About five days ago, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail was fielding questions about the organization's alarming lack of infield depth. Yesterday, I was asking him about the Orioles' infield logjam.
On Monday, the Orioles acquired third baseman Mark Reynolds from the Arizona Diamondbacks. On Thursday, they acquired shortstop J.J. Hardy and utility infielder Brendan Harris from the Minnesota Twins. On Friday, they agreed to terms on a one-year $1.5 million deal with Cesar Izturis, their starting shortstop the past two seasons.
Reynolds and Hardy will obviously be regulars, but then it gets a little fuzzy. MacPhail said yesterday that Izturis will be on the club and serve as the utility man. Where does that leave Harris or even Robert Andino, who made a real good impression on manager Buck Showalter late in the 2010 season?
MacPhail cited Harris' ability to play third base in saying that there is still room for Harris and Izturis on the 25-man Opening Day roster. But he added that Harris, who is not on the Orioles' 40-man so he could play all season at Triple-A Norfolk if that's what the organization chooses, will compete with Andino and others for a big league spot.
If the Orioles take another utility type in addition to Izturis, that would mean that Craig Tatum and Jake Fox are likely competing for one roster spot. Fox's right-handed power bat and ability to play the corner infield spots should help, but ultimately Showalter will likely take the guy that he - and the Orioles' pitching staff for that matter - feel the most comfortable with behind the plate on days where Matt Wieters is off.
It would also mean that the Orioles would likely go with 13 position players and a 12-man pitching staff.
At this point and things could change quickly, those 13 position players will be: 1B/DH acquired either via trade or free agency, Brian Roberts, J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds, Cesar Izturis, Brendan Harris or Robert Andino, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Felix Pie, a 4th outfielder (likely Nolan Reimold), Luke Scott, Matt Wieters and backup catcher (Tatum or Fox).
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