Bold Lopez-Lopez package deal could help revitalize O's by 2007

June 25, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

While the Orioles attempt to catch lightning in a bottle with struggling starting pitcher Russ Ortiz, they also should move boldly to accelerate the club's long-term rebuilding project.

Here's a not-so-modest proposal: Try to package Rodrigo Lopez and Javy Lopez in a deal for a pedigreed, yet-to-pop young hitter while the two of them are still on a roll together.

The Orioles are expected to demote rookie Adam Loewen to make room for Ortiz in the rotation, but they'll eventually need room for Loewen and Hayden Penn, and who are we kidding anyway?

This team won't make the playoffs and probably won't see .500 again. The sooner the Orioles' brass embraces a full rebuilding effort, the more likely the team can be reasonably competitive in 2007.

If a Lopez-Lopez package sounds a little far-fetched, it might make plenty of sense for a team looking to get deeper in more than one area for the stretch run. Rodrigo has rebounded from a soft start to pitch very well the past few weeks and has also proved to be very effective in middle relief. Javy remains a legitimate power hitter who has improved his sketchy reputation behind the plate by helping Rodrigo out of his early-season slump.

The Orioles want to deal Javy by the July 31 deadline for making trades without waivers, because his limited role and expiring contract make him highly expendable, but they have had trouble finding a market for him.

Rodrigo has re-emerged as one of the most effective pitchers on the staff, but it might be wise to take advantage of his enhanced current value, since there's no telling how he might pitch after the departure of his personal catcher. There are a number of teams interested in Rodrigo, which might create some incentive to take Javy in the same deal.

Orioles officials insist that a midseason deal involving Miguel Tejada is unlikely, largely because the interested teams probably wouldn't want to satisfy the Orioles' desire for at least one quality major league hitter along with a package of prospects.

The front office is convinced that Tejada would bring a better return during the offseason, though there is some risk involved in waiting that long, especially if Tejada restates his desire to be traded before the end of the season.

It's clear that the happy-go-lucky Tejada of two seasons ago has been replaced by a much more serious, preoccupied player, which also should raise a red flag in the organization.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen now says that he will accept the sensitivity training ordered by commissioner Bud Selig after Guillen used an anti-gay slur to describe Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti.

Guillen earlier had told reporters that he didn't speak English well enough to benefit from such a course, prompting comparisons to Sammy Sosa's linguistic dissembling during last year's congressional steroid hearings.

There was only one problem: If Guillen really doesn't understand English, why was he so mad at Mariotti?

We should have such problems: The Los Angeles Angels have about the same winning percentage as the Orioles, but they felt compelled to send rookie starter Jered Weaver back to the minor leagues in spite of his 4-0 record and 1.37 ERA.

Weaver apparently didn't let the demotion get him down. In his first start back at Triple-A Salt Lake City on Friday, he took a perfect game into the sixth inning and struck out 14 on the way to a two-hit shutout.

This week's funny headline from SportsPickle.com, the Maryland-based sports humor and satire site on the Web: Secret `wonder drug' credited with Albert Pujols' quicker than expected recovery.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

"The Peter Schmuck Show" airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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