Summer Sale Extended! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Orioles
Sports Orioles

Peter Schmuck: Flanagan's reign as O's leader takes root amid palm trees

Mike Flanagan is attending his first major league general managers meeting as the unquestioned leader of the newly restructured Orioles front office, so inquiring minds are probably wondering the same thing that crossed my mind when I ran into him yesterday under a palm tree at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort:

Is it good to be the king?Well, I didn't exactly ask the question that way, but I did ask him if it felt different to be at the GM meetings as the executive VP of baseball operations instead of just the VP of baseball operations.

"I guess the short answer is, yes," he said. "It has been good."

I can't stress enough that we were standing under swaying palms in the crisp air of this tony desert spa south of Palm Springs, which adds absolutely nothing of importance to this column except to leave you with the impression I have a really great job.

Flanagan is here with his new management team, which also includes vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette and vice-vice president of baseball operations Scott Proefrock, laying the groundwork for what we all hope will be a productive offseason.

(Editor's note: By productive offseason, I mean an offseason that includes the signing of big-money, free-agent first baseman Paul Konerko, but it is possible that the actual people who will be doing the actual free-agent bidding will focus their attention and resources elsewhere.)

There probably won't be a blockbuster trade consummated here, but Flanagan and his staff already have had casual discussions with several clubs and are scheduling more meetings over the next couple of days. They also are using the time to reach a consensus on which free agents will be at the top of their priority list when open bidding begins on Friday.

"It's a good spot for having some great dialogue," Flanagan said. "We're having conversations about a lot of things."

Retaining B.J. Ryan remains a top offseason priority for the club, even if it does not appear that he will give the Orioles any special consideration during the free-agent process.

"They want to go through the process and we understand that," Flanagan said, "but we fully expect to be in it."

Flanagan said he had a conversation with Ryan's agent (John Courtright) a couple of days ago.

The chances of the Orioles keeping their closer may depend on current negotiations between the Yankees and setup man Tom Gordon.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman would not rule out acquiring a front-line closer to get in line behind Mariano Rivera, but he's in no hurry to pay premier closer money for someone who may not be needed in the closer role for a couple more years.

"We'd prefer not to," he said, "but we'll wait and see how the winter unfolds."

Rivera may be in the twilight of his great career, but how pressing of a need can it be when he just finished second in the American League Cy Young Award balloting?

One of the names you'll be hearing in the free-agent market this winter is Kenji Jojima, a power-hitting catcher who is expected to be this year's hot Japanese import, but you probably won't be hearing the Orioles talking seriously about signing him.

The Orioles are likely to pursue free-agent catchers Ramon Hernandez and Bengie Molina. Jojima is expected to travel to San Diego next week to meet with the Padres, who are anticipating that they will need help at the position soon.

Too bad. The prospect of new pitching coach Leo Mazzone going to the mound for a meeting with Spanish-speaking Daniel Cabrera and a catcher who speaks only Japanese is almost too delicious to contemplate.

The subject du jour yesterday was the coming baseball World Cup, which will go forward (March 3-20) despite some behind-the-scenes grumbling from teams that don't relish the possibility of putting star players at risk of injury in the middle of spring training.

Cashman, who was believed to be one of the more vocal skeptics, declined to comment yesterday and said that the GMs had agreed to let MLB vice president of baseball operations Jimmie Lee Solomon make all public statements about the event.

If that sounds like a gag order to you, well, you're probably just paranoid like me.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Orioles in April

    Orioles in April

    Browse pictures of Orioles baseball games in April 2015.

  • Orioles Opening Day at Camden Yards

    Orioles Opening Day at Camden Yards

    Look through photos from Orioles Opening Day festivities at Camden Yards on April 10. The Orioles will face the Toronto Blue Jays in their 62nd home opener in Baltimore. 

  • Orioles player salaries for 2015

    Orioles player salaries for 2015

    With the 2015 baseball season just underway, USA Today has released its annual comprehensive list of player salaries. The publication gathers the data from "documents obtained from the MLB Players Association, club officials and filed with Major League Baseball's central office. Deferred payments...

  • All-Time Greatest Orioles

    All-Time Greatest Orioles

    In the six decades since they returned to the American League, 982 players have suited up for the Orioles. Who are the all-time best? Here are The Baltimore Sun's picks — six men at each position, except outfield and starting pitcher (nine apiece). We ranked the top six managers, too, from 1954...

  • Orioles Season Preview 2015

    Orioles Season Preview 2015

  • Orioles Insider

    Orioles Insider

Comments
Loading
81°