Baltimore Orioles "Offseason" Updates
Yes, I know, the World Series isn't even half-way over, so the term "offseason" is a bit premature.
That said, a lot has happened in the Charm City since the season ended. Let's start at the top.
Buck Showalter and the Coaching Carousel
At one time, it looked like the Orioles might retain all the coaches that finished the season with Showalter. That clearly isn't the case anymore. The first domino to fall was former hitting coach Terry Crowley, who was moved to another position within the organization.
Then the news broke a few days ago that the O's were looking at Jim Presley, a former infielder with the Mariners, Braves and Padres. "Hound Dog" Presley served as hitting coach for the Marlins for the past five years before being ousted along with manager Fredi Gonzalez. Hitters who blossomed under Presley's tutelage include Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, and Jorge Cantu.
The Mark Connor emerged as the leading candidate to replace pitching coach Rick Kranitz. And although Kranitz hasn't officially been ousted, the relationship that Showalter has with Connor, that dates back to their days in Arizona, makes the move look fairly imminent.
Then it was announced that Rick Adair, formerly of the Seattle Mariners, but also the Tigers, Indians, Braves, and Blue Jays, would become the Orioles bullpen coach. Adair replaces Alan Dunn, who has held that same position since 2007.
And the word on the street (and web) is that Showalter is a huge fan of former Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu, and is luring him to Baltimore to become the bench coach, forcing Jeff Datz out of a job. Wakamatsu and Show go way back to their days in the AL West, and Buck has always been a big supporter of him, even as he was being forced out of Seattle this past season.
As is stands, the only member of the coaching staff that is set to return in his role is first base coach John Shelby. Third base coach Gary Allenson hasn't yet been offered any sort of extension to stay on, but has been told that he will be offered his old position (manager of the Triple-A Norfolk Tides) if Showalter decides to go another direction at third base.
Hiroyuki Nakajima: Will He or Won't He?
The Orioles have been widely rumored to be in the running for Nakajima's services should be be posted and allowed to come play in the States.
The 28-year-old shortstop is widely regarded as one of the most talented players in Japan, and hit .309 with 22 home runs and 92 RBI in 2009. He also stole 20 bases, giving him back-to-back 20-plus steal seasons. This season he hit .314 with 20 homers. Since breaking in with the Seibu Lions in 2002, Nakajima has posted five .300-plus seasons, three 20-plus homer seasons and has driven in at least 63 runs in each season.
Many believed that Seibu would allow him to post and make the jump to MLB, but two days ago, the Lions announced that they were refusing to allow him that privilege.
And just when you thought it was over, and the Orioles would either have to settle for another year of Cesar Izturis (which isn't the worst thing), word broke today that Nakajima was going to meet again with Seibu to try to convince them to let him try his hand in the U.S.
Arizona Fall League Update
Just in case you hadn't been paying attention to the Orioles playing in the AFL this year, you might be surprised to know that the squad made up of Nationals, Giants, Rockies, Diamondbacks and Orioles is currently sitting in first-place, with a two-game lead.
Representing the Orioles, second-baseman Ryan Adams has been a revelation. Against very talented pitching the 23-year-old has more than held his own, hitting .289, busting out of an 0-for-6 slump with a two-double, three-RBI effort last-night. Adams ranks sixth in the circuit with 11 RBI and was named co-AFL player of the week.
Also playing in the AFL are shortstop Greg Miclat, who is hitting an impressive .297, and Xavier Avery, who has been much less impressive, hitting a mere .200 in 35 at-bats. To his credit, he does have five stolen bases in five attempts.
And another player who is receiving much less playing time is catcher Caleb Joseph, who's hitting .368 in only 19 at-bats.
On the mound in Arizona, the Orioles have Pat Egan, who has a 4.05 ERA and four strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work, Oliver Drake, who has posted a 5.79 ERA over three outings, Kam Mickolio who has an impressive seven strikeouts in only 5.2 innings, and Wynn Pelzer, who has a 5:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in five innings.
Another player who had been schedule to get some at-bats was Tyler Townsend, who made four plate appearances before heading back to Baltimore. He will miss the rest of the AFL season to have surgery to remove a cyst in his hand.
Possible Free Agent Compensation
Each season when free agents depart a given team they are given a final ranking, and those players who are deemed worthy of an "A" or "B" rank leave their team with an extra draft choice in either the first or second supplemental round of the first-year player draft.
This season the O's have two "B" candidates: Kevin Millwood and Koji Uehara. The team is widely expected to bring back Uehara, who pitched brilliantly down the stretch, but in letting Millwood walk, the team would pick up an extra pick after the second round.
Free Agency Updates
Not much to share here. The O's are eying a couple of free agents, most notably former Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez, former White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, and former Brave Derrek Lee.
It doesn't look like the O's will do much to spruce up their young rotation unless they can make the perfect move.
Shortstop, first base, third base and left field are all areas of concern for the Orioles, or at least areas where they could do better than Izturis, Brandon Snyder/Michael Aubrey/Rhyne Hughes, Josh Bell and Felix Pie.
Another interesting option is Phillies' Jayson Werth. A one-time Oriole prospect, Werth flourished upon his move to Philadelphia and is one of the top free-agent outfielders available. Not only would he fill a need in left field, but it would give the Orioles a much-needed power presence.
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