Koji Back With O’s For 2011, Hardy On The Way?

December 09, 2010 |

Would your boss be satisfied if you called out 50% of the time?

Apparently, the O’s were happy to bring back Koji Uehara, 35, for a 3rd season despite the Japanese former All Star’s penchant for fatigue-related sick days.

To be fair, Uehara’s first two seasons in MLB varied widely. Signed to much fanfare before the 2009 season, Uehara came to Baltimore to start games. Beset by injury, Uehara and the club quickly realized that his days of starting were behind him. Also, humidity is really not his thing.

In 2010, Uehara was an effective reliever, saving 13 games and finishing the year with a 2.86 ERA.  He can be an important piece to the back end of the bullpen if he can manage to stay upright.

The club was uncharacteristically quick in re-signing Uehara, perhaps because they are dealing so much relief pitching this offseason. They shipped David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio to Arizona for Mark Reynolds earlier in the week and appear poised to deal more pitching to improve their infield.

Speaking of…

According to CBS Sports, the O’s are set to announce a trade of minor leading pitchers James Hoey and Brett Jacobsen to Minnesota in exchange for infielders J.J. Hardy and Brenddan Harris.

O’s GM Andy MacPhail seems to have finalized this deal late last night, well after the sweater vest crowd usually nods off for the evening. Look for an announcement after the Rule V draft today, unless Peter Angelos decides to nix it on a whimsy.

Hardy, 27, is the centerpiece of the trade. His OPS is 100 points better than light-batted Cesar Izturis. Hardy has two more years of arbitration eligibility before becoming a free agent.

Harris, 29, struggled in limited appearances last season, but he’s a career .260 hitter with a .318 OBP. Harris has played every position around the diamond, including 218 games at shortstop.

It looks like Robert Andino will have to find another club for which he can ride the express to and from AAA to the bigs.

An infield of Reynolds, Hardy, Roberts, and Anyone But Atkins won’t win the AL East, but it represents a steady improvement from last season.

My vote would be for the O’s to bring in Paul Bunyan-esque Jim Thome to DH. Thome was good for 25 dingers in only 276 at bats last year. Let’s see what he has left at age 39 and give guys like Markakis and Reynolds some real lineup protection. My two cents.

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