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Howard Schnellenberger won a bowl game last night. Then the ghost of Robert Irsay fired him.

To answer a question posed to me yesterday: Trades can be completed during the week between Christmas and Jan. 1, but it doesn't happen often. Some officials will maintain discussions if they believe they're close to a deal.

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The Orioles don't appear to be close to doing anything at the moment. That's fine if the  alternative is trading away Erik Bedard and Brian Roberts for packages that don't suit their needs - immediate and long-term. Better to hold onto them than let teams withhold the Brandon Morrows and Adam Jones and Jay Bruces and Matt Kemps.

However, the reality is that the Orioles don't know who's playing shortstop, who's starting in center field, who's closing, who's setting up, who's filling out the rotation. Manager Dave Trembley mentioned Luis Hernandez as a possibility if another shortstop isn't acquired, or a combination of Brandon Fahey and Freddie Bynum. He could always shift Jay Payton to center if the veteran isn't dealt. Or hand the job to Tike Redman and watch him break back 20 feet on a ball fouled behind the plate.

Not exactly what we were anticipating, but it's still relatively early. Andy MacPhail hasn't closed up shop for good. Keep telling yourself that while you're opening your gifts.

By the way, I like Redman as a bench player. There's a spot for him on this team. Just not everyday in center. Please.

The Reds seemed pretty determined to trade Josh Hamilton. The Orioles apparently could have gotten him in a package for Bedard. I wonder why?

It does appear to make Bruce even more untouchable, if that's possible.

I'm not a huge Octavio Dotel fan, but the Orioles have expressed interest, and he might be the best alternative at closer. They don't want Jamie Walker moved out of the left-handed set-up role, or unproven Jim Hoey taking the ball in the ninth.

Check out this link - http://www.baseball-reference.com/d/doteloc01.shtml - and you'll see that some Oakland people are down on Dotel.

Carlos Silva gets $48 million over four years. Dontrelle Willis gets $29 million over three.

Also, cats are chasing dogs and Magic Johnson is set to host another talk show.

Silva is praised for eating innings. So does Daniel Cabrera, and the rest of us get indigestion.

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