Such a deal?

Some jokes just write themselves.

Aubrey Huff has a strained groin.


Fish in a barrel, my friends. Fish in a barrel.

The Orioles are working hard to make news the right way. They're pretty much due. The Chicago Cubs won a World Series in less time.


Kevin Millar throws out the first pitch before a playoff game at Fenway Park. Huff throws out too much personal information on a satellite radio show. Jay Gibbons is suspended for the first 15 days of next season for using performance-enhancing drugs. Brian Roberts is dragged into the Mitchell Report and admits to injecting steroids once.

My kingdom for a trade.

There haven't been any drunken-driving arrests, so we shouldn't complain too loudly. As Sidney Ponson taught us - more than once for all the slow learners - it could be a lot worse.

Speaking of Ponson, it still appears he'll sign a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. That's what he's telling friends down in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., spring training home of the Orioles, which skillfully brings us back to my original topic.

Team president Andy MacPhail is working hard to keep the focus on the field by spending countless hours on the phone. And we're about due for another major announcement.

You can only get so much mileage out of the Miguel Tejada deal. Acquiring Chris Roberson for cash considerations didn't lead off SportsCenter. Nobody is rushing to the Orioles Store to purchase a Randor Bierd jersey.

Fortunately, I'm told new backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz is available for children's parties.

MacPhail has made it clear to other teams that trade talks won't drag into next month. They might not continue into the last week of January. At some point, the Orioles need to make firm decisions regarding center field, shortstop and the back end of the bullpen. They can wait until the final days of spring training to anoint a fifth starter among all their in-house candidates, but they don't want to rummage through the free-agent bargain bin while their equipment is being loaded into the truck for transport back to Camden Yards.


Solutions could be found in Seattle, where the Mariners remain in hot pursuit of ace pitcher Erik Bedard, and in Chicago, where the Cubs continue their push to acquire second baseman Brian Roberts.

MacPhail insists that nothing has changed on either front and that he's not at the point of accepting any deals, despite reports to the contrary. Rumors of a completed trade with the Cubs were so prevalent early yesterday morning, an Orioles spokesman greeted callers with, "It's not true!"

I remember the days when "hello" was in vogue.

The only way a deal becomes finalized is after owner Peter Angelos gives his approval. (He didn't return a call from The Sun yesterday.) Roberts is his favorite player, and I'd be surprised if he relinquished the second baseman for pitchers Sean Gallagher and Sean Marshall and middle infielder Ronny Cedeno.

Then again, I also was surprised that Huff kept his hotel "incidentals" on each road trip below $20,000, given what he told Bubba The Love Sponge.

Fish in a barrel.