Baltimore Orioles: Which Free Agents Should They Keep?
General Manager Andy MacPhail has made it public that he will be aggressive in trying to sign players in an attempt to improve an Orioles team that actually impressed people over the final two months of the season.
That being said, very little is being said about the players that were on the roster last season that are currently free agents and whether or not to sign them.
Here is the list of the seven major free agents the Orioles will be at risk to lose and whether or not they should be in Baltimore next season.
2010 stats: .269 avg 43 runs 32 RBI (90 games)
Patterson is probably the most talented of the free agents that the Orioles must decide upon. A true surprise, Patterson was one of the few players to spark the Baltimore offense in June and July when it could only be described as embarrassing.
The only thing keeping him from being a sure thing to be resigned is the fact that he is solely an outfielder. The O's already have Felix Pie, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis as firm starters and considering the fact that Luke Scott occasionally sees time there and Nolan Reimold looked to be returning to the form of his rookie year, starts in the outfield are hard to find.
Patterson will be a big impact guy where ever he goes, but I don't see him in an Orioles uniform next season.
2010 stats: 1-2; 2.86 ERA in 44 IP
Koji went through quite a transformation this year. The oft injured pitcher was converted from a starter, to reliever, to closer during this season and experienced limited success in each role.
Using him in the bullpen is probably the best call -- he had been a closer in Japan the previous few years -- and it never really made sense to me why the Orioles tried to use him as a starter.
As a reliever, Uehara had a 2.86 ERA in 43 appearances and was very helpful in August and September when the O's bullpen started to get thin because of injuries.
I wouldn't use him as a closer in the upcoming season, but the Orioles should resign him as a guy who can provide solid innings in a setup role
2010 stats:.230 avg 42 runs 28 RBI
Izturis is a very good defensive shortstop, but outside of that, he is a huge offensive liability. his .230 batting average isn't good enough to be a starter in the MLB even if you win gold gloves every year.
The Orioles biggest problem though is that there isn't anyone on the free agent market that would be a better replacement. They have looked into trading for J.J. Hardy or the Tampa Bay Rays Jason Bartlett, but if none of those options work out, they might be stuck with Izturis until a better option arises.
2010 stats: .249 avg 26 RBI 20 runs
Lugo was traded for at the beginning of the season for security for if Brian Roberts was hurt for an extended period of time. The problem was that not only was Roberts indeed hurt for the majority of the season, but Lugo was worthless.
With Izturis already taking the role of offensively-challenged infielder, the Orioles were forced to explore other options such as Scott Moore and Ty Wigginton at second base.
Lugo was unhappy to be traded to Baltimore to begin with, so even if the Orioles felt that they should try and resign him, I can't imagine him wanting to be a backup on a rebuilding team.
2010 stats: .248 avg 76 RBI 63 runs
Wigginton was just about the only player worth his weight in the first four months of the season. His batting average wasn't stellar, but that can be attributed to a terrible slump toward the end of the season. Before that, he was literally the only spark on offense.
In addition to his bat, Wigginton is valuable because is comfortable playing first, second and third base. That flexibility makes it easy for a manager to get him consistent at-bats and is a great tool to have on the bench.
With the gaping holes the Orioles have at first and third base, it would be a serious mistake to let Wigginton go.
2010 stats: 4-16, 5.10 ERA
Kevin Millwood's season didn't exactly work out as planned. His 16 losses was most in the American League and although he did eat up a lot of innings, every start he had seemed to turn into a loss. Millwood started the season out well, but the lack of run production made it impossible to get wins and he didn't get his first official win of the season until mid-June.
Even when Millwood did put together a good start, he couldn't get any help on offense.
2010 was a giant struggle for Millwood and I don't expect to see a return to the Orioles.
2010 stats: 1-6, 5.26 ERA 75.1 IP
The Orioles have already declined Hendrickson's $1.2 million option for 2011, but don't be surprised if he is still in an Orioles uniform next season.
Showalter still recognizes that Hendrickson still has value as a middle reliever and as a guy whom Showalter can use as a lefty specialist if needed.
Hendrickson wants to be back in Baltimore and the O's want the same thing -- just at a lower price.