Orioles notes and observations on Ryan Webb and free agent Colby Rasmus

The Orioles are counting on a few key players – namely third baseman Manny Machado and catcher Matt Wieters – to get fully healthy this offseason and be able to contribute early in the regular season.

Other than those two players, the Orioles have maintained good health this winter with only one member of the 40-man roster undergoing surgery – and that was for a minor procedure.


Shortly after last season ended, right-handed reliever Ryan Webb underwent surgery in Baltimore to tighten the capsule in his left shoulder, a club source said. Webb had been dealing with instability in his nonthrowing shoulder and the successful surgery repaired that.

Webb, who was 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 51 games for the Orioles, is back on his throwing program and is expected to be fully ready to begin spring training. Besides Webb, the Orioles have survived the first two non-baseball months without a scratch.

** Manager Buck Showalter is expected to meet Saturday with free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus, who lives near the Georgia-Alabama line (not to be confused with Florida Georgia Line). And don't confuse this as a recruiting trip. It's not like what Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez did in December, coming to Baltimore to court Nick Markakis, who, within 48 hours, had signed with the Braves.

The Orioles believe they no longer have to hard sell anybody about joining their team. They've made the playoffs two of the last three years, have plenty of talent, a jewel of a ballpark and an enthusiastic fan base.

Showalter is meeting with Rasmus to hear what the 28-year-old outfielder has to say and to determine whether he'll mesh with the current Orioles. There's no question Rasmus has talent, but he's shown it only in spurts and he hasn't been able to maintain consistency. He's been labeled an underachiever, a brooder and difficult to coach.

Showalter doesn't care about labels – he has had plenty of labels slapped on him over the years. But he is insistent on finding players that will buy into his team-first, us-against-the-world, fundamentally sound mentality.

Ultimately, even if Showalter signs off on Rasmus, it doesn't mean the free agent will join the Orioles. There are still contractual issues to be worked out, and Rasmus could always choose a more lucrative deal elsewhere. Plus the Orioles are eyeing other outfielders as well. But if Showalter is in, a one-year, make-good deal with Rasmus could be enticing for both sides.

Invariably, Showalter has done his homework on Rasmus. I have, too, and the sense is that Rasmus has not been able to adjust when things go awry – which they inevitably do from time to time in baseball.

It seems like the slacker label that he has carried the last few years is somewhat unfair. It's apparently not a lack of work ethic that has hampered Rasmus' ascent; his deficiencies sound like they are more mental than anything.

But he has had difficulty with coaches in the past and has demonstrated a lack of focus at times. He'll have to overcome those challenges – and quickly – if he is to be a Showalter guy.

I don't know Rasmus personally, but from what I've gathered he won't be much of a factor in the clubhouse, one way or the other. He's definitely not a trouble-maker, from what I've been told, but he has allowed negativity to engulf him at times.

It will be an interesting decision on the Orioles' part – not only if Showalter feels he can be a fit in the clubhouse, but if Rasmus is too redundant offensively. He's an athletic left-hander with power, which is a plus, but he is also a free-swinger who strikes out a lot and usually posts low marks in batting average and on-base percentage. Sound familiar?

I talked to one talent evaluator in September who knew both Rasmus and Markakis. He said he'd pay Markakis four times what he'd pay Rasmus on the open market this winter because of Markakis' incredible consistency versus Rasmus' maddening inconsistency. He said Rasmus wasn't worth the upside because you never knew when it would come out or for how long. He said Rasmus could be uneven on the field and in the clubhouse whereas Markakis was stable in all aspects of his baseball life.

I thought the talent evaluator was being a bit harsh at the time. But Markakis signed with the Braves for four years and $44 million and Rasmus is looking at a one-year deal probably between $6 and $8 million. Now, that talent evaluator's assessment looks conservative.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun