Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

It seems like I'm in the minority on this one, but I love Christmas and the entire holiday season. So Merry Christmas to all of you out there. I hope you all got baseball cards in your stockings and/or under the tree this year.
Image borrowed from Amazon

Thanks to all of you who helped make collecting fun and enjoyable in 2011.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Orioles Bobblehead(s) of the Week- Earl Weaver & Jim Palmer

Here is my Earl Weaver/Jim Palmer dual Orioles bobblehead that was given away on July 19th, 2004. I love this bobblehead since it features two Hall of Famers and they both look reasonably like themselves, outside of the lack in height differential at least. 

I'm sure that other teams have done dual bobbles but this is certainly the only one the O's have produced.

I don't remember if this bobble was given away in conjunction with anything, and as far as I know it's the only SGA bobble the Orioles have produced for either of these HOFers. 

For some reason, my camera phone wasn't cooperating well for the close-ups of their faces, but you get the idea of what they look like.

 Merry Christmas Eve everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- An Early Christmas Present

(Every Friday, I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is a few pennies short of a dollar, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible.")

My dad gave me a Christmas present a little early this year; he has been one of the very few people who have regularly gifted me baseball cards over the years and I always look forward to what he has for me. I was blown away when I opened my gift and it contained three of the four remaining Orioles autographs that I needed for my collection. My need list is down to only 1! I have to spread these bad boys out since I've been searching for them for so long, and I will feature one each week over the next three weeks to savor their awesomeness.

Up first is Lou Jackson since this is only the second example of his autograph I've ever seen and the first I've seen in person. I also think that his signature is the most rare of the trio. The previous autograph of Lou's that I had seen was a signed 1959 Topps Cubs card on ebay that the seller wanted $1000 for, which is significantly out of my price range. If it was his 1964 Topps Orioles card (the only Orioles card of his that was released during his lifetime) I might have considered taking out a second mortgage, but not for the Cubs card.

Lou played in only 34 MLB games over three seasons. 30 of those appearances came with the Cubs in 1958-59, and the other four came for the Orioles in 1964. Lou bounced around the minors after his time in Chicago and he came to Baltimore after the O's selected him from the Milwaukee Braves in the 1963 Rule 5 draft. Following Spring Training, he broke camp with the O's but wasn't able to regularly crack the lineup, so was sent to the AAA Rochester Red Wings in mid-May, spending the ensuing season and a half with them. After the 1965 season ended, Lou signed a deal to play professionally in the Japan for the Sankei Atoms (now the Tokyo Yakult Swallows) and spent the 1966-68 seasons there. He developed some serious health problems while in Japan, possibly due to his alcohol abuse, and died in Tokyo in May 1969 of pancreatitis. He was only 33 years old when he passed away.  

Obviously, Lou's passing away at such a young age in a foreign country over forty years ago is the main reason his autograph is so hard to track down. Adding to that issue is that he was only featured on the two cards I mentioned above during his lifetime. He was posthumously featured as an Oriole in this TCMA set and the Orioles Crown set, but he quite obviously, never signed either of them.

RIP Lou.

Thank you dad for this amazing autograph to add to my collection.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Orioles Sign Endy Chavez

Over the weekend, multiple sources reported that the Orioles signed OF Endy Chavez and the team confirmed the transaction in a press release on Tuesday. He inked a one year, $1.5 million deal and could earn another $500k in contract incentives. Endy is a good defensive outfielder and will likely see some playing time in left field in addition to backing up Adam Jones in center-field. The Orioles had been searching for a left-handed, defensively strong outfielder so now they can scratch that off of their shopping list for the 2012 season. He also brings some speed to the base-paths and hits more for average than power. I see Endy as a player in the Felix Pie mold, but hopefully he knows how to take a better routes on fly balls.

Photo Credit to MetsOnline blog
Based on the fact that Endy is best known around baseball for this amazing home run robbing catch of a Scott Rolen blast he made for the Mets in game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, I think he knows what he is doing out there. His throw after the catch also helped to double off Jim Edmonds and end the inning. The Mets went on to lose the game, but they wouldn't have stayed in it as long if it wasn't for Endy's defensive prowess.

Endy has spent ten seasons in the Majors, mostly for the Expos and Mets, and also played for the Royals, Nationals, Phillies, Mariners and Rangers. He spent the 2011 season with Texas and was on their post-season roster, so he at least brings a bit of playoff experience to a relatively inexperienced O's team.

As is the case with most of the players the Orioles sign, I don't have many cards of Endy's, so if you have a few extra cards of his around, please let me know and maybe we can work out a trade.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oriole #797- Paul Bako

Throughout the offseason, I'm going to count down Orioles players from more recent years all the way back to #1 in 1954, based on whose autographs I have yet to display on this site. Up today is Oriole #797 Paul Bako. (I got ahead of myself when I listed #790, Fernando Tatis, yesterday. Whoops!)

A month or so ago, I purchased a lot of signed Orioles 8x10s on ebay. I focused on players who either never had an Orioles card produced of them or that I still need a signed Orioles item of, and Paul falls into that latter group. The Orioles back-up catcher during the 2007 season was included in two late season card sets as an Oriole; Topps Update and Upper Deck Series 2. I've tried a few different avenues to get one of those cards signed but I haven't had any success, yet at least.

Paul was a big league catcher for 12 seasons from 1998-2009 and played for 11 different teams during his time in the Majors so could accurately be deemed a journeyman. He only played in more than 81 games three times during his career, in his 1996 rookie season with the Tigers, 2002 for the Brewers, and 2008 for the Reds. In true journeyman fashion, his time with the Orioles lasted only one season; he was behind the plate for 60 games for the O's in 2007.

Way back in March 2009, in only the 9th post I ever wrote, I featured Paul's autographed Old Judge card, along with a few other autographs. (Please forgive my writing style from those days, I was still trying to develop my voice.)  That card will remain in my collection, along with this 8x10, until I'm able to add his a signed copy of his Orioles card to my collection.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oriole #790- Fernando Tatis

Throughout the offseason, I'm going to continue to count down the Orioles players whose autographs I have yet to write about; up today is Fernando Tatis.

Fernando debuted for the Orioles on July 21, 2006 and went on the play in 28 games for the '06 Orioles. He was a true super-utility player and appeared in at least one game at third base, first base, second base, left field, right field, and also served as the DH. 

During the World Series this year, I showed off my signed Rangers card of Fernando, since the Rangers were playing in the Series. I wrote a little bit about him at that time, and will repeat that he is the only player to ever hit two Grand Slams in the same inning of a game which he accomplished against Chan Ho Park and the Dodgers. 

I recently added these Orioles signed 8x10 and card to my collection, so he is officially scratched off my list. This 2006 Upper Deck card is the only card that pictures him as an Oriole, so it took me quite a long time to track down a signed copy of it. It's interesting that the card and 8x10 certainly look as if both pictures are from the same at-bat, with the card photo being from an angle slightly closer to home plate and as the pitcher was throwing the ball. But you can see the same red fungo bat, folding chair(s) and trash can in the background, and it also looks as if Fernando is wearing the exact same uniform in both pictures. 

The autographed Rangers card of Fernando's is now available for trade, if anyone is interested.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Orioles Non-Tenders

Earlier this week, the Orioles did not offer contracts (non-tendered) to three of their arbitration eligible players; Luke Scott, Jo-Jo Reyes, and Willie Eyre. 

I hear that the O's would like to bring Luke back, but didn't want to have to pay whatever the amount (with a raise) would have been over the $6.4 million he made last season. I recently heard that up to ten teams are interested in him though, so I'm skeptical that he will be an Oriole in 2012. 

Reyes had a 6.16 ERA during his nine games late in the season, after the O's claimed him off of waivers from the Jays in early August, so I wasn't surprised to see him on this list.

However, Eyre's non-tendering confuses me. Just last week, the Orioles designated him for assignment when they acquired Dana Eveland from the Dodgers. I thought that when a player who didn't have any options was designated, he became a free agent. But I guess not? Can anyone explain this one to me?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Orioles Bobblehead of the Week- Brooks Robinson

Up this week is an awesome Brooks Robinson bobblehead that was given away in conjunction with a blood drive held by the Orioles back in 2006. The American Red Cross logo is present on all of these specialized blood drive bobbles the O's gave away.

Here's the back of #5

And a close-up of the face and cap with my favorite old school/current cartoon bird logo

 And a side view that partially shows this bobble's coolest feature

Brooks' glove is gold and has the number 16 on it to signify the number of Gold Glove awards he won

And here's the bottom if you are into that kind of thing

I don't remember how many of this bobblehead were given away but I'm thinking it was either 500 or 1000, so they are fairly rare. I'm very happy to have this in my collection.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Harvey Haddix

(Every Friday I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is a pennies short of a dollar, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible.")

This week's unpossible autograph is of Harvey Haddix, a man who many think threw the best game in Major League history. On May 26, 1959, while pitching for the Pirates, Harvey threw a perfect game for twelve innings, before he gave up a hit and a run in the thirteenth inning and lost the game 1-0. He retired a Major League record 36 consecutive Milwaukee Braves hitters, which was no small feat since the Braves were one of the best hitting teams of the era. His record has stood the test of time and is very unlikely ever to be surpassed since many of today's pitchers can't even last nine innings, let alone twelve. His Pirates teammates felt awful that they hadn't been able to score him a single run to put his perfect game in the record books.

Harvey pitched in the Majors from 1952-65 with the St. Louis Cardinals ('52-'56), Philadelphia Phillies ('56-'57), Cincinnati Redlegs ('58), Pittsburgh Pirates ('59-'63), and Baltimore Orioles ('64-'65). He likely would've began his big league career earlier but he spent 1951 in the military during the Korean War. Over his fourteen season career, Harvey was an All-Star for three consecutive seasons from 1953-'55, won a World Series with the Pirates in 1960, was the Rookie of the Year runner-up in 1953, and won three consecutive Gold Gloves from 1958-'60. He very likely could have won more Gold Gloves but the first year the award was handed out was 1957, almost halfway through his career.

Haddix was exclusively a reliever by the time he arrived in Baltimore in 1964 and pitched well for two seasons before retiring. After his playing days were over, he became a pitching coach for the Mets, Reds, Red Sox, Indians, and Pirates

Early in his career with the Cardinals, he earned the nickname "Kitten" because he looked so much like older teammate Harry "The Cat" Brecheen (who later became the Orioles first pitching coach in 1954 and still held the position when Harvey pitched for the O's in the mid-'60s).

Harvey developed emphysema and passed away in 1994 at the age of 68. Even if it doesn't count as an official perfect game, I would have a hard time arguing that your masterpiece on May 26, 1959 wasn't the greatest game ever thrown. RIP Harvey.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Orioles Minor Moves

So far this off-season, the Orioles have signed a handful of minor league free agents and had a few of their former minor leaguers sign with other teams. I use BaseballAmerica's amazing minor league free agent tracker to keep up on all the O's transactions. Here's a quick rundown of those moves so far. I'll start with the players that the O's have signed and/or re-signed.

They inked outfielder Scott Beerer to a deal on November 13. Scott has an interesting back story; he pitched in the Rockies farm system from 2000-06 before walking away from the game in 2007-08 and then returned to the Rox system as an outfielder in 2009. He split the 2011 season between AA and AAA and hit .372 over 41 games in the first AAA action of his career.

On November 22, they signed right-handed relief pitcher Miguel Socolovich, who has spent the past four seasons in the White Sox farm system and also split the 2011 season between AA and AAA.

That same day, the team also signed shortstop Steve Tolleson. He played in the Twins farm system from 2005-09 and has spent the past two seasons in the Padres and A's systems. He played 25 games for the A's in 2010 and hit .286 with 1 homer and 4 RBI over 49 at-bats.

The O's re-signed right-handed starter Brandon Erbe on December 5th. He is a local kid and was the team's third round draft pick in 2005. Prior to the 2010 season, the O's placed Erbe on the 40 man roster to protect him for the Rule 5 draft, but he proceeded to go 0-10 at AAA Norfolk in 2010 and has faced multiple injuries as well so his stock has majorly dropped. He was removed from the 40-man late in 2011 but I hope Brandon can get his career back on track in 2012.

Now for the subtractions from the team...

Jake Fox signed with the Pirates

 Chris Jakubauskas signed with the Diamondbacks (and I finally learned how to spell his name)

Felix Pie signed with the Indians

Steve Lerud signed with the Phillies

Chorye Spoone (another local guy) signed with the Red Sox

I'm not sure who all is interested in hearing about these updates but I will probably write another update or two about the O's minor league transactions throughout this off-season.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Orioles Sign Tsuyoshi Wada UPDATED

Many sites are reporting that the Orioles have signed Japanese free agent LHP starter Tsuyoshi Wada to a two year contract for somewhere around $8 million. Wada has pitched professionally in the Japanese Pacific League for the past eight seasons for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in 2003-04 and the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks from 2005-2011. He is a control pitcher best known for his amazing 3.2/1 K/BB ratio, but his fastball often tops out between 84-88 mph so I hope that his left-handed craftiness translates against MLB hitters. He earned the nickname "Dr. K" in Japan and it would be great if that remains applicable for his time in America as well.

Tsuyoshi was the Pacific League Rookie of the Year in 2003 and has made the All-Star team either two or three times (I found conflicting reports). Here is a You Tube video I found of Wada pitching. He seems to have a pretty smooth delivery and appears to somewhat hide the ball until late in his release. A few sites have compared him to Dallas Braden, and I'll be happy with that as long as the perfect game and hatred of the Yankees is included in the deal.

UPDATE- It sounds like Wada was actually an All-Star four times (in 2003, '04, '10, & '11), and was the MVP of the league in 2010. He also pitched in the Olympics in 2004 & '08 and helped Japan win the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.

$8 million is a huge amount of money to us every-men, but it's not a major financial risk in the world of professional baseball. I think this type of relatively low-risk signing is something that Orioles fans are used to by now. I just hope that Wada can hang as a viable pitcher in the A.L. East. It's always difficult to predict how a player will adjust to batters half a world away from who they are used to playing against. 

I've got my eye on some of Wada's cards, that hopefully I can get signed at some point down the road, but for now I don't own anything with his image on it. So I'm showing off my autographs from the Orioles previous Japanese signings. 

First up is the only Japanese player to play for the Orioles thus far in team history, Koji Uehara. He pitched for the O's from 2009 until a 2011 mid season trade sent him to the Rangers for Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis. When Koji was able to stay healthy, and once he became a full-time reliever, he was very successful for the O's. I've heard that he would like to return to Baltimore for the 2012 season, but I'm not sure if the Orioles will work out a deal to reacquire him. 

The only other Japanese pitcher to spend time in the Orioles organization is minor leaguer Ryohei Tanaka. He has pitched mostly with the AA Bowie Baysox over the past three seasons but spent a good chunk of 2011 with the hi-A Frederick Keys. He briefly pitched in the Japanese Pacific League back in 2003 but had been pitching in the Japanese minor leagues when the O's signed him prior to the 2009 season. At this point I think it's safe to say that Ryohei probably won't ever pitch in Baltimore, but he's been a good signer during his time in the farm system. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An Orange Kind of Day

As some of you may know, one of my mini collections is of autographed Orioles cards (as well as those of their affiliates) that picture the player wearing the O's distinctive orange uniform. It's a color that very few teams wear and I like its uniqueness. Most of the cards that depict the O's wearing orange uniforms are from shots taken during the team's exhibition games in Spring Training. But now that the Orioles have officially brought an orange uniform variation back into the regular rotation, I'm expecting to see more orange uniform cards in the coming years.

This collection is kind of a passive thing that I don't like to spend money on, but I will try to obtain signed orange uniform cards in person or via trade. At some point, I might get my "have list" uploaded but doubt I will ever put together a want list.

Here are some current and former Orioles rocking the orange.

Quite a few of Miggy's Orioles cards show him wearing orange

I believe that Kirk, who writes Eutaw Street Cardboard, sent me this Bergy autograph

Melmo is also shown wearing orange in the '05 Donruss set; nice work Donruss!

Unsuccessful Oriole, Bob McCrory, is shown wearing the Tides orange uniform variation

Monday, December 12, 2011

Vern Bickford Joins the Collection, Only Four To Go

Before last week, I needed five former Orioles' autographs to complete my collection. I had the luck to pick up this signed Vern Bickford image and since he wasn't pictured on any Orioles cards during his lifetime, he is now completely knocked off of my list.

Vern pitched seven seasons in the Major Leagues from 1948-54, mainly for the Boston/Milwaukee Braves. He threw his first big league pitch at the age of 27, and likely would've reached baseball's top level sooner if not for his three years of military service during World War 2. Vern's first four seasons in the Majors were very good but he broke a finger on his pitching hand during the '51 campaign and it never fully recovered. He pitched in a single game for the inaugural 1954 Orioles before a pinched nerve and the subsequent surgery effectively ended his career. 

His career highlights include throwing a no-hitter in 1950, making the 1949 National League All-Star team, and leading the N.L. in complete games, innings pitched, and batters faced, also in 1950. 

Vern sold cars, worked as a carpenter, and as a traveling salesman after his baseball career ended. He passed away in 1960 from stomach cancer at only 39 years old. He was the third earliest former Oriole to die, following only Howie Fox in 1955, and Tom Gastall in 1956. 

Vern was featured on a number of cards that were issued during his lifetime, but is pictured as a member of the Braves on all of them. The only card to show him as an Oriole was the O's Crown set that came out 31 years after his passing, so, obviously, no signed copies of that card exist. His autograph is hard to track down on anything , mainly since he's been dead for over fifty years, so I was very happy to add this signed photo to my collection. I am interested in finding out about what town this was taken in, or what those shops are in the background, but I guess it's pretty unlikely that I will ever figure that out. 

RIP Vern. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oriole # 803- Jamie Walker

Throughout the offseason, I'm going to continue to count down the Orioles players whose autographs I have yet to display here. Up today is Jamie Walker.

Jamie made his Orioles debut on April 3, 2007, the second game of the '07 season, and his time in Baltimore started off well. He appeared in 81 games during that season (leading the A.L. in appearances) and  finished the season with a 3-2 record, 3.23 ERA and seven saves. However, things quickly went downhill in the second two years of his three year contract.

He pitched in 59 games during the 2008 season, but had a 6.87 ERA and the results were consistently ugly for him throughout the season. As an Orioles fan, I didn't want to see Jamie come into a game that year. He improved slightly in 2009 and had a 5.11 ERA in 22 games before the Orioles released him on June 5th. Jamie hasn't pitched in the Majors since his last game with the O's on May 30, 2009. 

Jamie is one of the only players who I have ever seen sign a nickname, his is "Cat", in their autograph. Every autograph I have seen of his includes Cat, so I guess it's something he does all the time and it makes his signature pretty unique and different.

In 1994, he played as a replacement player in Spring Training during the strike, so he was excluded from being a member of the Players Association. That, combined with the fact that he was a middle reliever, means that he was only featured on two cards during his ten season career, both as a member of the Tigers in Topps Total sets, so I was pretty limited with what he could sign. Jamie signed the Heritage team card for me in person at an O's game in Washington during the '09 season, and I bought the signed team postcard online recently. Jim at GCRL made me a few custom Jamie Walker Orioles cards last year and Jamie is(or at least was) a good TTM signer, so I might send one of those out to him one day.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Orioles Bobblehead of the Week- Big Head Matt Wieters

OK, so I'm a huge Matt Wieters fan and a bobblehead collector to boot, but I'm not a big fan of these "big head" bobbles. They just don't look right to me. Not to mention that the designer somehow chose to use the "Jersey Shore" skin color option on Wieters' face. 

But it's still a Wieters bobble, and I'm happy to have it in my collection. It looks a little bit like Matt, but my favorite part is how his legs are in a realistic catching pose. 

One other negative for me is that Wieters is pictured wearing his #15 jersey, which was necessitated by Jamie Walker's 2009 usage of Matt's preferred # 32.

As far as I can remember, this was a Christmas gift to me last year by someone who must know me pretty well. Orioles? Check. Matt Wieters? Check. Bobblehead? Check. It's a triple-whammy present bonus. 

Overall, the details on the bobble are pretty good, but it's just hard for me to get past Matt's gigantic noggin and orange skin color. Still one of my top ten favorite bobbles, but those things keep it out of my top five.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Hank Majeski

Hank was a third baseman in the Major Leagues for 13 seasons from 1939-55: he missed out on three years of his career due to his service in the military during World War II. He spent most of his career with the Philadelphia Athletics and Cleveland Indians but also briefly played for the Boston Braves, Chicago White Sox,  New York Yankees, and Baltimore Orioles.

He was known mostly for his glove and was one of the premier fielding third baseman of his era. His .988 fielding percentage at the position in 1947 is still the Major League single season record. He also holds the record for most doubles in a doubleheader with the six he hit in a game in 1948.

After his playing career, he stayed involved with baseball as a minor league manager, college coach, and scout.

Hank's Orioles career lasted only 15 games after a mid-season trade from the Cleveland Indians at the tail-end of his career in 1955. The only card that shows Hank as an Oriole is his inclusion in the Orioles Crown set that was issued in four sets over the 1991 season, commemorating the last season of the O's playing at Memorial Stadium.

Hank passed away on August 9, 1991. Two days later, on August 11, the third Crown set was issued, which is the one that included Hank, so he obviously never signed a copy of this card.

Which means that my Indians signed card above is a permanent member of my collection. RIP Hank.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Orioles Winter Meeting Moves

The Orioles didn't make a big splash at the winter meetings; in fact they barely made a ripple, but I have to say that the few moves they made does make the team a little better off for the 2012 season.

The O's "big move" was acquiring LHP Dana Eveland from the Dodgers for minor leaguers Jarrett Martin and Tyler Henson.

Eveland has bounced around the Majors over the seven seasons he has spent in the big leagues. He made his MLB debut with the Brewers in 2005 and has since pitched for the Diamondbacks, A's, Blue Jays, Pirates, and Dodgers. At this point in his career, Dana is best known for the 2008-09 seasons he spent in Oakland and 42 of his 100 career appearances were with the A's. In limited September 2011 action with the Dodgers, he pitched well (3-2 record with a 3.03 ERA over five starts) so I hope that he can keep that positive momentum going into 2012.

Martin is a lefty pitcher who went 5-12 with the lo-A Delmarva Shorebirds in 2011 and was drafted by the O's in the 18th round of the 2009 draft. I don't believe I ever saw Martin pitch since he only spent two seasons in the Orioles organization and played for Bluefield and Delmarva, which are the two furthest affiliates from where I live. I don't have any autographs of his so you get a double dose of Henson.

Henson was a 5th round pick in the 2006 draft and spent the entire 2011 season with the AAA Norfolk Tides. He spent part of Spring Training in 2011 with the Orioles but finished the year with a relatively disappointing stat line in his first AAA action. Tyler has played at every level of the Orioles farm system over the past six seasons, and I enjoyed watching him play for the hi-A Frederick Keys and AA Bowie Baysox during the 2009-2010 seasons. He was one of Kalina's favorite minor leaguers, so she might need some time to recover from this trade.

If you are a twitterer, both Martin (@JarretMartin) and Henson (@hendog4) have accounts so you can follow them if you are into that kind of thing.

To clear room for Eveland on the 40 man roster, the O's designated reliever Willie Eyre for assignment. Eyre pitched well for the Birds in 2011, (2-2, 3.44 ERA in 19 games) and I thought he did well enough to be brought back for the 2012 season, but what do I know?

In other Orioles news, they announced that infielder Greg Miclat is the player to be named later in the Taylor Teagarden trade with the Rangers that was announced last week. Greg was the Orioles 5th round pick in the 2008 draft and had been steadily rising through the farm system. He spent the entire 2011 season with the Baysox and was probably the Orioles system's best base-stealer, as he swiped 50 bases in 53 attempts last year alone. Giving up Randy Henry and Miclat seems like a steep price for backup catcher, but again, I'm obviously not the one calling the shots and the team needed someone to fill-in for Wieters.

The Rule 5 draft wrapped up the 2011 Winter Meetings and the Orioles selected three players, one in each round of the draft. In the Major League phase, the team picked Ryan Flaherty from the Cubs, who had spent last year with the AAA Iowa Cubs and will compete for the 3B/utility infielder spot in spring training. In the AAA phase, the O's plucked LHP Andrew Loomis from the Phillies system, and in the AA phase they selected 3B Matt Sweeney from the Rays. Sweeney had been part of the Angels-Rays Scott Kazmir trade a few years back and is from Maryland. The O's were one of only two teams to make a selection in the AA phase and had none of their players selected in any phase of the draft, so take that for whatever it's worth.

I hope that some of you made it all the way down one of my longer posts in recent memory. Can you imagine how much I would have written if the team had signed Pujols?!?