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Orioles thoughts on Colby Rasmus, Stu Miller, Hank Peters and the Hall of Fame

Orioles thoughts on Colby Rasmus, Stu Miller, Hank Peters and the Hall of Fame
Free-agent outfielder Colby Rasmus. (Joy R. Absalon, USA Today Sports)

The sense I'm getting from within the organization is that free-agent outfielder Colby Rasmus could fit into the Orioles' clubhouse without a problem.

Rasmus has been criticized while with both of his previous teams -- the St. Louis Cardinals and the Toronto Blue Jays -- for his inconsistent mental approach and inability to mine his significant talent. Teammates and field staff have been rough on him in the past, and I've been told that he has recoiled in that type of atmosphere.

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This much is certain: If Rasmus joins the Orioles, he's not going to get chastised within the clubhouse or by manager Buck Showalter if he shows up to work and gives full effort, even if the results aren't always there. It's a pretty simple formula.

The Orioles clubhouse, led by Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy and Darren O'Day, is a laid-back place, so long as you bust your butt to help the team win. There really aren't cliques -- everyone goes about their own business and seems to mingle with everyone else. And even with the losses of Nick Markakis, who fostered that atmosphere, and Nelson Cruz, who adapted quickly, that culture is seemingly still there.

So, yes, the Orioles are certainly intrigued by filling the hole left by Markakis with Rasmus. Now it's a matter of making sure Rasmus makes sense financially and offensively.

Rasmus, 28, is a left-handed hitting outfielder with pop and, as a center fielder, likely has the athletic ability to play either corner outfield position. But he's not a leadoff hitter, he's not an on-base guy and he strikes out way too much -- 124 times in 346 at-bats in 2014.

He's not an ideal fit performance-wise, but he's probably the best available outfielder remaining and should have other suitors -- one report Monday suggested that the Tampa Bay Rays have interest, too.

If it's a one-year deal, there will be little risk for a team like the Orioles to take the plunge. I can't imagine this drags on too long.

** Former Orioles pitcher Stu Miller died at age 87 on Sunday. Miller was known as one of the best relievers in club history. He's still fourth on the franchise's saves list (with 100 saves) despite not having pitched for the Orioles since 1967.

Miller only pitched for the Orioles for five seasons -- he was with the New York/San Francisco Giants for six seasons -- but he was named to the club's Hall of Fame due to his tremendous run that included being a part of the franchise's first World Series team in 1966.

Miller's top season was in 1965, when he won 14 games, saved 24 and had a 1.89 ERA in 119 1/3 innings, all in relief. He finished seventh in the American League Most Valuable Player race -- and third among pitchers. He would have received some serious Cy Young consideration, but only one award was given for both leagues at the time (and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Sandy Koufax received all 20 of the first-place-only votes).

In Baltimore, Miller always will be linked to a home game on April 30, 1967 in which he faced just two batters and induced two ground balls. One ended up as an error by young second baseman -- yes, second baseman -- Mark Belanger, who dropped a force out that allowed the Detroit Tigers to score the winning run in the ninth.

The Orioles lost, 2-1, despite not allowing a hit. Left-hander Steve Barber threw 8 2/3 hitless innings in that game but walked 10 batters. Miller finished off the losing effort no-hitter.

It's one of those games in Orioles history that old-timers love to talk about. Now Barber, Belanger and Miller have all passed away.

** The Orioles lost another key cog to past successes Sunday when former general manager Hank Peters died at age 90.

Peters helped build the 1979 and 1983 World Series teams, and he engineered one of the greatest trades in club history, a 10-person deal in 1976 with the New York Yankees that brought catcher Rick Dempsey and pitchers Scott McGregor and Tippy Martinez to the Orioles.

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I interviewed Peters by phone a few years back for an article I was writing. After he had answered all my questions for the piece, I had to ask him one more question for my own edification: Was it true that his groundbreaking trade with the Yankees could have been even better? Is it true the Yankees were willing to deal future Cy Young Award winner Ron Guidry in the famous swap?

The longstanding rumor is that the Orioles could have had Guidry but instead selected right-hander Dave Pagan because they were already getting a bunch of left-handers (McGregor, Martinez, Rudy May) in the deal.

Peters probably had been asked that one a thousand times, but he politely explained his version of the story for a reporter who was 6 years old at the time of the deal.

Peters said Guidry, indeed, was in the trade discussions, but he denied that it was an either/or situation with Pagan. Peters said the deal took forever to consummate, and there were myriad versions discussed. One had Bobby Grich going to the Yankees, Peters told me.

In the end, Peters decided on one of the packages that did not include Guidry, who had pitched in just 11 major league games (one start) at the time of the deal. He'd go on to win 170 games in a splendid 14-season career with the Yankees.

** The National Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2015 class Tuesday at 2 p.m. Although I am a qualified voter, The Baltimore Sun has a policy prohibiting its writers from voting.

So I'm not going to detail my selections as if I had submitted a ballot.

But, for me, the 10th spot on the ballot likely would have come down to two worthy candidates and former Orioles: Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina. I think both deserve to get in, but my goodness is that ballot packed.

My best guess is that Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio all will get in Tuesday. And Mike Piazza will get close.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com
twitter.com/danconnollysun

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