I’m hearing the Orioles could be on the verge of making their first move of the off-season tonight in Nashville, TN at the annual winter meetings.
The Chicago Cubs would send two left-handed pitchers to Baltimore – Rich Hill and Sean Marshall – and the O’s would ship 2nd baseman Brian Roberts to the Windy City.
Hill, a 4th round draft pick in 2002, started a career high 32 games in 2007, going 11-8 with a 3.92 e.r.a. He fanned 183 hitters in 195 innings but those decent strikeout figures were offset by the fact that he allowed 27 home runs last season. Still, he’s thrown over 300 innings in his major league career and his earned run average is below the league average during that time span.
Marshall, a 6th round draft selection in 2003, made 19 starts for the Cubs in ’07 and went 7-8 and, like Hill, posted a 3.92 e.r.a.
I talked to a writer from Chicago tonight who said Rich Hill is "either really good or really bad" and the Cubs have started to run out of patience with him. Marshall, on the other hand, is a guy they’ve liked for a couple of years, but they’ve spent a lot of time working on mechanics with him because of his size (6’7").
Both Hill and Marshall are left-handed throwers, which would lead one to believe that Erik Bedard is on his way out in Baltimore. That is, unless you buy into the fact that the O’s would start the year with 4 southpaws in their starting rotation (Bedard, Loewen, Hill, Marshall).
As for Roberts, it would mark the end of a fine – if otherwise unrewarding – career in Baltimore. A fan favorite and a great contributor to the community, a trade to a competitor would be justified for "BRob", who deserves to play for a team that has a chance to win in 2008.
DF UPDATE AT 10:00 PM — I just spoke with another another national baseball writer (very familiar with the Cubs and National League) who said he thinks there’s a "pretty fair" chance this deal gets done by Thursday. The Cubs were evidently hoping to land Kaz Matsui and not have to part with Hill, in particular, but with Matsui no longer available, the Cubs are now facing the reality that they’ll have to give up some value to get a quality second baseman and a left-handed bat, which they desperately need. The writer said, "Hill’s not an Erik Bedard clone, but take a look at his 10 best starts from ’07 and they’re somewhat comparable to Bedard’s numbers except Erik strikes out a few more batters." As for Marshall, the writer said, "big time live arm, needs to learn how to pitch now".
Personally, I’m betting the deal DOESN’T happen. I think the O’s would have to have a "deal they can’t refuse" to trade Roberts. I do believe Rich Hill could be a solid starter for the O’s and, with Marshall, perhaps the trade would be a true win-win for both parties, but I just don’t think they’re going to trade Roberts.
So, while I’m hearing from people close to the situation that the deal might, in fact, happen, I’m thinking just the opposite. If it were anyone else but Roberts, I might buy it. But I think Roberts is their pride-and-joy.