O’s looking to acquire Duchscherer, might have made offer

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There are only a couple of free agents remaining on the open market who could have real value in 2011.  Justin Duchscherer is one of them.

The 33-year-old right-hander boasts an excellent 3.13 career ERA and 1.14 career WHIP across eight major league seasons.  He has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, but his numbers have remained strong during the times that he has not on the disabled list and he told Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com last week that he is “pretty much 100 percent” heading into spring training this season.

The Nationals are hoping to land him, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.  The Mariners want him too, a source told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.  The Orioles are also in the running, and they might have the best shot right now.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Baltimore is “in the lead” for Duchscherer and may have already given him a one-year major league contract offer.

The right-hander would probably get a chance to land one of the final spots in the O’s staring rotation this spring.  Brian Matusz is a lock, Jeremy Guthrie is too.  But Duchscherer could probably beat out some of the other young pitchers in Orioles camp if he simply shows that his hip is intact.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.