Orioles not sure where to slot Scott

As Baltimore’s roster stands right now, there’s a bit of a redundancy at left field and DH. Manager Dave Trembley said Monday that it’s a nice problem to have, and he downplayed the possibility of solving the problem by playing Nolan Reimold or Luke Scott at first base.

Scott auditioned for the role in September, but Trembley said Monday that he’d much prefer to slot the veteran at either left field or designated hitter. The only problem there is the twin presence of Reimold and Felix Pie, who figure to split time next season.

“I think it’s a nice thing to be able to sort out, especially the way Pie played the second half of the season,” he said. “Unfortunately, he got to play a lot because [Adam] Jones was hurt. But I know there is a lot of interest in Pie [and] you’ve got to like what Reimold did. You still have Luke Scott. I think as we get closer towards Spring Training, it will all sort itself out.”

Pie represents the best defender out of the three, as well as the player with the highest upside. The Orioles will likely allow him to take the lion’s share of at-bats in left, and Trembley said that he doesn’t want to try to convert Reimold to first base in Spring Training.

“I’m not totally against it,” he said. “I just don’t know how practical that is in a short period of time in Spring Training, teaching a guy to play first base at the Major League level who has never done it before. I think in a perfect situation, it probably would’ve been better — if he had been healthy — maybe we could have sent him to Instructional League or Winter Ball. …I’m sure that’s probably going to be discussed in the next day or so about Reimold.”

— Spencer Fordin

Baltimore seeking closure on closer

Baltimore manager Dave Trembley spoke at length about his team’s pursuit of a veteran relief ace on Monday, framing it as insurance for his young rotation and a way to get the most out of the returning talent in his bullpen. Trembley said that he’d rather not rely on Jim Johnson or Koji Uehara as his closer, preferring instead to slot them earlier in the game.
“If you don’t get a closer, now you come into Spring Training kind of unsettled again and you might have to take a look at JJ there,” said Trembley, who grew comfortable with Johnson as his setup man. “You might have to take a look at what Chris Ray does. But if you go out and get a closer, then I think you can kind of line up the back end of your bullpen.”
As for Uehara, Trembley said he’s at a bit of a loss. Uehara spent most of his career in Japan as a starter and struggled with hamstring and elbow ailments last year in his stateside transition. Now, Trembley wants to see him healthy before he decides his role.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know what to say about Koji,” he said. “I think you have to see Koji come into Spring Training and see if he’s healthy. I think you’ve got to get him in Spring Training and see if he’s healthy and then decide what’s best for him and where he fits in with the team. It’s hard for me to say right now because he ended the season hurt.”

All quiet on the Orioles front

The first morning of the Winter Meetings has passed with nary a peep out of Baltimore’s front office. John Stockstill, the team’s director of international scouting, was seen walking the lobby over the last few hours, but not much has been bandied about along the corridors.

That silence will inevitably end later in the day, though, when manager Dave Trembley holds a press briefing at 2:30 p.m. and Andy MacPhail, the team’s president of baseball operations, meets with the local media in his hotel suite at 6 p.m.

The Orioles, who are looking for a first baseman, a third baseman, a starting pitcher and a closer, aren’t necessarily likely to do something big over the next three days. Baltimore is waiting for the market to set itself and will likely be interested in Saturday’s non-tender date, which will swell the ranks of free agency with several more compelling candidates.

Welcome to the meetings

The business end of the Winter Meetings has begun and the first press conference of the day is about to commence. Reporters are already working the phones and the lobby, and executives will soon begin meeting with each other in earnest. It’s wall-to-wall baseball as far as the eye can see and as far as the ear can hear. The first day is generally about laying groundwork, but news could pop at any moment.

— Spencer Fordin


Checking in and checking it out…

The Winter Meetings have begun in the sense that most team executives have checked in to their respective hotels and that the lobby of the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown is already full of loitering reporters. The scene is subdued, at least in relation to the sensory overload of last year’s industry convention at the ultra-opulent Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Things will likely swing into gear on Monday, when executives begin meeting with their peers to lay the groundwork for trades and with agents to discuss the burgeoning free agent market. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley will stage a group interview, and Andy MacPhail, the team’s president of baseball operations will meet with local reporters on a daily basis.

That’s all the news for now, but check back often Monday through Thursday for updates.

— Spencer Fordin



Topps of the list

The Topps baseball card company gave fans an interesting conversation starter on Wednesday, when it named its All-Rookie Team for 2009. And while many of the selections were noteworthy, there also seemed to be at least one glaring omission.

Matt Wieters, one of the most highly rated rookies in recent seasons, was left off the team in favor of former Baltimore farmhand Omir Santos despite having a marked edge in batting average (.288 and .260), on-base percentage (.340 and .296) and slugging (.412 and .390).

The Orioles did see Nolan Reimold named to the team, a selection that recognized the team’s year-long youth movement. Reimold led all American League rookies in home runs (15), on-base percentage (.365) and slugging (.466) when his season was cut short by injury.

— Spencer Fordin

Trembley plays it quiet on coaches

Baltimore manager Dave Trembley just learned that he’ll be coming back next year, and now he wants some time to decide on his coaching staff. Trembley parried several questions about his coaches Saturday, saying only that he wants time to make a decision.

“I’m going to allow myself to go home on Monday afternoon,” said Trembley of the season’s endgame. “And I’m going to allow myself an opportunity to unpack and put some closure on this season, to think about what may be areas that could be improved and what I can do to make it better. Then I’m going to talk to [executive Andy MacPhail] about it and I’m going to call each and every coach individually and tell them what their status will be for next year.”

Trembley said he has already spoken to MacPhail, the team’s president of baseball operations, about his coaching staff. And to illustrate his point, Trembley told an anecdote about a recent organizational meeting and a conversation he had with MacPhail.

“We had a meeting in Tampa with all the coaching staff and Andy MacPhail and other front office personnel,” said Trembley setting the stage for his comment. “That night in Tampa, Andy said, ‘What do you think? I thought the meeting went really well.’ I said, ‘Well, I’m going to tell you something about the coaches that you have here: They have passion. Everybody has passion about the players, especially the guys they work with in their areas.’ “

— Spencer Fordin