This, that and the other

I don't like the Ravens on the road in a short week.

I'm just saying...

The Mets reportedly are hoping to name a new manager by the winter meetings.

The winter meetings? Other teams are making their hires and moving forward, and the Mets keep dragging their feet. Such an embarrassment. Why can't they be like other organizations. This is Metland!

Derek-Lee_Braves-Tall.gif

OK, sorry.

Actually, frustrated fans probably refer to it as Metlife, which works for me.

I've seen a report stating that free-agent first baseman Derrek Lee is looking to sign with a team that can make the playoffs next season.

That makes a harder sell for the Orioles, and I bet that's just fine with many of you who figure there are better first base options out there. Go get one.

I still remember the day that Lee and his agent created a major buzz after being spotted in the warehouse. The Orioles looked like they had become the frontrunners to acquire him, but it didn't happen. Talks broke down and it was over in a flash. Such a buzz-kill.

His agent vented to me over the phone in one of those rare instances when my call didn't go unreturned.

Lee is on the market at age 35 and coming off surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. I'd take him - he most certainly qualifies as an upgrade and shouldn't be confused with Garrett Atkins - but he's about four notches down on my list.

If the Orioles don't sign Adrian Beltre this winter, who the heck is going to play third base?

Please, no more Joe Crede talk like the kind we experienced last winter. Did he even pick up a bat in 2009? And I will keep saying it until it comes true: The Miguel Tejada ship has sailed.

Could you live with Ty Wigginton at third if the Orioles sign or trade for a big bat at first?

The door hasn't closed on Wigginton, though the Mariners reportedly are interested in him as a third baseman.

MLBtraderumors has speculated that Jim Johnson and Matt Albers could be non-tender candidates. Johnson would be a shocker to me because he still projects as the right-handed eighth-inning set-up man, unless the Orioles plan on using David Hernandez in that role.

Johnson has achieved Super Two status, which gives him an extra year in arbitration.

Speaking of relievers, you probably noticed Dennis Sarfate's name among the minor league free agents that I posted yesterday. Don't count on him re-signing with the Orioles, who retain interest in him. He never got called up last year despite registering a 2.73 ERA, saving 20 games and striking out 72 batters in 56 innings at Triple-A Norfolk, and he figures to find a better opportunity on the market.

A report out of Japan states that we won't find out whether shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka is being posted until Saturday. The Orioles like him, but as I wrote earlier this week, I wouldn't count on them being serious players for him.

My prediction hasn't changed: The Orioles re-sign Cesar Izturis.

I also still believe they need someone who can play second base for an extended period - and I mean, play it well - in case Brian Roberts breaks down. No more scrambling late in spring training to find a backup. No more botched double plays.

The Nationals are one of the teams supposedly interested in Brandon Webb, who hasn't started since Opening Day 2009. His fastball was topping out in the low 80s in the fall instructional league. You don't pencil that guy into your rotation.

Erik Bedard also missed the entire 2010 season after repeated setbacks with his left shoulder. We burned a lot of energy last winter debating whether the Orioles should sign him and when he'd be ready to jump into the rotation.

Chien-Ming Wang was another name that intrigued some fans here. He signed with the Nationals and still hasn't thrown a pitch for them.

The Athletics gave Ben Sheets $10 million last winter, and he won four games before suffering a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. We debated the wisdom of signing him, too.

Today's question (besides the one about Wigginton at third base): Should the Orioles make a run at a low-risk, high-reward type such as Webb, which they seemed willing to do last winter with Bedard if his shoulder had held up? (They weren't interested in Wang or Sheets.)

I'd take Webb on the dirt cheap, but he'll find someone who's willing to make a bigger investment. President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail would like to find another innings-eater, the same mission that led to the Kevin Millwood trade last winter. Webb hardly qualifies, given the current state of his health and his fastball.

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