Not all with O's sold on Burnett

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Doubts, Lowell's salary slow deal

Red Sox in hunt

Notebook

July 21, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly | Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS - While other teams have reportedly entered the mix in trade talks with Florida involving pitcher A.J. Burnett, the Orioles remain resolute that the Marlins pick up half of third baseman Mike Lowell's contract, and even that may not be enough.

One club source said that even if Florida absorbs about $10 million of the approximately $21 million due to Lowell over the next 2 1/2 seasons, the Orioles would still "have to look very hard" at making the deal, which has Burnett, the No. 1 starter that they so covet, as the centerpiece.

Another club official described the potential of the deal, which would send pitching prospect Hayden Penn, outfielder Larry Bigbie and reliever Jorge Julio to the Marlins for Burnett, Lowell and a prospect, as "iffy," and said not everyone in the organization is sold on Burnett. The 28-year-old pitcher has never won more than 12 games in a season and has already made four stops on the disabled list.

And Burnett, who will be a free agent after this season, also is reportedly looking for a contract that would eclipse the four-year, $40 million deal that former teammate Carl Pavano signed with the New York Yankees. The Orioles have contacted the league about the specifics of getting a 72-hour negotiating window with Burnett, but they have not put in an official request, said an industry source.

"Not all of us are that excited about the deal," said a member of the organization. "We think Burnett's a bit of a reach. He can help us, but you don't want to mortgage the farm. If we're giving up a lot of guys, you'd rather have more of a sure thing."

According to a club source, the Orioles have also contacted the Los Angeles Dodgers about Jeff Weaver and the San Francisco Giants about their ace, Jason Schmidt. The source said the club has discussed bringing up 24-year-old right-hander John Maine, who is 6-7 with a 4.25 ERA for Triple-A Ottawa, and sending the struggling Sidney Ponson to the bullpen.

The Marlins are also talking to other suitors. One possibility would be a three-way trade in which Boston third baseman Bill Mueller and prospects would go to the Minnesota Twins for reliever J.C. Romero and starter Joe Mays; the Red Sox would then trade Mays and starter Bronson Arroyo to Florida for Burnett and Lowell. However, Lowell's contract is also an issue in that deal and Florida is lukewarm on Mays, sources say.

"Things are not quiet," Larry Beinfest, Florida general manager, told Marlins beat reporters last night. "There is a lot of activity in the marketplace. There are a lot of phone conversations."

Ryan gets time to recharge

After blowing saves on consecutive nights, Orioles closer B.J. Ryan was given a planned day off in yesterday's 3-2 loss to the Twins and likely wouldn't have pitched even if a save situation arose. With the Orioles off today and playing a night game tomorrow at Tampa Bay, manager Lee Mazzilli wanted Ryan to get 2 1/2 days of rest.

The Orioles manager remains unfazed by Ryan's recent struggles. In his past 6 1/3 innings, Ryan has surrendered seven earned runs (eight runs total) for a 9.95 ERA, nine hits, five walks and has blown four of his past 11 save opportunities.

"That's the life of a closer," Mazzilli said. "That's all it is. ... It's not like they are hitting the ball hard off of him. B.J. is going to be fine."

Palmeiro moves up charts

With every swing these days, Rafael Palmeiro seems to make a move on one of baseball's all-time lists. With his fourth-inning two-run home run yesterday, his 17th of the season and 568th of his career, Palmeiro tied Wade Boggs for 23rd place on baseball's all-time hit list with 3,010.

On the same hit, he passed Al Simmons and moved into sole possession of 15th place with 1,829 career RBIs, eclipsed former Oriole Frank Robinson into 10th place with 5,375 total bases and tied Lou Gehrig for sixth place with 1,190 extra-base hits.

The Orioles will stage a video tribute to Palmeiro, who got his 3,000th hit Friday in Seattle, before Monday's game at Camden Yards. They will also host a ceremony recognizing the 3,000-hit milestone Aug. 14 at Camden Yards.

Sun staff writer Roch Kubatko contributed to this article.

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