Mailbag: Make room by moving two?
Beat reporter Spencer Fordin answers fans' questions
When can the Orioles place injured relievers Chris Ray and Danys Baez on the 60-day disabled list in order to open up two spots on the 40-man roster?
-- Ryan H., Havre de Grace, Md.
Now that the Grapefruit League has started, the Orioles aren't obligated to keep their injured arms on the 40-man roster. They can place either Ray or Baez on the 60-day DL whenever they feel the need, and they may do so whenever they see somebody they'd like to claim off waivers. Baltimore, at the moment, has 40 players on the 40-man roster.
Since both Baez and Ray are out for most or all of the season, it's all but inevitable that the Orioles will place them on the 60-man disabled list. That would require that they wait 60 days before they can be activated, but Ray is two months away from even being able to throw off the mound. Even in the best-case scenario, he won't be back until August.
Baez is at least a few weeks behind Ray and is unlikely to pitch in the Majors at all this season. One other roster wrinkle for the Orioles is the Jay Gibbons situation. Gibbons, who will serve a 15-game suspension once the season begins, will be placed on the restricted list at some point and won't count against either the 25-man or 40-man roster.
The waiver wire will likely heat up as Spring Training draws to a close, which explains why the Orioles aren't in a rush to place either Ray or Baez on the disabled list immediately. It wouldn't hurt them at all to do so, but it won't help until Baltimore needs the roster spot to acquire someone from another organization.
What happened to Corey Patterson? He seemed to be a big contributor for the Orioles the last few seasons, but isn't even on a roster right now.
-- Ray R., Farmington Hills, Mich.
Patterson had the bad luck to become a free agent in a really deep class for center fielders, and he's been somewhat of a forgotten man as a result. The veteran also has super-agent Scott Boras representing him, which may explain why he's somewhat reticent to sign a bargain-basement deal to go in and compete for a job without security.
The Orioles don't really have a need for him after trading for Adam Jones, but Baltimore is reportedly interested in bringing back Patterson if he continues to remain unemployed. At the very least, he'd provide a defensively sound reserve with the ability to pinch-run. In turn, that would mean competition for Tike Redman and Chris Roberson.
Patterson has a longer track record than either Redman or Roberson, but he's also been a very inconsistent player. Take last year, for instance: Patterson hit .235 in 83 games before the All-Star break and .313 in 49 games after it. He also hit .310 against left-handers last year but has a career .242 average with a .275 on-base mark against southpaws.
Patterson, the third overall pick in the 1998 First-Year Player Draft, has been viewed as a disappointment in some circles for not living up to his massive potential. He has settled into a solid big league ballplayer, though, and could help a team in the right circumstances. Still, he may not make sense in Baltimore unless he comes with a small price tag.
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Is backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz good enough to have a roster spot? If he isn't, who would make a good alternate option?
-- Chris M., Carlisle, Pa.
Quiroz, a former bonus baby out of Venezuela, has been waiting years for his first guaranteed big league job. The backstop signed at 16 years old and was thought of as a future star with his first organization -- the Blue Jays -- but has endured a longer development curve than expected. Now, at 26, he appears to finally have a shot at a backup gig.
Ramon Hernandez is expected to take the lion's share of playing time behind the plate, but the Orioles will weigh the potential of keeping Quiroz versus the security of a big league veteran like Ben Davis. Davis, a busted prospect in his own right, was the second overall pick in 1995 and has hit just .237 in his seven-year Major League career.
Davis hasn't played in the bigs since 2004, and Quiroz has played in just 39 games at the sport's highest level. He still has a broad palate of skills but hasn't put everything together since a star turn for Double-A New Haven in 2003. Quiroz had injury problems in both '04 and '05, and the Blue Jays couldn't protect him once he ran out of options.
The Mariners claimed him off waivers in 2006, and he spent the season bouncing between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tacoma. Texas signed him before the '07 season, and he batted .266 for Triple-A Oklahoma City before a brief September callup. Now, it's Baltimore's turn to test him out and see if he can regain his prospect sheen.
Are there timetables for new arms Kam Mickolio and Chris Tillman to contribute to the big club?
-- Bill C., Helena, Mont.
Sure there are -- but they're different for both players. Mickolio will likely make his big league debut at some point this season, but Tillman will need some more time to develop. Mickolio is regarded as a potential bullpen piece, but Tillman has top of the rotation type talent and won't turn 20 years old until the second week of the upcoming season.
Tillman, a second-round pick in 2006, was pushed aggressively by the Mariners before arriving in Baltimore as a piece in the Erik Bedard trade. The right-hander made 20 starts in the offense-friendly Class A California League last season and held his own, and while his starting point is undetermined, he'll likely finish the season pitching for Double-A Bowie.
Mickolio, meanwhile, is four years older and spent two years playing junior college baseball. He rose through two levels of Seattle's organization effortlessly last season, posting a 1.82 ERA for Double-A West Tennessee and a 3.75 ERA for Triple-A Tacoma. He may start out this season with Triple-A Norfolk, but he won't be too far down the depth chart.
The Orioles are thrilled with the haul they received for Bedard, which also included Jones, reliever George Sherrill and young southpaw Tony Butler. Tillman may wind up being the key, but Baltimore held out to get Mickolio and Butler. Mickolio, who didn't even play high school baseball, is a sleeper who could either surprise or drop totally off the radar.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.