitcher in the prime of his career; for his Yin, the Orioles are going to have to send some Yang back to Milwaukee. Interestingly, former Oriole pitching coach Rick Kranitz currently holds that position with the Brewers. There’s some speculation that Milwaukee might be interested in someone like Matusz or perhaps even Arrieta. Would the Orioles make that deal? Speaking for myself, at this point I’d say go for it. However I think it’ll take more than that; I’ve also heard that the likes of Xavier Avery might be in play, and perhaps someone else in the Oriole farm system. Having said that, to the Brewer fans on Twitter who were salivating at the thought of getting Manny Machado or Dylan Bundy, just stop! Unless someone’s offering a Josh Hamilton-type player, I don’t think either of those guys are touchable.
Greinke’s just one name; ultimately I think that the need the Orioles need to address is pitching more than anything else. The good news is that the O’s have already activated Nick Markakis, so he’ll presumably be starting in right field the rest of the season. Endy Chavez might also be activated before tomorrow’s game, so that would be another piece the O’s would get back. Just prior to the break everyone was talking about how the Orioles didn’t have many true outfielders; now they’re getting guys back, so that need has been addressed. If there was anything else they might look at it would probably be corner infield positions, however again I firmly believe that starting pitching is the team’s most glaring need right now. The team will also have to make yet another roster move before Sunday when they’ll call Chris Tillman up from Bowie into the starting rotation, which could spell the end for Steve Tolleson (this time around at least). July is always an interesting month for MLB teams, and the 2012 Orioles are no exception!
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