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Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette wanted a left-handed hitting outfielder who could back up Adam Jones in center field and at least share left field with Nolan Reimold. He found one yesterday when Endy Chavez agreed to terms on a one-year deal, which will become official after the veteran takes his physical.
Every team has a fourth outfielder and a backup catcher and at least one utility infielder. Every executive signs a batch of six-year minor league free agents. They're not exciting additions. They don't cause a big increase in ticket and merchandise sales. But they're necessities in any organization.
Nobody is claiming that Chavez is going to end the streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons. Nobody is making plans for Endy Chavez T-Shirt Tuesday. It's not the Endy of the world as we know it. He's a spare part and a defensive upgrade over anyone who played left field in 2011.
Fans here would be more receptive to this type of signing if Duquette already had found a frontline starting pitcher and a big bat for the middle of the lineup. The lesser deals are the easiest to complete.
I wouldn't assume that Chavez's signing eliminates any chance that the Orioles re-sign Luke Scott. It's not like Scott was viewed as a backup center fielder. And the Orioles still need a designated hitter.
HIs full name is Endy de Jesus Chavez. He's a native of Venezuela who turns 34 in February. He had 502 at-bats with the Expos in 2004, when he hit .277/.318/.371 with 20 doubles, six triples, five home runs, 34 RBIs and 32 stolen bases. He hasn't accumulated more than 353 at-bats since that year, and he's never hit more than five homers in a single season.
Power's not his thing.
Chavez has been to the playoffs with the Mets in 2006 and the Rangers in 2011. He'll always be remembered for his leaping catch at the left field fence to rob the Cardinals' Scott Rolen of a home run, and the throw that doubled off Jim Edmonds at first base, in Game 7 of the '06 National League Championship Series. It's one of the most remarkable plays in postseason history.
If you're still not excited about Chavez, maybe this video will help. I bet you'll be humming this tune for the rest of the day.