Will the Orioles be 'buyers' this offseason?

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According to Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles are poised to be “buyers” this offseason, as they are in a better financial position than they have been in more than a decade.
“It’s the fun part of the job. This is the time for us to go up and hit,” Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. “Last year, we made a couple of trades, we signed five free agents. We were pretty active. Numerically, I think we’ll be more active dollar-wise than we were last year. We’re organized, we have our targets that we’re going to go after, and we’ll see how it goes and how the market unfolds.”
The team’s most pressing needs are to find a veteran starting pitcher and a middle-of-the-order bat to play first or third base. While they would likely have to overpay to sign any marquee free agents, they have expressed interest in John Lackey and Chone Figgins.
More realistic options are corner bats like Pedro Feliz, Adrian Beltre, Nick Johnson, Carlos Delgado, Troy Glaus or Hank Blalock. Whoever they sign, they will likely be a short-term stopgap until Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder are ready for the majors. As for a starting pitcher, expect the Orioles to be in the mix for Braden Looper, Randy Wolf or Jon Garland. MacPhail also hasn’t dismissed the possibility of signing a pitcher coming off injury like former ace Erik Bedard.
Zrebiec and Connolly point out that the Orioles have just three players (Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts and Brian Matusz) under contract beyond next season, so while it would be nice to see Peter Angelos finally open his wallet, now simply isn’t the time to spend just for spending’s sake. The Orioles aren’t a few pieces away from threatening the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. Let’s hope McPhail keeps making sound baseball decisions while the talent of Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Chris Tillman and Matusz incubates.

Carlos Ruiz leaves a goodbye note for the Phillies

CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Carlos Ruiz #51 of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a portrait on February 26, 2016 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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And then there was one. One player from the 2008 World Series champs, that is. Ryan Howard likely isn’t going anywhere so he’ll be the last one to turn the lights off, but today Carlo Ruiz bid adieu to the Phillies following his trade to Los Angeles.

Lost in all of the emotions the Dodgers are reported to be feeling about A.J. Ellis leaving is the fact that Ruiz was one of the most beloved Phillies players ever, by both his teammates and their fans. Yesterday Roy Halladay penned a heartfelt goodbye to Ruiz, suggesting that he was every bit as essential to his and the Phillies’ success as Ellis has been to Clayton Kershaw (and in pure baseball production, obviously, quite more).

Today Chooch left a message for his now former teammates:

A far-fetched sounding drug test scam

NES TSIONA, ISRAEL - JANUARY 22:  A laboratory technician checks human blood samples before placing the glass tubes on an automated testing line at the Maccabi Health Services HMO central laboratory January 22, 2006 in Nes Tsiona which is located in central Israel. The laboratory, which operates a fully automated system complete with advanced robotics, can test more than 50,000 blood samples a day. The lab is considered one of the most modern of its kind in the western world.  (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
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Kevin Draper at Deadspin is passing along a story — and that’s not me editorializing; he’s admitting that it’s unconfirmed gossip at the moment — about a major league player paying a teammate $2.5 million to take the fall for him on a drug test. The story came via a tip from someone who, apparently, had a conversation about the drug test scam with a college baseball player who knew the players allegedly involved in the scam.

Here is how the conversation was recounted:

College Baseball Player: [MLB player’s star teammate] paid him to take his blood test. $2.5 million dollars.

Bar Patron: How does that even work?

College Baseball Player: [MLB player] and [MLB player’s star teammate] were getting tested the same day. They traded samples.

Deadspin says that the story is “probably bulls**t” but that some preliminary investigating they’ve done doesn’t disprove it and, to some extent corroborates it. How it’s been supported or not is left unclear and Deadspin couches all of this in a request for more information if anyone has any. Which, OK, fine.

I’ll offer that, on the surface, this seems like a bit more than mere “bulls**t.” It sounds structurally impossible. If it’s a blood test for HGH as the excerpt suggests, the samples are tested back in the lab to make sure they match up with previous samples. Meaning: the lab processing the sample knows if it’s your blood or not. If it’s a urine test, as Deadspin thinks it may have been, I’m not sure how samples could be switched given that urine tests are directly observed by testing officials. Yes, they watch you pee. They’d likely prevent you from peeing right next to your bro teammate, but even if you did, they’d see you exchange little plastic containers of urine with him.

I’m not going to say that this is 100% bull because we can’t really know for sure, but the scenario as described sounds highly unlikely, approaching the impossible. If someone had a story about bribing a sample taker with $2.5 million well, hey, maybe we’re getting somewhere, because that would get you over some procedural hurdles. For now, though, this all sounds like someone passing along a tall tale.

If it is true? Hoo boy, that’d be fun. At least for people like me who write about this stuff.