The Winter Meetings begin


Let’s be frank; the baseball off season is largely boring and uneventful, as is the case with most sports. (I love how people claim to care when NFL teams hold spring OTA’s each year. I’m as big a football fan as anyone but to use Allen Iverson’s term, it’s just practice.) However this week marks the zenith of the off season as all 30 teams will meet in Dallas, TX for the annual winter meetings. As Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter head to Dallas, one has to wonder what they might have in store for this week on the behalf of Oriole fans. (Just a quick clarifying point, Buck Showalter lives in the Dallas area so he won’t have to journey there; in effect, he has a bit of a home field advantage!)

The winter meetings are generally when we see some major movement in terms of player personnel. Numerous trades often break during the course of the week given that all of the owners/GM’s/coaches are right there in the same room together. So again, what moves will the O’s make? There have been numerous rumors dating back to before the regular season even ended regarding what the Orioles might do in the off season. You may remember that two years ago the Orioles traded reliever Chris Ray to Texas for starter Kevin Millwood during the winter meetings. At the time the move was applauded, but we all remember how that turned out. Nevertheless, when Dan Duquette came aboard he strongly indicated that the majority of the moves that the team made would come by way of trades. Therefore Mr. Duquette should be one of this year’s meetings’ stars.

One of the almost unspoken rumors has been that the O’s were shopping Adam Jones. If that’s true, they certainly aren’t publically discussing it. It’s mostly media speculation, however the fact is that Jones’ contract is up after the 2013 season. The idea is that you trade him so that you get something for him. My thing is why not extend him? Some people would argue that Jones is unlikely to sign a new contract with the Orioles because he’s unhappy with the direction of the franchise. I’m not in Jones’ inner circle, I don’t know his agent, etc., however from his public comments and with the way he carries himself he hardly appears to be a malcontent. Jones would certainly yield a high return, and the Atlanta Braves even inquired about him this past season at the trade deadline. However my personal opinion is that Jones is the kind of guy that can leave his mark on a franchise for a generation, similar to a Brooks or Frank Robinson. Those aren’t guys you let go from your organization. Not to mention that Jones seems to be one of the most community-spirit and civically responsible players in MLB, which has always gone a long way towards building goodwill in a place like Baltimore. For the record, Dan Duquette said that if the Birds look into an extension for Jones, it wouldn’t come until after the new year.

More realistically, I don’t know that I’d mind seeing the Birds trade Jeremy Guthrie. He would be a tough player to lose after all of his workhorse outings in the past few years, however I firmly believe that if the cavalry is going to swim at any point in time they have to be allowed to pitch innings in the big leagues. This is not to say that the Orioles shouldn’t pursue a free agent pitcher for the rotation. As much as I like Guthrie, he’d be the first to admitt that there are better arms out there, such as free agent Mark Buerhle. If the O’s were to trade Guthrie for some young prospects and then sign someone of Buerhle’s caliber, that would be a win-win.

These are all questions that are probably riding Dan Duquette as he makes his way to Dallas. The Orioles’ problems have been two-fold the past couple of years. First off everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong with regard to injuries. Secondly, that’s forced guys out of the minors and into the big leagues. Therefore the impression is that the Orioles don’t have organizational depth. The fact is that the depth is there, it’s just in the majors due to injuries. So if Duquette can find a suitor some someone like Jeremy Guthrie that’s going to yield some prospects in return, I say go for it. I also have to wonder what kind of entertainment the league’s executives can expect in Dallas this week…perhaps a Professional Bull Riding (PBR) event? Or more realistically, perhaps burgers and beers at Buck’s!

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