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Orioles: Is Uggla the answer?

One of the first players to surface in Orioles trade speculation this offseason was Florida Marlins infielder Dan Uggla, who would certainly add some pop to the O's lineup, but probably wouldn't be joining Adam Jones on next year's list of Gold Glove winners after reluctantly switching from second to third base. Which brings us to an important philosophical question that some posters already have been trying to answer.

Which is more important at third base -- offense or defense?

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It's a complicated question, because it has to be answered from a local rather than a general perspective. Obviously, you'd like to get both run production and solid corner defense from your starting third baseman, but the Orioles aren't exactly ordering from a menu here. Andy MacPhail has to decide whether it's more important to protect his young pitchers with a great glove or get some protection for his top hitters with a big bat.

I suspect that when you throw price into the equation -- and by that I mean the price in both salary and what it will take to get a decent player to replace Melvin Mora -- the Orioles will go for the glove and rationalize that's the best thing for the successful development of Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen and Jack Arrieta. Don't know that I agree.

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Some posters here have rightly pointed out that the connection between pitching and winning in the DH era is not quite as strong as it was in the past, as evidenced by the fact that only four of the playoff teams this year ranked among the top 10 major league teams in ERA, while 7 of the eight ranked in the top 11 teams in runs scored. The Angels, if you want the most glaring example to illustrate this point, ranked 20th in team ERA, but first in batting average and second in runs scored (behind only the Yankees.)

Based on what I've heard from our beat guy Jeff Zrebiec, I'd have to say that Uggla would be third or fourth on the Orioles' wish list, behind Pedro Feliz, Garrett Atkins and the most expensive option, Adrian Beltre.

What do you think?

Associated Press photo

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