MacPhail expecting payoff from work at GM meetings

Roster stays same, but groundwork laid

November 09, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail departed the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress resort and the general manager meetings yesterday without trading shortstop Miguel Tejada or tinkering with his flawed roster. However, he said he was satisfied with four days of work that he expects to pay dividends in the days ahead.

Entering the meetings, the Orioles contingent, which included MacPhail, executive vice president Mike Flanagan and director of baseball administration Scott Proefrock, identified about 15 teams it wanted to meet with to discuss trade options, and by yesterday afternoon, they had met with all of them.

"We batted a thousand," MacPhail said. "You don't often bat a thousand in baseball, but we did. We did what we were here to do. We tried to get a little further in what may or may not be possible with different clubs. In that regard, we were really pleased with the outcome of the meetings."

MacPhail said that he will gather his scouts and talent evaluators - either in person or via conference call - in the coming days and talk about different proposals and scenarios. MacPhail said that no trade proposal this week was captivating enough to jump on immediately. But he was buoyed by the interest several clubs had in different Orioles.

"I was satisfied with the responses we got in our players," MacPhail said. "Based on the information we collected, we'll sort of get a game plan going forward."

While avoiding using the word rebuilding to describe the Orioles' current state, MacPhail has made it clear that the club is looking to trade several veterans and to get younger and cheaper, while putting an intense focus on scouting and player development.

It was obvious this week as MacPhail didn't meet with a single representative of a free agent. At last season's GM meetings, Flanagan and then-vice president Jim Duquette split their time between meeting with other clubs and agents.

"You have an obligation to simultaneously explore all avenues, but the one that interests us the most is the trade avenue," MacPhail said.

MacPhail again made it clear that no Oriole is off-limits, including ace pitcher Erik Bedard. "Everybody is available," he said.

Best deal possible

MacPhail said yesterday that he is not opposed to trading a player - even if it is his star player - to another team in the American League East. The New York Yankees have expressed preliminary interest in dealing for Tejada, though the Oriole doesn't appear to be the Yankees' top choice to replace free agent Alex Rodriguez.

"I wouldn't rule out four teams just because they're in our division," MacPhail said. "You have to make the best deal that you can."

Orioles owner Peter Angelos might have a different opinion on the topic; however, it could become a moot point if the Yankees are able to make a deal for Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera or sign free agent Mike Lowell.

The St. Louis Cardinals' Scott Rolen and the Chicago White Sox's Joe Crede are also trade options for the Yankees, who have made it clear that their top three young pitchers - Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy - are virtually untouchable in any trade.

That could make it tough to snare Cabrera from the Marlins, though the Yankees have other prospects who could interest the Orioles. That list includes pitchers Humberto Sanchez and Ross Ohlendorf and outfielders Jose Tabata, Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson.

Yankees starting center fielder Melky Cabrera would also be of obvious interest to the Orioles, but it's not clear whether the Yankees would include him in a deal for Tejada. The Yankees' Kyle Farnsworth is one reliever on the Orioles' offseason wish list as a potential one-year replacement for closer Chris Ray or setup man Danys Baez, who will both likely miss the 2008 season after having Tommy John surgery.

"I've made it clear we're looking for young, talented, major league-ready or close to major league-ready players," MacPhail said.

Asked if the Yankees had that to offer, he said, "Yeah, they've done a great job with their system."

Around the horn

Adam Loewen, who missed the last five months of the 2007 season with a stress fracture in his left elbow that required surgery, has been cleared to start throwing. ... Though Boston Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp is not on the top of their wish list, it is conceivable that the Orioles could intensify their interest in him if other trade pursuits fail. ... Veteran pitcher Steve Trachsel is available in free agency; however, a reunion with the Orioles is unlikely. ... Toronto Blue Jays pitcher A.J. Burnett is not the type of pitcher a rebuilding team acquires, but his reported availability at least gives the Orioles something to think about. Club officials have long been enamored with his talent.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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