Several people have asked about the Orioles' interest in Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who reportedly was posted last night by the Chiba Lotte Marines. The last time I inquired about him, I was told that the Orioles had some interest but they hadn't decided yet whether they would bid. My gut feeling is that they won't be involved as the organization isn't enamored of the whole posting process. This is more my opinion from talking to people, but I get the impression that the Orioles feel that the money they would have to put up just to win the ability to negotiate with the player, coupled with what they would have to pay Nishioka to sign him to a contract, would far exceed his worth. Again, this is not set in stone as the Orioles clearly are looking for a shortstop -- and the 26-year-old switch-hitter batted .346 with 22 steals this past season -- along with a versatile infielder as insurance for Brian Roberts. However, it's my guess they'll decide that they can find a comparable -- if not better -- option elsewhere at a cheaper price.
Speaking of Roberts, I haven't talked to him this offseason, but I have spoken to several people who have, and it sounds like the second baseman is feeling good and the health problems he had late in the season haven't lingered much into the offseason. That's obviously a good sign as Roberts' ability to stay healthy will be a prominent theme heading into the 2011 campaign.
Another popular question we've gotten recently is about whether the Orioles would consider trading Brian Matusz to upgrade their offense. Unless the Tampa Bay Rays come calling with word that Evan Longoria is available, or the New York Mets do the same with David Wright, the answer is likely: "No." The Orioles view Matusz as their top young pitcher and a future front-end starter. While the team has at least some interest in all the sluggers being mentioned in trade speculation (Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Reynolds, Dan Uggla, to name a few), I doubt they'd include Matusz as part of any of those deals. But again, that's more my opinion after talking to some team officials.
Orioles director of amateur scouting Joe Jordan's staff continues to undergo changes. Dominic Viola, who scouted for the Orioles in the Carolinas, has left the organization to take a job in the professional scouting department of the Cincinnati Reds. James Keller, who previously scouted in Northern California, will shift into a professional scouting role with the Orioles. Rich Morales, who had been scouting in south Texas, will take over Keller's area in California. Jordan, who let go two of his area scouts this year, has a 15-man staff, and five of them will be in new positions.
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