Roch Around the Clock

ROCH AROUND THE CLOCK

The Kickoff

December 20, 2006|By ROCH KUBATKO

We could really spark an interesting debate on whether Chris Ray is expendable in the right trade.

How important is a good young closer on a fourth-place team? I've made past comparisons to putting nice wheels on a beat-up car. My 1997 Cavalier, for instance.

But few things demoralize a team faster, and especially its young starting pitchers, than blown saves. And my guess is Danys Baez would compile more of them than Chris Ray.

Jamie Walker is a left-handed specialist. Chad Bradford should be pitching in the seventh and eighth innings. Who knows if Scott Williamson will hold up physically? Baez would be the logical replacement. I just doubt that many of you would make that trade straight-up.

Which takes us back to whether Ray is expendable in the right trade - like one that would bring a power-hitting first baseman or left fielder. If I were more sold on Adam LaRoche, I'd be more willing to pull the trigger. I still have my doubts about him. But Ray shouldn't be untouchable.

The Orioles would take back Todd Williams as a sixth-inning guy. Or fifth inning, if you're not as optimistic about the starting pitching. They could do worse.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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