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News » Baltimore Orioles Roster Report 2009-03-01


Baltimore Orioles Roster Report 2009-03-01


Baltimore Orioles Roster Report 2009-03-01
The Orioles didn't sign their primary target, Mark Teixeira. But president Andy MacPhail spent the winter filling holes and answering questions. The team signed RF Nick Markakis to a six-year extension and 2B Brian Roberts to a four-year extension and beefed up its pitching depth. The question remains in the rotation, where three slots are wide open. The team remains in discussions with several starters, and one could be added if MacPhail finds a short-term deal to his liking.

ARRIVALS: SS Cesar Izturis (free agent from Cardinals), RHP Koji Uehara (free agent from Yomiuri Japan), OF Felix Pie (trade with Cubs), LHP Mark Hendrickson (free agent from Marlins), LHP Rich Hill (trade with Cubs), INF Ty Wiggington (free agent from Astros), C Gregg Zaun (free agent from Blue Jays), OF Ryan Freel (trade with Reds), RHP David Pauley (trade with Red Sox), INF Chris Gomez (minor league free agent from Pirates), INF Donnie Murphy (minor league free agent from Athletics), RHP Brad Hennessey (minor league free agent from Giants), C Chad Moeller (minor league free agent from Yankees), LHP John Parrish (minor league free agent from Blue Jays).

DEPARTURES: RHP Daniel Cabrera (non-tendered, signed with Nationals), C Ramon Hernandez (trade with Reds), LHP Garrett Olson (trade with Cubs), 1B Kevin Millar (free agent, signed minor league deal with Blue Jays), OF Jay Payton (free agent, unsigned), SS Juan Castro (free agent, unsigned), SS Alex Cintron (free agent, signed minor league deal with Nationals), LHP Brian Burres (designated for assignment, signed minor league deal with Blue Jays), RHP Lance Cormier (non-tendered, signed with Rays), RHP Randor Bierd (traded to Red Sox).

SPRING FOCUS: After Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara, who will start for the Orioles? There are roughly a dozen pitchers aiming for three spots in the rotation and potentially two openings in the bullpen. The Orioles certainly have quantity, but do they have enough quality?

PROJECTED ROTATION:

1. RHP Jeremy Guthrie

2. RHP Koji Uehara

3. LHP Mark Hendrickson

4. RHP David Pauley

5. LHP Rich Hill

While the verdict may still be out on whether Guthrie is a true No. 1, there is no debate in Orioles camp: Guthrie has to be the ace. Uehara is guaranteed a spot in the rotation, while the other three spots are wide open.

Orioles president Andy MacPhail envisioned Hendrickson as a swingman, but he's the most experienced of a group that will be competing for three starting spots and potentially two bullpen openings. Top prospects Chris Tillman, Jake Arietta and Brian Matusz are at least a year away.

PROJECTED BULLPEN:

LHP George Sherrill (closer)

RHP Chris Ray

LHP Jamie Walker

RHP Jim Johnson

RHP Dennis Sarfate

RHP Hayden Penn

LHP John Parrish

The Orioles have three pitchers with significant closing experience in camp, and Sherrill is likely to emerge on top after an All-Star season in 2008. Ray, coming off ligament-transplant surgery, could be a dominant eighth-inning performer and fill-in closer. If Johnson replicates his rookie season and Walker is healthy, the Orioles have the makings of a dominating three-inning group.

The questions remain in the middle relief, where the Orioles will likely go young and inexperienced with a player out of minor league options, such as Penn, a one-time prospect with talent to spare.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

1. 2B Brian Roberts

2. C Gregg Zaun

3. RF Nick Markakis

4. 1B Aubrey Huff

5. 3B Melvin Mora

6. DH Luke Scott

7. CF Adam Jones

8. SS Cesar Izturis

9. LF Felix Pie

The biggest void in the Orioles' lineup is a powerful right-handed bat in the middle of the order. The power bats seem to all be from the left side, so manager Dave Trembley will have to tinker with the order from time to time. Also, if Brian Roberts is dealt, there is no lead-off hitter to be found.

Jones is said to be in great shape, with additional strength, and could fill the role of the No. 5 hitter, allowing Mora to slot back to No. 2 in the lineup.

Pie and Ryan Freel will platoon in left field, while Scott and Huff will give at-bats to Ty Wiggington against tough left-handers. Zaun will give way to top prospect Matt Wieters in May or June, and Wieters is likely to hit anywhere from fifth to seventh in the lineup, though he projects as a No. 3 or 5 hitter in the future.

PROJECTED RESERVES:

C Guillermo Quiroz

INF/OF Ryan Freel

INF Ty Wiggington

INF Chris Gomez

The candidates for backup catcher are Quiroz, Chad Moeller and Robbie Hammock. But the spot is being held for starter Gregg Zaun, who will become the backup when top prospect Matt Wieters is recalled sometime in 2009.

Freel, Gomez and Wiggington provide experience and versatility. The club would like outfielder Lou Montanez's bat at the big-league level, but he likely would have to out-perform Felix Pie to make the roster.

TOP ROOKIES: C Matt Wieters will be the talk of camp, whether he makes the club or not. A consensus top prospect, Wieters will likely open the season at Class AAA Norfolk after batting a combined .355 with 27 home runs and 91 RBI between Class A and Class AA in 2008. OF Nolan Reimold will appear in his first big-league spring training after batting .284 with 25 home runs and 84 RBI at Class AA Bowie in 2008. The outfield appears too crowded for him to crack by opening day.

MEDICAL WATCH:

RHP Brad Hennessey (elbow) left his first appearance with the Orioles suffering from discomfort. He is out indefinitely.

RHP Chris Ray (elbow surgery) will return from Tommy John surgery but is unlikely to unseat All-Star George Sherrill for the closer role.

RHP Danys Baez (elbow surgery) is aiming for a spot in the starting rotation after having Tommy John surgery in 2007.

RHP Matt Albers (labrum tear) is expected to progress slowly after opting to rehabbed the injury and avoiding surgery.

LHP Troy Patton (shoulder surgery) missed his first year in Baltimore because of a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder and will be monitored closely. It's likely he'll open 2009 in either Class AA Bowie or Class AAA Norfolk.

RHP Jim Johnson (shoulder impingement) is presumed to be a full-go to open spring training and will work out of the bullpen, where he was successful in 2008.

RHP Dennis Sarfate (shoulder surgery) might not be ready at the beginning of spring training but should contribute to the bullpen by April. The experiment with using Sarfate as a starter is over.

LHP Jamie Walker (elbow discomfort) is expected to be at full strength for spring training after missing the final two weeks of the 2008 season. Walker's elbow did not require surgery.

3B Melvin Mora (shoulder surgery) is expected to be fully recovered from the November procedure and is slated to play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

INF/OF Ryan Freel (hamstring surgery) will be ready to go in spring training and is expected to be a key reserve and platoon left fielder.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 1, 2009

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