Another deadline deal for Orioles is unlikely

Wigginton, Ohman are club's top remaining trade chips after Tejada trade

July 30, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

KANSAS CITY, MO. — — While the volume of phone calls that Orioles officials have been getting has increased in recent days, president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said Friday that the likelihood of him making another deal before today's 4 p.m. deadline is not high.

"We've had a lot of conversations," MacPhail said. "I have no idea where they are going or if anything will come from them. It's not like the phone is dead, but I wouldn't see anything that I characterize as likely at this point."

Thursday's trade of third baseman Miguel Tejada to the San Diego Padres for minor league pitcher Wynn Pelzer leaves infielder Ty Wigginton and reliever Will Ohman as the team's top two remaining trade chips. According to sources, the Orioles have gotten plenty of interest in Wigginton, but none of the teams have been willing to offer more than low-level prospects and a chance for the Orioles to get out from under the rest of the veteran's salary for 2010.

"I don't see a salary dump, that's for sure," MacPhail said. "It would have to be something that we thought was equitable."

The Orioles' prospects of trading Wigginton diminished greatly Thursday when the Texas Rangers acquired corner infielder Jorge Cantu from the Florida Marlins. The Rangers had been one of the most aggressive suitors for Wigginton and had multiple shortstop prospects that interested the Orioles.

The New York Yankees also were considering Wigginton, though they were only offering salary relief and no prospects in return. It's a moot point now as the Yankees acquired first baseman Lance Berkman from the Houston Astros on Friday.

Though the Orioles are open to trading Wigginton for a serviceable piece, they don't feel the urgency to move him like they did with Tejada, who was blocking prospect Josh Bell's path to the major leagues.

There is still an outside chance that the Orioles could move designated hitter/first baseman Luke Scott, especially if one of the teams that doesn't land coveted Washington Nationals slugger Adam Dunn comes calling. The Tampa Bay Rays are one team that reportedly has tepid interest in Scott. The Orioles, however, have no plans to deal starter Jeremy Guthrie, who is the only consistent member of the rotation.

Asked if he understands that some fans may be disappointed if the league-worst Orioles make only one move, MacPhail said, "There is going to be plenty of criticism and rightfully so based on our record, but that doesn't mean you should do something for the sake of doing something. That would fall into the category of being stupid."

Gonzalez getting it done

Reliever Michael Gonzalez's return from the disabled list has mostly fallen under the radar with the Orioles' evolving managerial situation, the continued losing and the other injury comebacks from Matt Wieters, Brian Roberts and Scott. And that's just fine with Gonzalez, who was booed off the mound at Camden Yards after blowing a save in his first home appearance with his new team.

However, Gonzalez certainly has been one of the few positives of late, allowing one run in four outings spanning 42/3 innings since his return. Gonzalez, who spent 31/2 months on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain, has gotten better with each outing, improving his command and his velocity.

In throwing 11/3 scoreless innings against Kansas City on Thursday night and 12/3 scoreless on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, Gonzalez allowed only one base runner, and that was on a third-strike pitch to John Buck that got past Wieters. He struck out one batter in each of his past two outings and the strikeout on Thursday came on a 95 mph fastball that overmatched Wilson Betemit.

"I'm pleased because I feel like I'm definitely starting to get back in my groove. I just need to go out there and keep throwing innings," Gonzalez said. "Obviously, you can see the difference in the bite of the slider and the command and the velocity. Those are the three big keys right there. I didn't have that when I first came up here for whatever reasons. I feel like I've gotten that back."

Berken getting some rest

Jason Berken had been one of the American League's busiest relievers until recently as interim manager Juan Samuel hasn't used him in six straight games and eight of the past nine. Samuel said that Berken is not injured, but it was part of his plan to lay off the converted started a little more after he pitched so much in the first half of the season. Even with his inactivity lately, Berken leads all A.L. relievers in innings pitched with 561/3.

"He was basically the No.1 guy coming out of the bullpen in close ballgames and we feel like he needed a break," Samuel said. "He is ready to pitch when we need him. We just wanted to give him some time off so he can get back to the same guy he saw. I think he just pitched too much early."

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