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A Palm Beach primavera premiere

Let the games begin.

To a baseball fan, those words might as well be “Let there be light.”

Today the Orioles begin their spring exhibition season against the Florida Marlins in Palm Beach, and the preparation for Opening Day revs into first gear. The game is not being televised, but like most preseason affairs it is being broadcast on WBAL radio (1090 AM) and over the Internet for MLB.com Gameday Audio subscribers.

From the Orioles' perspective, this March brings less uncertainty compared to last year, but there is still room for surprises. Baltimore's manager is not as green as he was a year ago, having gotten his feet wet—and at times, held to the flame—during his uneven debut season. Virtually all of the starting position players from last year's roster are returning; the only major lineup addition is the new right fielder (you may have heard about him). Several hungry hitters will try out for a handful of seats on the bench: there are two reserves virtually guaranteed to make the roster, and the primary backup infielder's identity is fairly secure, but the backup catcher's is not. If the club keeps eleven pitchers, there will probably be space for an additional hitter from among the nonroster invitees.

The pitching picture is a bit murkier. The final slot (or two?) in the rotation is up for grabs, and the order of the starters remains unsettled. The bullpen will have a few new faces, and a rearrangement of relief roles is expected.

Primavera primer

For those who have been hibernating all winter, here's a categorical summary of the goings and comings and stayings in Orioleland during the 2004-2005 offseason. Within each category, players are grouped according to their expected 2005 impact (highest impact at the top) in the estimation of this writer. Click on the players' names for statistics. And click on the subheads to link to some classic songs of the past.

Goodbye, stranger: out of town

  • 2B/OF Jerry Hairston Jr. (re-signed Jan. 18, avoiding arbitration; traded to Chicago Cubs Feb. 2)
  • LHP Buddy Groom (O's declined his option Nov. 4, making him a free agent; he agreed to minor-league contract and non-roster invitation to spring training with New York Yankees Feb. 4)
  • 2B Mike Fontenot (promoted to 40-man roster Nov. 18; traded to Chicago Cubs Feb. 2)
  • RHP Dave Crouthers (traded to Chicago Cubs Feb. 2)
  • DH/OF Jack Cust (left as six-year minor-league free agent; agreed to NRI with Oakland Athletics Nov. 19)
  • 3B/1B José León (outrighted to minors and became free agent Oct. 8; agreed to NRI with Pittsburgh Pirates Jan. 21)
  • IF Luis López (outrighted and became free agent Oct. 8; agreed to NRI with Cincinnati Reds Dec. 29)
  • C Robert Machado (outrighted and became free agent Oct. 8; agreed to NRI with Texas Rangers Nov. 30)
  • OF Darnell McDonald (outrighted and became free agent Oct. 15; agreed to NRI with Cleveland Indians Jan. 26)
  • RHP Darwin Cubillán (left as minor-league free agent; signed with Hanshin Tigers of Japan Oct. 30)

Ain't got no home: out of the game

  • OF Marty Cordova (filed for free agency Oct. 30; agreed to NRI with Tampa Bay Devil Rays Jan. 19; retired Feb. 24)
  • LHP Ómar Daal (filed for free agency Oct. 29; still unsigned)
  • DH/1B David Seguí (filed for free agency Oct. 29; still unsigned)

Just a-passin' through: in and out

  • LHP Luke Hagerty (selected in Rule 5 draft and traded to Florida Marlins Dec. 13)
  • OF Matt Díaz (claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay Feb. 22; granted release at his request Feb. 23)

Hello, hello: the ins

  • RHP Steve Reed (signed as free agent to one-year contract with 2006 option Jan. 21)
  • LHP Steve Kline (signed as free agent to one-year contract Dec. 20)
  • SS Chris Gómez (signed as free agent to one-year contract Dec. 8; lost in Rule 5 draft to Philadelphia Phillies Dec. 13; re-acquired in trade Dec. 21; placed on 40-man roster Jan. 21)

Welcome back: returning starters and other veterans

  • LHP Bruce Chen (re-signed Dec. 22, avoiding arbitration)
  • RHP Jorge Julio (re-signed Jan. 12, avoiding arbitration)
  • LHP John Parrish (re-signed Feb. 18, avoiding arbitration)

Don't stop believin': (mostly) young strivers on the 40-man major-league roster

Take a chance on me: nonroster lurkers

No direction home: shelved and sidetracked

  • LHP Ryan Hannaman (outrighted to AAA Nov. 20; had shoulder surgery in June and is likely out for '05)
  • RHP Jason Grimsley (had elbow surgery in October and is likely out for '05)

Expect more penetrating analysis in postings to come.

Update (Mar. 5): Added contract status for remaining players with under three years of ML service. Added Gerónimo Gil, who was unintentionally omitted, to the list. Added Adam Loewen's contract status. Mar. 12: Corrected Buddy Groom's spring destination as the New York Yankees, not the Mets.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 3, 2005 2:53 PM.

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