It's official. You don't have Ramon Hernandez to kick around anymore, Orioles fans.

And, technically, the Orioles' starting catcher position is about as wide open as home plate on a close play involving Hernandez.


That clicking sound you hear is the meter running on Matt Wieters' big league career (or is it the roaches behind the bar?). Anyway, I say let the meter keep running until mid-June or so. And then bring him up from Triple-A. I realize that's an unpopular decision for a fan base that just wants to see some young talent, but it's likely best for the organization and the player in the end.

OK, time to really see what this bar is about. I am taking a stand, and I am waiting for you to throw the weak drinks back in my face.

As much as you want to see the future now, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense financially to make Wieters your starter or even your backup to begin the 2009 season.

And, developmentally, it won't hurt him to spend some time at Triple-A. Remember, as dominant as he was in the minors last year, it was his first pro season. He has had only 208 at-bats in Double-A, and he doesn't turn 23 until May.

Let the kid have some success at the minors' top level -- and also let him have a little more time with the Orioles' top pitching prospects -- before bringing him up in the second half of the season. And then let him play four/five times a week. There is no rush here, the Orioles aren't competing for the postseason in 2009.

By starting him in the minors in 2009, his arbitration clock remains stalled. Shortly after he passes the mark for a Super-2 player (meaning he'd eligible for arbitration in his second year and not third) bring him up, assuming he is playing well.

If not, if the Orioles start his arbitration clock at the beginning of 2009, it gets him closer to free agency and it means he'll be making the big bucks earlier, In other words, if he's as good as we think he is, he'll be harder to sign to an extension later. And, be honest, the Orioles haven't exactly been stellar in signing their own players in a timely manner.

It's the business of baseball -- and Wieters is a smart guy. I am sure he gets that. And remember, he just signed a $6 million contract in June 2007. He's not starving in the bushes, and it's hard to harbor ill feelings with that bank account.

The most important thing is to let him know the plan in spring training. Don't lead him on; don't talk money. Just say we want you to dominate Triple-A for a few months. There is nothing wrong with that. And then go out and get a veteran, defensive-minded catcher who can start for a couple months and tutor Wieters once he is up.

I'm sure I am in the minority here. But I still think Wieters should start next season at Norfolk. Does that still make sense now that Hernandez has been traded?

Daily Think Special: With Ramon Hernandez gone, should Matt Wieters be the 2009 Opening Day starting catcher?