NEW YORK - Despite weeks of speculation, it's highly unlikely the Orioles will make a significant deal before tomorrow's 4 p.m. trade deadline.
"I don't see anything on the immediate horizon," Orioles president Andy MacPhail said yesterday afternoon.
MacPhail said things could change with one phone call and the Orioles would be prepared if they did. However, the Orioles haven't had any teams come close to their asking price for their top trade chips, mainly All-Star closer George Sherrill, second baseman Brian Roberts and designated hitter Aubrey Huff.
MacPhail has said he feels no pressure to make a deal to continue the rebuilding process that essentially started with the offseason trades of star shortstop Miguel Tejada and ace pitcher Erik Bedard. Those decisions were a little easier for the Orioles to make because Tejada had made it clear that he wanted to play for a contender and team officials didn't think Bedard would sign a long-term deal.
However, Sherrill, who has 30 saves, is under contractual control through 2011 and he has said repeatedly that he wants to remain an Oriole. Roberts and Huff are signed through next season.
"You have to value how long you have them into the calculus of the deal," MacPhail said, not speaking specifically of any player. "Clearly, there's more incentive to do something if you felt the clock was ticking and they were going to be gone soon.
"It's the same litmus test that it always is - are we better than before we made the trade or not? I think you have to avoid making a knee-jerk reaction. You can't have one of these 'just get me through the deadline where I did something trades.' You're going to have to live with it."
Making their case
The Orioles will need a fifth starter Tuesday, and two of the top candidates had pretty successful auditions Monday.
Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Hayden Penn held Columbus to five hits and two earned runs over seven innings. Double-A Bowie right-hander Bradley Bergesen threw a six-hit shutout against New Britain. He improved to 13-3 with a 2.68 ERA.
"We're aware of what those guys are doing," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "I think you have to make sure before guys come up here that they're ready physically and mentally - not only to compete but to have a certain amount of success. If that means taking the time and taking it one level at a time, that's the way we're going to do it. But I don't think I'm opposed or Andy's opposed to moving somebody up here from Double-A if they're ready to go. I think you have to almost be pretty sure."
Not hanging his head
Brian Burres said he was a little surprised by his demotion to the bullpen in favor of Dennis Sarfate, who will start today.
"I really didn't see it coming, but I wasn't really thinking about [it]," said Burres, who failed to pitch six innings in eight of his past 10 starts. "I try not to think about that stuff as much as possible. I'm just going to look at it as something that can help me out to become a better pitcher."
Burres, who is 7-7 with a 5.37 ERA, is hoping that pitching more regularly out of the bullpen might help improve his location.
"You'll be getting out to the mound a little more so you'll be able to tinker a little bit," Burres said. "If you're a little off, next time you can go and fix it. I'm trying to look at it as positive as I can."