Friday, February 6, 2009

Orioles add Hill, Wigginton

The Baltimore Orioles have managed to add Former Cubs' left-hander Rich Hill to their starting rotation mix, for a player to be named. Hill is an extremely talented youngster who struggled with his control in the majors, minors and winter ball recently after going 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 2007. This is the second time in recent weeks that Baltimore has benefitted from the Cubs being overstocked following the trade for Felix Pie.

Hill is being reunited with his AA and AAA coaches Alan Dunn and Rick Kranitz, who worked him through similar problems during his time there. It probably won't hurt to have them, but Camden Yards strikes me as a place where a guy can become scared to throw strikes because, as the French say, it is le launching pad. He is already used to that, however, because he pitched well in Wrigley Field.

Nonetheless, Hill is a guy who could benefit from a regular spot in a starting rotation. The Orioles seem intent on giving him every opportunity to do that.  He is also 29 years old, so his best seasons should theoretically be hitting right now. The O's frankly need more upside in their rotation, and Hill could provide that if he can find the strike zone. They had to wave goodbye to Brandon Burres to make room for Hill on the roster, but that probably wasn't too painful.

Baltimore also signed Ty Wigginton to a two year contract, adding some versatile pop to back up Aubrey Huff, Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora in the infield. It appears that Kevin Millar is done with the team in the wake of this signing.

Wigginton is an upgrade, and he hit 23 home runs in 386 at-bats last season. The Orioles have a nice enough hitting team, but their pitching is still a serious question mark. Now would be the time to check in with the White Sox and see if the rumored Roberts for Gavin Floyd is still of interest. Wigginton could step in capably, albeit worse than Roberts, at second base. A front three of Jeremy Guthrie, Floyd and Hill could make them a serious club. But that is extraordinarily unlikely.

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