Orioles News and Notes- 12/23

Duquette keeps his focus on farm system and international market.


Utilizing the same mind-set as his predecessor, Andy MacPhail, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette will attempt to rebuild the organization from the minors up.

MacPhail restocked the cupboard via trades and spending above slot in the draft. Even so, the organization is still devoid of depth in talent, despite holding two premier prospects -- shortstop Manny Machado and right-handed pitcher Dylan Bundy, Baltimore's top draft picks in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Bundy and Machado recently were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 among the club's top prospects by Baseball America.

After those two blue-chippers, though, there's not much.

Duquette has reassigned a number of the club's top advanced scouts from their big-league posts to amateur scouting roles. The moves were viewed as shocking demotions around the baseball world, but Duquette followed up the moves with a logical stance: The club needs to find young talent.

So far this winter, Duquette has remodeled the team's minor league and scouting departments and shown an interest in becoming a player on the international scene.

The moves are very similar -- identical, maybe -- to those made by MacPhail in his first year on the job.

The only difference for the club would be if Duquette's tinkering lands some international free agents and if the farm system begins to sustain itself, both finding and developing talent for the club to utilize at the major league level or to package in trades.

The Orioles -- once one of the proudest franchises in terms of developing talent -- have fallen on difficult times in recent years. Top-level minor-leaguers have come up the chain and provided a spark, but very few of them have come outside of the crop of top-10 draft picks the struggling organization has been stuck with over the past 14 seasons.


--CF Adam Jones has drawn the interest of the Braves, according to a number of reports. Jones is under club control and is due for a sizable raise after batting .280 with 25 home runs and 83 RBI. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette could use Jones as a trade chip to replenish the farm system, much as the club did in acquiring Jones and a slew of other prospects from Seattle for LHP Erik Bedard in 2008.

--OF Endy Chavez signed a one-year deal with the Orioles to serve as the club's fourth outfielder. Chavez, who batted .301 in Texas last season, will provide a left-handed complement to CF Adam Jones, and he could share time in left field with another right-handed hitter -- OF Nolan Reimold. If the club doesn't add another outfielder to the mix, Chavez and Reimold are likely to platoon in left.

--LHP Tsuyoshi Wada wowed the local media covering the Orioles when he spoke in English to start his introductory news conference. He could continue to impress by being equally prepared physically. The Orioles' first experience with a Japanese pitcher ended well, but RHP Koji Uehara's first season in Baltimore was abysmal -- in part due to his poor conditioning. Uehara came to Baltimore as a starter but couldn't keep up with the demands and eventually ended up in the bullpen, where he thrived. Wada likely will start in the rotation, too.

--Former executive Lee MacPhail IV is on the move again. An assistant to his uncle, then-team president Andy MacPhail, with the Orioles last season, MacPhail was assigned to advanced scouting duties shortly after Dan Duquette was hired. Recently, the younger MacPhail -- as well as nearly all of the club's advanced scouts -- was reassigned to amateur scouting, viewed industry-wide as a series of demotions. Danny Haas was recently hired as the club's national cross-checker.

--INF Cesar Izturis was unlikely to return to the Orioles after the emergence of INF Robert Andino in 2011, so it was no surprise when the light-hitting veteran recently signed a minor league deal with Milwaukee. Izturis was well-liked in Baltimore, and he provided a strong defensive presence at shortstop for two seasons before spending much of 2011 on the disabled list. Andino will provide depth in the middle infield, and he could start again if 2B Brian Roberts (headaches) remains sidelined.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Minor league free agents who signed with the Orioles in mid-December: RHP Kyler Newby, RHP Jon Link, OF Antoan Richardson and OF Lee Cruz.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Endy is a tremendous defender and gives us needed depth in the outfield." -- Executive vice president Dan Duquette, on newly signed OF Endy Chavez.


The Orioles headed into the offseason needing many of the same items they have for the past handful of winters: a power-hitting corner infielder, an everyday left fielder and at least one veteran starter. The club has some versatility in the current roster, and a number of players under club control for a few years.

ARRIVALS: RHP Darren O'Day (waiver claim from Rangers), INF Matt Antonelli (free agent from Nationals), C Taylor Teagarden (trade with Rangers), LHP Dana Eveland (trade, from Los Angeles Dodgers), LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (free agent from Japan), OF Endy Chavez (free agent from Rangers).

DEPARTURES: RHP Chris Jakubauskas (free agent, signed with Diamondbacks), C Craig Tatum (waiver claim by Astros), C/INF Jake Fox (free agent, signed minor league deal with Pirates), INF Cesar Izturis (minor league free agent, signed with Brewers).

FREE AGENTS: DH Vladimir Guerrero, OF Luke Scott, LHP Jo-Jo Reyes, RHP Willie Eyre.

None is expected to return. Guerrero was praised for his clubhouse role, but he didn't put up the numbers the club expected from him in 2011, and he could sign elsewhere. Scott, Reyes and Eyre were non-tendered.


Guthrie is likely to return and could command a long-term deal.


--RF Nick Markakis (bruised pelvic bone) was close to 100 percent in early December.

--2B Brian Roberts (concussion-related headaches) still wasn't hitting as of mid-December. His status for 2012 is uncertain.

--INF Ryan Adams (sports hernia) was scheduled to have offseason surgery.

--1B/3B Chris Davis (sports hernia) will rest and rehab the injury instead of undergoing surgery.

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