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Silencing the serious talks

The next two weeks should be very interesting for Orioles fans, who either will debate the return on trades for Erik Bedard and/or Brian Roberts, or await a few more minor deals and signings to patch holes leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training.

Team president Andy MacPhail isn't likely to let trade talks drag into February. Late January is pushing it. If something doesn't get done soon, he sounds prepared go into 2008 with Bedard as his No. 1 starter and Roberts as his second baseman and leadoff hitter. He'll look elsewhere for a center fielder, perhaps circling back to Corey Patterson, according to today's story in The Sun.

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That option has been available to MacPhail all along, with few teams rushing to sign Patterson. MacPhail can afford to wait a few more weeks without fear of losing him.

Failure to make a significant trade also increases the likelihood that Luis Hernandez starts at shortstop on Opening Day.

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MacPhail and manager Dave Trembley want a clearer vision of their roster as spring training approaches. The first workout is Feb. 14. The Mariners and Reds – and anyone else, for that matter – will need to meet the Orioles' demands soon.

The Orioles won't pry outfielder Jay Bruce from the Reds. And while they apparently can get Adam Jones from the Mariners, they won't snag pitcher Brandon Morrow, which still could be a deal-breaker, though Ken Rosenthal says the two sides might be moving closer to a trade.

The Orioles want Morrow in their bullpen. The Mariners are preparing to insert him in their rotation if they don't acquire Bedard, and they're trying to steer the Orioles away from him without losing a trade partner.

Like the other teams involved in talks with the Orioles, they're now on the clock.


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