Carroll County Times

As some flock to Birds' nest, others fly

The offseason has likely been tough to stomach for many Orioles fans, particularly now that their longest-tenured player has signed with a hated division rival.
When second baseman and fan favorite Brian Roberts joined the New York Yankees on Tuesday it was only the latest parting of the ways with a key player since the season ended in late September without a playoff appearance. Pitchers Jim Johnson and Scott Feldman and left fielder Nate McLouth already were gone.
But the Orioles completed a trade with Kansas City on Wednesday evening that could make up for some of the losses.
Baltimore sent utility player Danny Valencia to the Royals for outfielder David Lough, a 27-year-old who finished eighth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2013. Lough batted .286 with five home runs and 33 RBIs in 96 games last year.
"Im glad to be a part of the Baltimore Orioles! Many exciting things to come in 2014. Go O's!!" Lough put on his Twitter feed early Wednesday evening.
Baltimore had already added pitchers Grant Balfour, Edgmer Escalona, and Ryan Webb as free agents, and traded for second baseman Jemile Weeks.
Balfour is set to replace Johnson as the Orioles' closer, after the soon-to-be 36-year-old signed a two-year, $15 million contract.
Balfour went 1-3 with a 2.59 ERA, collected 38 saves for the Athletics in 2013, and earned a spot on the AL All-Star team.
Johnson, too, was an All-Star, and finished the season with 50 saves. The 30-year-old (3-8, 2.94) became the second pitcher in baseball history to post consecutive 50-save seasons.
Weeks, 26, came to the Orioles from Oakland in the Johnson trade. He played in only eight games for the A's in 2013, but logged 118 games in 2012 and batted .221 with two home runs and 20 RBIs.
Baltimore lost a back-end starter in Feldman (12-12, 3.86 between Baltimore and the Chicago Cubs in 2013), who signed a three-year, $30-million free agent deal with Houston, but added relievers Escalona and Webb.
Escalona, 27, appeared in 37 games for Colorado last year and went 1-5 with a 5.67 ERA in 46 innings. The 27-year-old Webb made 66 appearances for Miami in 2013 with a 2-6 record in a 2.91 ERA in 80 1-3 innings. Webb set career highs in games, innings, and strikeouts (54) last season with the Marlins.
Valencia finished the year strong with the Orioles and hit .305 with eight homers, 14 doubles, and 23 RBIs in 52 games.
McLouth, who built a solid fan base during his two years in Baltimore, primarily as the Orioles' lead-off hitter, signed as a free agent with the Nationals. He batted .258 with 12 home runs, 36 RBIs, and 30 stolen bases in 146 games last season.
Lough and oft-injured veteran Nolan Reimold are expected to compete for time in left field, previously manned by McLouth.
Baltimore has yet to address its starting rotation during the offseason. They are reportedly interested in free agents Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza, among others.