Orioles Q&A with Jeff Zrebiec

Baltimoresun.com staff

Keith, Baltimore: Closer George Sherrill has been nothing short of spectacular so far this season. If the Orioles decide to shop him in July, what sort of return do you think they would get?

Jeff Zrebiec: That's really tough to assess because it depends on so many factors, like how Sherrill is pitching at the time, what teams are in contention and how much those particular teams need a left-handed setup guy or even a closer. Reliable relievers are usually in demand around the trade deadline, so I'm sure there will be plenty of interest in Sherrill, who is both reliable and extremely affordable. You'd have to think if the Orioles were to trade him, they'd have to get two pretty decent prospects in return. I find it interesting though that it's treated almost like a foregone conclusion that Sherrill will be dealt before the deadline. I'm not so sure, especially with Jamie Walker struggling.

Russ: Is it too early to say Daniel Cabrera might be turning the corner? What has been the difference in the way he's pitched this season?

Jeff Zrebiec: I think it's fair to say that he might be in the process of turning the corner, but he needs to have success for a much longer period of time before you can say that he's figured it out. Cabrera has been up-and-down for the previous four seasons, so seven straight starts of three runs or less just isn't a large enough stretch. However, that's taking nothing away from Cabrera. He's been outstanding, and his improvement has been dramatic. He's much more confident and poised and that certainly has made a difference. He's throwing his two-seam fastball more. That's a pitch that he throws at about 94 or 95 mph, but it has tremendous movement and forces a ton of ground balls. In recent starts, he's thrown the pitch pretty much 90 percent of the time, and even though batters know it's coming, they still have trouble hitting it because of the movement. Last year, he relied mostly on a four-seam fastball, which he could throw in the mid-to-high 90's, but it was often too straight and too wild. Cabrera tried to throw it on the corners, though he simply didn't have enough control to command it, leading to a lot of home runs and walks.

Gale: Do the Orioles have any young prospects at first base? What is their future at the position?

Jeff Zrebiec: Not really. They do have two prospects that may end up being first basemen if they make the big leagues, though that's not their current position. Brandon Snyder, the team's first-round pick in 2005, was drafted as a catcher, but the 21-year-old, who's currently serving as Single-A Frederick's designated hitter, has had shoulder surgery and the Orioles have since drafted Matt Wieters. So if he makes it to the big leagues, it will probably be as a first baseman/DH. Billy Rowell, a 19-year-old who was the Orioles' first selection in the 2006 draft, is playing third base for the Keys. However, there are scouts who think he'll outgrow the position and his future is at first base. As for the future of the position in the organization, there's no question that needs to be addressed. There is a certain first baseman that hits home runs, plays Gold Glove defense and hails from Severna Park that is expected to hit free agency after this season. Then again, you and everybody else around are probably well aware of that.

Mike, Annandale, Va.: Is there any chance owner Peter Angelos will want to derail Andy MacPhail's rebuilding process with the mistaken notion that the Orioles will contend for something this year?

Jeff Zrebiec: There's always a chance that could happen. However, by all accounts, Angelos has not stood in MacPhail's way on anything that the club president has wanted to do. That includes paying top dollar for Wieters last year; leasing a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic; getting involved in international scouting; releasing Jay Gibbons (an Angelos favorite); engaging in trade talks about Brian Roberts (an even bigger Angelos favorite); dealing Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada; and most importantly, rebuilding the organization. MacPhail has said that Angelos has accepted his vision for the organization and understands what needs to be done. MacPhail has also made it clear that the goal is not to finish .500. It's to actually contend. So, I don't expect the rebuilding process to be derailed if the Orioles are a couple of games over .500 or flirting with that mark near the trade deadline. But keep in mind, Angelos is anything but predictable.

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