Orioles pitchers and catchers will report to the team's revamped spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla., three weeks from today. While Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail has added several pieces, there are still a few questions facing the club. Expect activity to pick up this week as agents attempt to find homes for their clients while there are big league roster spots still available, and minor league offers still on the table.
Will the Orioles sign a starting pitcher?
Everybody you talk to within the organization says yes, though they'll readily acknowledge that it probably won't be a sexy addition. The Orioles have some level of interest in almost every one of the remaining free-agent starters, including Kevin Millwood and Freddy Garcia. They also remain open to taking a shot on a starter who has had injury issues, like Justin Duchscherer or John Maine. And they still are actively monitoring the trade market, where names like Joe Blanton, Kenshin Kawakami and Armando Galarraga have been discussed. So far, the Orioles have shown little interest in Blanton and Kawakami and they're not totally sold on Galarraga. But at this point, all their options are flawed and come with a series of question marks, so the team can't afford to be picky. The guess here is they'll add a veteran starter on a small, one-year deal or through a trade and perhaps get another veteran swingman type on a minor league pact.
Will the Orioles add a lefty reliever?
The Orioles have a handful of minor league offers out, and it is believed that a couple of them are to situational lefties from a group that includes Joe Beimel, Mark Hendrickson, Ron Mahay, Bobby Seay and Scott Schoeneweis. With Michael Gonzalez having experienced shoulder problems last season, the Orioles want to get more left-handed in the bullpen, especially in a division that includes Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Robinson Cano. They shouldn't have much of a problem accomplishing this at a relatively cheap cost.
What are the chances of the Orioles adding Vladimir Guerrero?
This depends on whom you ask. Several national media members have listed the Orioles as the favorites with Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio going as far to say that Guerrero is "getting close to accepting humbling deal w O's." That report, however, was news to the Orioles, who haven't shown anything beyond tepid interest in the veteran slugger throughout the offseason, and who, as of Friday, weren't even negotiating with the player's agent. The Orioles are content with their current arrangement with Luke Scott serving as designated hitter and Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold platooning in left field. They also have pretty much exceeded their 2011 budget, according to team officials, and any money they have remaining will go toward a starting pitcher. However, it would be premature to rule the Orioles out. Guerrero does not appear to have many suitors, so his price could come down significantly enough to change the Orioles' minds. Also, if MacPhail and manager Buck Showalter really want Guerrero hitting in the middle of the Orioles' lineup, it likely wouldn't be too hard to sell Peter Angelos on the move as the owner has long admired Guerrero as a player.
Can the Orioles settle with Jeremy Guthrie and Luke Scott before arbitration hearings?
MacPhail has made it known on several occasions that he wants to avoid hearings, but the Orioles won't just roll over and give Guthrie and Scott whatever they want, either. Guthrie, the team's best starter last year and the expected Opening Day starter in 2011, is looking for $6.5 million while the team has offered $5 million, while Scott, the team's best hitter in 2010, is seeking $6.85 million while the Orioles have offered $5.7 million. There has been some conversation between the Orioles and the representatives of each player, but no deal is imminent on either front.
What is Alfredo Simon's status?
The reliever remains in a Dominican Republic prison as he awaits the results of ballistic tests on a gun that he turned in following a New Year's Day shooting in which he remains the prime suspect. The ballistic tests reportedly were to have taken two to three days, but it has been almost three weeks. Even if the test results clear Simon and he is released, it is extremely unlikely that he'll be in Sarasota on Feb. 14, and in condition to pitch or compete for a roster spot.
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