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After watching the Ravens lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game, there's only one thing that can cheer up Baltimore sports fans.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than a month.

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OK, so maybe it would make everyone happier if the Orioles were expected to compete in 2009. Hope springs eternal, in my opinion, and baseball season is still my favorite time of year. A lot of people in Baltimore will share that sentiment when the Orioles finally become a contender again. It will happen sometime in the future. I guarantee it.

Remember, no one expected the Ravens to be as successful as they were this season.

In case you missed it, the Orioles acquired outfielder Felix Pie from the Chicago Cubs yesterday in exchange for left-handed starting pitcher Garrett Olson and minor league right-hander Hank Williamson.

The best story about Pie – and the most painful – has to be this one. If you're a guy, I advise you to read with caution. And I don't know how that is considered a minor surgery.

Pie was the top prospect in the Cubs' minor league system during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, according to Baseball America. The publication also rated him as the best athlete and best defensive outfielder in the organization in 2007.

In 130 major league games during the past two seasons, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound outfielder batted .223 with three home runs and 30 RBIs. Pie, who will turn 24 on Feb. 8, hit .215 with two home runs and 20 RBIs in 87 games during the 2007 season. He batted .241 with one home run and 10 RBIs in 43 games with the Cubs in 2008.

Pie has a .299 career batting average in seven minor league seasons. He hit .287 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs in 85 games for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs last season. Pie batted .362 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs in 55 games for Iowa in 2007. In 141 games for Iowa during the 2006 season, Pie hit .283 with 15 home runs and 57 RBIs.

With Adam Jones in center field and Nick Markakis in right field, it looks like Pie will get the majority of his playing time in left field. It should be noted that the Dominican Republic native has very little experience at the position. Pie told Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Connolly that he doesn't think he's ever played left field in the minor leagues, and he only appeared at the position during three games in the majors.

Although Pie is considered an above-average defensive outfielder, it might be difficult for him to adjust to a new position. Pie collected 53 outfield assists in 627 minor league games, including 18 with Iowa in 2006. He committed 33 errors in the minors. Pie didn't commit any errors in the major leagues, and he had two outfield assists.

Olson, who the Orioles selected in the first round of the 2005 MLB draft, was 10-13 with a 6.87 ERA in two major league seasons with the team. The 25-year-old left-hander was 9-10 with a 6.65 ERA in 26 starts with the Orioles during the 2008 season, and he was 1-2 with a 2.97 ERA in seven starts with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.

Williamson split the 2008 season with the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds and the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds. He was 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA in 17 games with the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds. In three games with the Shorebirds, the 23-year-old relief pitcher had eight strikeouts and didn't allow any earned runs. The Orioles selected the 6-foot-5, 225-pound right-hander in the 14th round of the 2007 MLB draft.

I have mixed feelings about this trade. If Pie plays well, the Orioles could potentially be set in the outfield for at least the next decade. On the other hand, Olson is a young starting pitcher and everyone knows the Orioles need all the help they can get in their rotation.

Still, no matter how it turns out, this trade shouldn't be ranked among the major moves in the history of the organization. It's a low-risk transaction that could pay big dividends if the former top prospect lives up to his potential. It's exactly the type of deal the Orioles should be doing if they're looking to rebuild and become a contender again.

What are your thoughts on the trade? Do you think the Orioles made the right decision to acquire Pie? What are your expectations for him in left field during the upcoming season?

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