The week between Christmas and New Year's tends to be fairly uneventful in baseball. I'd often volunteer to be on call during that stretch so the other Orioles beat writer at The Sun could relax and celebrate the holiday with his family. It was a nice gesture on the surface, but I also knew that I wouldn't be busy. I'd have some time off without using up any vacation or comp days.
I checked with executive vice president Dan Duquette yesterday to gauge whether I'd need to stay close to my laptop next week.
"I don't know that there's a quiet time in baseball these days," he replied. "There are still a lot of players on the market, and there are still a few things we'd like to do to build this team."
So much for shutting down.
"We'd like to build up the pitching staff," he said. "We continue to work on that."
When I asked whether the Orioles are looking for a second baseman, Duquette replied, "I think we've added to that in a couple different ways."
"Matt Antonelli is one of them," Duquette said. "We picked up Ryan Flaherty, so that's another one. We signed (Steve) Tolleson as an extra infielder so that (Robert) Andino could be a candidate. We have addressed that, Some of these guys can play second base."
I mentioned that Baseball America projected Flaherty to be the club's designated hitter in 2015.
"Flaherty's a pretty good player," Duquette said. "He had 20 homers and 30 doubles last season (between Double-A and Triple-A), which speaks to the quality of his bat. That's a lot of extra-base knocks. I kept hearing that we got a good bat, and that came from some other clubs. And I like that he's from Maine. Those guys are really dedicated to the game."
I couldn't let Duquette off the phone without bring up Prince Fielder's name again. Heck, everyone else is doing it.
"We're monitoring the market," Duquette said. "That's a good way to put it."
So to review: The Orioles retain interest in Fielder, but not at his current price. It will have to change dramatically.
They're not "out," so they must be "in." But they shouldn't be classified as a favorite to sign him at this point.