Baltimore Orioles: "Around The Diamond": First Base

Lawrence BarrecaAnalyst INovember 15, 2008

This is the second article in my series, "Around the Diamond," as we take a look over at first base.

Last season, the Baltimore Orioles had two primary first basemen, Kevin Millar and Aubrey Huff. 

Millar, the starter, hit for a .234 average, with 20 home runs, 72 RBI, and 73 runs scored.  Compared to his previous year, he had a nice 2007 campaign.  Millar was not only an average player, but he was a great guy to have around in the clubhouse, something that I'm sure the O's will miss in the upcoming season (Millar filed for free agency).

Huff, the everyday DH and backup first baseman, had an incredible year, solid enough for him to win the Silver Slugger Award.  He hit for a .304 average, with 32 home runs, 108 RBI, and 96 runs scored.  Huff gave the O's the power boost that they have been waiting for since they first acquired him before the 2006 season.

One more player that I forgot to mention was Oscar Salazar.  At 30-years old, Salazar had spent much of his career playing in the minors before he got his chance with Baltimore.  He took advantage of it, hitting for a .284 average, five home runs, 15 RBI, and 13 runs scored in only 81 at-bats.

Now that I have the recaps out of the way, let's get down to business. 

Now the O's have multiple questions that must be answered. 

For example, "Who will the O's try to acquire in the offseason?" 

Of course, the first name that comes to mind is Baltimore-native Mark Teixeira.  Another question:  "Will the O's actually grab him?"  My answer is no.  Odds are that Mark is going to be looking to play for a contender that can pay him.  My guess is that he lands with the New York Yankees or that the Los Angeles Angels re-sign him.  Sorry to burst some people's bubbles, but I'm just facing the facts here.

So let's look around the league to see who could be another option.  In previous articles, I have repeatedly stated two names:  Hank Blalock and Ryan Garko. 

Blalock had his option for 2009 picked up by the Texas Rangers, so he is off the market. 

About Garko, in order to get him, a trade would have to be made.  Only problem is that the Cleveland Indians will most probably be looking for Brian Roberts to be in the deal, something that the O's don't need to see unless current Indians' second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera is thrown into the mix.

So we've looked inside the pro club and outside the American League East, now let's go down to the farm system. 

One main player comes to mind when I think of first base prospects, and his name is Brandon Snyder.

Last season while at Single-A Frederick, Snyder hit .315, with 13 home runs, 80 RBI, and 70 runs scored.  He also had a .358 OBP and a .490 slugging percentage.

Currently in the Arizona Fall League, Brandon is hitting for a .309 average, with four home runs, nine RBI, and 10 runs scored in only 55 at-bats.

In other words, the kid can hit.  The former first round selection has all the tools to be a major league ballplayer someday, so all we really have to do is wait and see.

So now the big question:  "What's in store for the 2009 season?" 

This is the one that I have no sure answer for.  Honestly, I believe that this job is currently up for grabs. 

Maybe Peter Angelos will offer more money to Teixeira than we ever expected and grab him off the free agent market (I tried not to laugh while I typed that sentence).  Maybe the O's front office will surprise us with a multi-player deal bringing someone in to man the position.  Maybe the O's should just stick with Oscar Salazar and Aubrey Huff until Brandon Snyder comes up in two or three years. 

Maybe we should just sit back and watch the madness unfold.

Be sure to check out next time's edition as we shift over to second base.