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The First Card Falls…

Posted By Ron Burr On May 13 2010 @ 2:34 pm In Baltimore Orioles | 4 Comments

The first head has rolled, all the way to Norfolk, VA.  In a move that surprised almost no one, it was Nolan Reimold.

I am still expecting Luke Scott to get the boot unless his recent hitting reversal continues (and doesn’t plateau where it is now), but this was the right move by Andy MacPhail.  I watched the game Tuesday night, and Reimold not only looked lost at the plate, he looked lost in the field, with an obvious misplayed ball leading to a hit, and an error leading to an additional run being scored (honestly, David Hernandez probably could have gotten out of that inning only giving up 1 or 2 runs if not for Reimold’s multiple mistakes).  And Brad Bergesen’s performance since his brief demotion shows that sometimes it only takes going somewhere that doesn’t make you feel so pressed in order to find that obvious solution.  Here’s thinking that he is back by the end of May / beginning of June.

To no one’s surprise the Orioles called up Corey Patterson.  To my mild surprise they didn’t cut Scott outright.  To my complete and utter lack of surprise, they made room on the 40 man roster by moving Brian Roberts to the 60 day disabled list.  At this point, best case scenario has him being ready at the beginning of June, which would only be a week before he is eligible to come off of the 60 day DL.  And since he still has not even begun “light baseball related activities”, the beginning of June would be a pleasant surprise.  I am more and more convinced that the next time you see Brian Roberts in an Orioles’ uniform will be Spring Training 2011 (or when they put out the Brian Roberts bobblehead to thank him for a great career after he announces his injury induced retirement.  Backs are nothing to screw with).

Now on to the wild, rampant speculation and rumor department.  Our lack of power is still a glaring hole, and while Scott has warmed up a bit, he is not going to be confused with global warming trends anytime soon.


Luke Scott's bat has been so cold that Al Gore is claiming it as a carbon credit.

Garrett Atkins’ OPS is still hovering around .600 (.599 as of this afternoon’s game).  That would be great, if he were Mark Belanger.  He’s not, so it sucks.  Having Patterson around should help the entire lineup if for no other reason than it allows Dave Trembley to have someone COMFORTABLE with batting leadoff in the 1 hole.  Nick Markakis needs to stay in the 2 hole, he is playing too well to be moved right now.  After that it is a crap shoot.  I would have Matt Wieters hitting 3rd and Miguel Tejada or Ty Wigginton 4th, but only because there isn’t anybody better.

Or is there?

Not on our roster or in our minor league system.  But I know a guy who is aching to get back into the majors, who plays 1st base and DH, and who hit 25 Home runs last year.  And we can have him whenever we want him, without giving up anything for him but some money and a roster spot.  His name?

Hank Blalock [2].

According to the article, he is hitting .375 w/4 homers at AAA for Tampa Bay.  Last year with the Texas Rangers he hit 25 HRs in 123 games.  Sure his average was .234, but even with that his OPS was .736.  At 1st, that would be a decent upgrade for us (Atkins’ average as of today is only .253, so it isn’t that big of a drop).  At DH, it would be like Babe Ruth came back to aim for the warehouse.

Now look at this for the top of the lineup:

  1. Patterson
  2. Markakis
  3. Wieters
  4. Blalock
  5. Tejada/Wigginton

Not too shabby.  Adam Jones needs to be dropped down in the lineup (and at this point I would not be against sending him to Norfolk for a while.  It might get it through his thick skull that he is not the anointed one, a condition I think he suffers from now and again).  Wigginton would be in the mix for 5 or 6, rotating through with Tejada depending on who is in the lineup or who is a little bit hotter at that particular time.  Round it off with Atkins, Jones, and Cesar Izturis at 7, 8, and 9, respectively.  Not exactly the ’27 New York Yankees, but it beats what we have going now by a long shot.  At that point, getting Roberts or Felix Pie back becomes a nice problem to have to figure out, but the stress of getting them back is alleviated for the time being.

Now Blalock is a Scott Boras client, which had always been a red flag for this team.  But that isn’t a problem anymore, so there is no negative.  Blalock’s contract allows him to ask for his release at any time, at which point the Rays would have 48 hours to call him up or trade him.  Tampa Bay has a glut of people already on the 25 man that do what Blalock does, and they don’t have the capital to burn to keep him around just to placate him.  Besides, they are 24-10 right now, so why would they go messing with the team’s chemistry?  Instead, let Boras know it is time to test the waters, and if there is any real interest in Blalock you offer something up in trade (I trust MacPhail to find something to offer them).  If the interest in him is tepid, wait two days and sign him outright, dropping Luke Scott in the process (hell, offer Scott straight up for Blalock.  Even if he refuses the assignment, it allows the Rays to transfer the contract to the Orioles, and if we offer Scott plus cash, if he refuses or they cut him, they lose almost nothing AND save some money in the process.  It would be win-win for Tampa AND Baltimore).

We can only hope that Andy is reading this and acts on this before one of his competitors does.

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[2] Hank Blalock: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/rumors/post/Blalock-leaving-Rays-;_ylt=AuFq7WE3ZPwxB5Rhw5MQ0TqFCLcF?urn=mlb,240436

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