Spirited discussion in the bar Wednesday about whether Matt Wieters should be the Orioles' Opening Day catcher now that Ramon Hernandez has been traded.

I was surprised how many of you agreed with me that the 22-year-old phenom shouldn't be rushed for both financial and developmental reasons. I must be putting more hooch in your drinks than I realized.


Two points of clarification from the debate. First, there is no magic date, such as May 1, that assures whether a player will be a Super-2 (eligible for four years of arbitration) or a regular case (three years of arbitration). It's based on a formula each year – and not determined until after that season -- but the belief is that by early- to mid-June, it's safe to call up a player and avoid Super-2 status.

Secondly, if Wieters starts the season with the Orioles and stays up, he'd theoretically be a free agent after the 2014 season. If he comes up at the All-Star break, for instance, he wouldn't be a free agent until after the 2015 season.

Probably should have made those points Wednesday.

I spent some of yesterday being entertained on the phone by Ryan Freel, the Orioles' new infielder/outfielder obtained in the Hernandez trade.

Let me tell you, this guy is a character. I couldn't even get to everything in Thursday's story. One of the interesting things he told me is that the Cincinnati Reds' clubhouse was without energy at times during his tenure there. He said some of the superstars kept to themselves and the other guys waited for them to speak up and set the tone and they never did.

He said he's very much looking forward to getting his new teammates stirred up.

"I want to have a team meeting right now," he joked. "I believe in good chemistry. You show me a good team, I'll show you a team with good chemistry."

He also believes in doing goofy things to crack up his teammates. He wouldn't give me specifics, but said some of his best material occurs in the team showers.

OK, well, I won't be giving you an update on that. There are some places self-respecting journalists won't go for a story.

But I definitely think this guy is going to fit in with some of the interesting personalities in the Orioles' clubhouse, guys like Aubrey Huff and Nick Markakis, who are characters in their own way.

And maybe he'll fill the void that will be left if the Orioles don't re-sign clubhouse clown Kevin Millar.

When I asked Freel if he had anything left to say to Orioles fans, he replied: "We're going to have a good time when I get there, I can promise you that."

By the way, he's also real big on community involvement, especially children's charities. So he should be a welcomed addition for that reason alone.

Anyway, Freel got me thinking. Who is the greatest character in Orioles history? The oddest of the oddballs? The guy who you cheered for because you knew he was left of center and didn't care?


There are plenty of candidates: Rick Dempsey's got to be up there. So must Don Stanhouse, Randy Myers and John Lowenstein.

I haven't covered a whole lot of characters – it's a dying breed – in my eight-plus seasons around the Orioles. I'd say Millar wins that competition with the incomparable Steve Kline a distant second.

There have been plenty of funny guys, though: Brady Anderson had the quickest wit, Jeff Conine was wonderfully dry and Jay Gibbons' self-deprecating quips have to be in the discussion, too.

Daily Think Special: Who is the biggest character in Orioles history?