O’s might be open to trading Chris Tillman this winter

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Chris Tillman was a second-round pick of the Mariners back in the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft. He posted intriguing strikeout numbers at a few different levels of Single-A between 2006-2007 before being dealt in an offseason trade to the Orioles in 2008.

That’s when his profile really began rising.

Tillman registered a 3.18 ERA and 154/65 K/BB ratio across 135 2/3 innings for the O’s Triple-A affiliate in 2008, and was rated 22nd on Baseball America‘s Top 100 prospect rankings heading into the 2009 season. In July of 2009, he made his major league debut against the Royals to a good degree of hype.

But it’s been mostly downhill since then for Tillman, and now Roch Kubatko of MASN is hearing that Baltimore “would be willing to” trade the young righty this offseason if they’re able to find interest.

The 6-foot-5 Tillman posted a 5.52 ERA and 46/25 K/BB ratio in 62 innings this year in the majors and a 5.87 ERA over 53 2/3 innings in 2010. Even on an O’s roster that is short on reliable starting arms, he’s a longshot to land a spot in the 2012 Opening Day rotation. So rather than asking the 23-year-old to transition into a reliever, thus stunting his long-term potential, the O’s might go ahead and try to find him a new team.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉